So a couple weeks ago some videos of women’s fashion and VAD Nurse outfits were posted and they were extremely interesting. Well, I guess my computer knows I am in a class about WWI so my youtube is recommending to me WWI related videos. So, here is a video about British Soldiers and their kits during the war that I thought I would share with you all.
In both All Quiet on the Western Front and Not So Quiet, we see such an odd appreciation for the escape from war death brings. In All Quiet, Paul and Kat see the dying recruit and consider shooting him to putting him out of his misery. In Not So Quiet, Helen sees in chapter two that one of the men she was transporting in her ambulance has died and says “He died as the stretcher-bearers lifted him out. I was glad…Out of hell at last” (Smith 40).
This disturbing appreciation of death is really jarring to me. Did anyone else have any similar reactions?
I’m not sure exactly which rabbit hole I fell into to find these, but I found some really interesting late 1920s to early 1930s cartoons depicting life during The Great War.
This first one is an Oswald the Rabbit cartoon directed by Walt Disney entitled “Great Guns.” It features a lot of the new technology being developed including tanks and machine guns although it also shows some of the more “primitive” weapons people were forced to use in the war.
I think this cartoon is super interesting because(as we touched on a little bit in class) World War I marked really the beginning of a move from personal combat (and to hand combat and people actively killing each other face to face like Paul did to Duval) to removed combat (much like the contemporary style we use today where often times people never really come face to face/ warfare becoming more mechanized).
This second cartoon, also an Oswald the Rabbit piece, is called “Not So Quiet” (already interesting since All Quiet on the Western Front was published the year before this was released). “Not So Quiet” more prominently features aspects of trench warfare (even going into aspects as detailed as the amount of water and liquids that would accumulate inside the trenches). Another neat addition to this cartoon is the depiction of armistice at the end. We spoken lightly in class about how so many people knew the war would come to an end and so countless lives were lost wastefully. This cartoon shows that with Oswald being chased by a bomb until the armistice and then just having the chase end.
The final cartoon is an early example of Looney Tunes and is called “Bosko the Doughboy.” It clearly shows what life in the trenches was like down to the louse on the sergeant. This one also shows the water in the trenches and the boards placed on the ground to make walking in them easier.
I think all of the cartoons are super neat, not only because of the way they depict World War One, but because of how it seems like the world was coping with what had happened after the fact.
I want to open a spot for discussion here.
In chapter nine, Paul achieves his first personal kill in the war by mortally wounding a French soldier. Instead of leaving him to die, however, Paul is overcome with immense guilt and tries to make the man’s passing comfortable- or about as comfortable you can be on the battlefield.
The point of interest is the little speech he gives after the soldier dies. He claims to have finally seen that this man wasn’t just an enemy soldier, but a person with a family and a life just like him.
“Why do they never tell us that you poor devils are like us… that we have the same fear of death… how could you be my enemy?”
We have talked about desensitization and the “spell” of it being broken in class. Only instead of it happening at home, it’s happened to Paul on the battlefield. Despite everything Paul has been through at this point, has the war been made more real for him? Paul no longer considers himself a child- the war has changed him- but had he still held a certain ignorance that killing soldier killed as well? Does the fact he decides not to keep the promises he made the dead soldier subvert any sort of realization he may have had?