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"All Quiet on the Western Front" versus propaganda- a short paper on World War I


Rod_Farva 5 / 18  
Apr 20, 2010   #1
Here is the prompt:
Compare the portrayal of Germans in American propaganda posters with the narrator and his companions in the excerpt from "All Quiet on the Western Front." Germans were also not exempt from propaganda; what cultural and ethnic stereotypes do German posters reveal? Using Remarque's work and the posters, explain why it is often essential to dehumanize the enemy in wartime.

1. Paper must be between 500 and 750 words
2. No slang, curse words, contractions, or colloquialisms allowed
3. The paper must be exclusively active voice
4. No hanging quotations or incorrect apostrophe usage


I want to make sure that this paper is as well formed as possible, since I need the extra points to take some pressure off of a final. Any help with grammar or fluidity/word choice would be appreciated. Thank you so much in advance!

Schisms of incomprehensible magnitude between the nations of Europe characterize the dawn of the 20th century. Despite the noble intentions of late 19th century nationalists, pride soon begat vicious state rivalries and separated European citizens between various flags and ideologies, creating national identities that fostered hate between opposing factions. By 1914, these rivalries manifested through the Great War, a conflict that destroyed millions of young men over the next four years. "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque follows a group of young German soldiers, displaying their human frailties and dramatic disillusionment in the face of such brutal conflict. This depiction of humanity sharply contrasts with propaganda posters from the Great War that depict opposing groups as either "mad brutes" or weak and worthless individuals, devoid of human sentiments and unworthy of empathy (p. 364-365). Comparison of Remarque's work and Great War propaganda from both sides suggests a sometimes unseen casualty of war, namely empathy and human perspective. Unfortunately for mankind, effective warfare cannot be waged with empathy for an enemy in tow.

Remarque depicts the German soldiers as young men, fresh from school and ready to die for their country. War quickly robs them of their youth and innocence. Faced with the imminent death of their friend in a field hospital, the young boys must make peace with the loss and avoid agitating the dying friend in his last moments. Kropp, one of the young German soldiers, expresses this stress by unleashing a frantic and vicious string of profanity outside of the tent (p. 360). Kropp personifies the frailty of the human psyche in the face of war. Ironically, Kropp then reveals that the schoolmaster of the young boys writes to him, referring to the young soldiers as "the Iron Youth." According to the narrator, "We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk" (p. 360). Remarque portrays the German soldier as a human being, complete with a conscious that bears the scars of war. Unfortunately, the enemy overlooks these characteristics when developing war propaganda.

Popular anti-German propaganda of the time completely ignores any humane sentiments within the German military. One United States propaganda poster portrays the German military as a massive gorilla with Lady Liberty in his clutches. The caption reads, "Destroy this mad brute!" (p. 364). Posters such as this incite much anti-German fervor within the American populace, successfully associating the image of evil and savagery with a group of people no less human than the Americans themselves. The German propaganda machine of World War I is also efficient at dehumanizing the enemy. One German propaganda piece depicts racist stereotypes of each enemy nation, claiming that "[y]ou six aren't worth the waste of shot and powder" (p. 361, 365). Each stereotype of opposing forces displays not only the effect of war upon a societal view of others, but also of the over-zealous nationalist competition of the early 20th century that precipitated such a violent conflict in the first place. Once war ensues in 1914, this mutual hatred between nationalities becomes necessary for success as new recruits march to the front lines of a never-ending war of attrition. Without such a fervent hatred for the other side, little cause for such violence exists.

The Great War of 1914-1918 traumatized both the nations of Europe and the people involved. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque portrays the soldiers of the Great War as innocent young boys trusting in an institution that sends them to die for vague ideals such as glory and patriotism. At the same time, their side and opposing factions pump out propaganda to suggest that these young soldiers are not human in any right, but instead savage beasts to be destroyed for the good of the world. This propaganda displays not only the detriments of nationalistic competition, but also perpetuates the war by inciting hatred that does not naturally exist between the groups of people. Unfortunately, the resulting animosity between the combatants in World War I exists to this day.
Notoman 20 / 419  
Apr 20, 2010   #2
This is well written! You have a nice grasp of vocabulary and descriptive language. I am going to make a few little suggestions that I feel will strengthen your paper even more ...

Clarify in your introduction that you are contrasting the American depiction of Germans in their propaganda posters because both sides had posters.

a young group of German soldiers

Minor thing here ... I would put "young" in front of "German" instead. They are a young group, but you want to emphasize the youth of the soldiers.

