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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque-Barron's Booknotes
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• The Road Back, 1931 (Der Weg zuruck, 1931).

It is a time of shortages, profiteering, riots, and extremist politics. Men returning from the front no longer fit-with family, at a teacher's college, in jobs, even in bars or dance- halls. They feel betrayed by their Fatherland.

• The Black Obelisk, 1957 (Der schwarze Obelisk, 1956).

Political unrest, unemployment, and galloping inflation are facts of life in Germany in 1923. Ludwig Bodmer, a 25-year- old World War I veteran, works for a tombstone firm, tutors, and plays organ on Sundays at an insane asylum. He wanders between the Poets' Club and a local brothel and between a circus girl and a beautiful asylum inmate, finally leaving for a newspaper job in Berlin and hoping to find a purpose in life.

• Three Comrades, 1937 (Drei Kameraden, 1937).

Times are hard and political factions becoming violent in Germany in 1928, but Gottfried Lenz, Otto Koster, and Robert Lohkamp have each other. Car racing and repair, roses from cloister bushes, Robby's piano playing, constant drinking-and death-are interwoven in the story of their friendship and Robby's love of Patricia Hollmann.

• Heaven Has No Favorites, 1961 (Der Himmel kennt keine Gunstlinge, 1961).

Lillian, eager for experiences denied her for three years in a sanatorium, and Clerfayt, a racing driver, make the most of their threatened time together one spring and summer in Paris, Sicily, Venice, and the Riviera. Set after World War II, but the time seems earlier.


These novels, set from about 1937 to the mid 1940s, usually feature a non-Jewish German deprived of citizenship for political reasons. He associates with other refugees, some Jewish, some from a variety of European countries, all of them avoiding European police since they have no legal papers. The plots continue the themes of All Quiet on the Western Front- brotherhood versus man's inhumanity to man-but the dialogues are tiresome debates on life, love, and politics.

• Flotsam, 1941 (Liebe deinen Nachsten, 1953).

The lives of several German refugees crisscross in 1937 Austria, Switzerland, and France-in cafes, hotels, customs offices, jails. Young Ludwig Kern and Ruth Holland survive separation, illness, poverty, and detention, to hold at last visas and tickets to Mexico.

• Arch of Triumph, 1945 (Arc de Triomphe, 1946).

German refugee Dr. Ravic and small-time actress Joan Madou meet in Paris in 1938. His illegal status and obsession with revenge on a German torturer, and her faithlessness, make their love affair a stormy one.

• The Night in Lisbon, 1964 (Die Nacht von Lissabon, 1964).

Josef Schwarz tells of going back into Nazi Germany for his wife, Helen, and with her surviving detention and pursuit by French and German authorities. But she commits suicide on the brink of sailing for New York rather than let her cancer mar their new life. Schwarz gives his passport and tickets to a fellow refugee.

• Shadows in Paradise, 1972 (Schatten im Paradies, 1971).

Robert Ross, art expert and former journalist, arrives in New York on the passport of a dead man. He works illegally in the worlds of New York art and Hollywood films during World War II. He loses his love, the model Natasha, by returning to Germany after the war for revenge (unsuccessful) on a crematorium official.


Remarque did not himself serve in World War II, and the novels lack the feeling of involvement conveyed by All Quiet on the Western Front. Like All Quiet they do, however, continue the themes of man's inhumanity to man and the value of comradeship.

• Spark of Life, 1952 (Der Funke Leben, 1952).

In a German concentration camp during the last weeks of World War II, Allied victories rekindle the spark of life in Skeleton 509. His underground movement, including the Jewish lovers Joseph Bucher and Ruth Holland, thwarts many SS atrocities. Shortly before the Americans arrive, Skeleton 509 shoots an SS man and is killed himself, but Joseph and Ruth survive.

• A Time to Love and a Time to Die, 1954 (Zeit zu leben und Zeit zu sterben, 1954).

Toward the end of World War II Ernst Graeber, a young German on the Russian Front, goes home on leave only to find his neighborhood destroyed by bombs. In searching for his parents, he is sickened by his growing knowledge of concentration camps and denunciations. He meets and marries Elisabeth Kruse, a former schoolmate. Back at the front he saves four Russian prisoners, but is himself shot by one of them as they flee.

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