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All Quiet on the Western Front - Paul Writes to His Friend at Home

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Dear Marx,

I know it has been a while since I've last talked to you, but things have started to get pretty hectic around here since you have left. All the folks back home are probably oblivious to how devastating this war truly is through the spread of propaganda. We both fell victim to this when we enlisted, especially through the hands of our old schoolmaster Kantorek. He made us believe that we had to join the army, for it was our patriotic duty to help our fatherland. One of our classmates (I do not know if you remember him) Joseph Behm, never wanted to join the war effort in the first place, but eventually conceded. Behm was one of the first men to die, and the images of him getting shot in the eye and suffering as he dies slowly still haunt me every night when I try to sleep. It is incredible how someone who never wanted a part in something, ultimately is the first to be affected by it. Behm never got a chance to live his life. Like us, he was only nineteen years old, and had so much in front of him, but will never be able to experience it. Death is one of the only things you can count on while on the front. From my first battle, I have been constantly surrounded by horror, shells tearing bodies apart, soldiers' stomachs bubbling from gasses, and the fear of never knowing when my time is up. This war has done more than just take away the lives of soldiers, it has taken away our innocence. I personally am a victim of this. We soldiers travel to brothels to satisfy our sexual needs. Some of us go more than others, like Leer is a pretty frequent customer, but you remember him back in town. Anyway, while some may feel satisfied through these actions, I am not. These acts are just through desire and recreation, there is no love or passion behind any of it. Love is something the war has stripped me of. I have never been able to experience it, and probably never will. Guess you'll never have to worry about coming to my wedding. There was one time recently, when I thought I experienced some sort of connection with a women. There were these French girls across a canal from us, and we swam across the water at night to get to them. There was this one brunette, who was extremely beautiful, who I sort of "connected" with. This was the first time we really engaged in any sort of contact with the enemy side that did not involve any fighting. However, she was not interested in me to find love or anything of that nature, she simply wanted food from me since their rations are so minute. Amazing how women can fool with a man's mind, I hope your experiences with women back home are different. I remember growing up you and Francine were the perfect couple. It was a shame that you guys had to break up once you got enlisted. I am curious to know where you two stand, especially since you got shipped back. To get my mind off of all the atrocities of the war, I have been working on a play called "Saul."



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