The soldiers depicted in Remarque's novel are young men

The instructions say that the paper should be exclusively in active voice. Man, that is tough and it doesn't always produce smooth sentences! You could change this to the active voice by saying: Remarque depicts the soldiers ...

Despite their lack of age, however, war has quickly robbed them of their mental youth and innocence.

This sentence is a little awkward. Age isn't something I think of people as lacking. They may lack maturity. They may be young. But they don't really lack age. You are also skipping around a bit on your tenses. Try to keep everything in "literary present." You fall into the passive voice here with "war has." I am thinking that the first part of the sentence isn't meshing with the second. I'd probably drop it altogether and say something like this instead: War quickly robs the young soldiers of their youthful thoughts and innocence.

The German propaganda machine also spared no effort in dehumanizing the enemy.

"Spared" isn't working here. Sparing effort is like avoiding effort. You might spare a friend embarrassment by covering up a small fault for him. You could also spare a friend the effort of going to school to pick up missing assignments by bringing the assignments to him. You could change it to something like: The German propaganda machine effectively sought to dehumanize the enemy.

Ironically, the schoolmaster of the young boys writes to them, referring to the boys as "the Iron Youth." According to the narrator, "We are none of us more than twenty years old.

You might want to explain the irony a bit here. I am not sure how to include it, but I feel like there needs to be a more explicit contrast drawn between the then and now and how the boys no longer see themselves as youth. Maybe: The soldiers find it ironic when their schoolmaster extols them as "the Iron Youth" in a letter; war matures the boys. Even though none of the boys is older than twenty, they question their youth: "But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk" (p. 360). Okay, I am not crazy about that construction either, but I trust your ability to rework it just a tad.

Once war ensued in 1914, this formerly benign distaste for foreign opposition became overt and necessary for success as new recruits were needed at the front lines of a never-ending war of attrition.

Awesome sentence. "Were needed" slips into the passive voice. New recruits replaced dead soldiers? New recruits marched to the front lines?

Without such a fervent hatred for the other side, little cause for such violence would exist.

Again, great sentence. Take out "would" and just use "exists."

The Great War of 1914-1918 was traumatic for both the nations of Europe and the people who were involved within it.

That passive voice is so tricky! Instead of "was traumatic," you could write "traumatized." "Who were involved within it" gets wordy and relies on the passive voice. Just say "the people involved."

According to Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front," the soldiers of the Great War were young boys whose only crime was to trust an institution that would send them to die for vague ideals such as glory and patriotism.

Again, the passive voice sneaks in. Try something like: In All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque writes of the soldiers of the Great War as innocent young boys trusting in an institution that sends them to die for vague ideals such as glory and patriotism. That brings up another point ... italicize the title of the book instead of putting it in quotes for your final paper.

At the same time, their side and opposing factions pumped out propaganda to suggest that these young soldiers were not human in any right, but instead savage beasts to be destroyed for the good of the world.

Because it is a literary paper, I think it best to stick to the literary present even here. Try to omit "were" and "to be." Hmmmmm ... Opposing sides pump out propaganda suggesting the inhumanity of the enemy and portraying the opposition as savage beasts in need of destruction for the good of the world.

This propaganda displayed not only the detriments of nationalistic competition, but also served to perpetuate the war by inciting hatred between groups of people that did not naturally exist.

Tense and voice. This propaganda displays not only the detriments of nationalistic competition, but also serves to perpetuate the war by inciting hatred not naturally existing between groups of people . I switched around the last part of the sentence because it is the hate that doesn't exist naturally not the groups of people that don't exist naturally (that would be Brave New World).

The effect was a bitter and prolonged conflict that incited deep mutual hatreds between nations of the world that exist to this day.

Tense and voice. The propaganda effected a bitter and prolonged conflict inciting deep mutual hatred between nations of the world existing to this day.

I just reread what I wrote and realized that a lot of the corrections are still falling into past tense. Check your tenses when you rewrite to ensure things make sense and flow. Best of luck!
OP Rod_Farva 5 / 18  
Apr 22, 2010   #3
I tried to make the tense match up better and add in active voice, she really does count off for that quite a bit so I appreciate the help! Any further input would be appreciated!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Apr 22, 2010   #4
You betweened twice in a row:
and separated European citizens between according to various flags and ideologies, creating national identities that fostered hatred among between opposing factions.

This sentence has rhythm like two quick jabs and a big uppercut:
Remarque depicts the German soldiers as young men, fresh from school and ready to die for their country.---i like it

At the same time, their side and opposing factions pump out propaganda to suggest that these young soldiers are not human in any right, but instead savage beasts to be destroyed for the good of the world. --- awesome point. I just scratched out some words that are not worth their weight.


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