All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen Nichts Neues) (1928/1930)

Both the novel by Erich Maria Remarque (1898—1970), first published in German in 1929, and its Universal Studios film adaptation of 1930 directed by Lewis Milestone (1895—1980) are potent examples of propaganda for peace. Both presented a devastating picture of World War I from the point of view of a small group of German soldiers. They join the army fresh out of school, fired by the patriotic speeches of their teacher, but soon learn the harsh realities of trench warfare. The narrative exposes the futility of a war that, the characters eventually realize, is being fought to serve the interests of a few kings and arms manufacturers. The novel and film both exposed the powerful effect of war propaganda on European societies in 1914 and themselves became propaganda for the peace movement of the 1930s on both sides of the Atlantic. In Germany the film and novel were equally condemned and banned by Joseph Goebbels (1897—1945). In the United States the film suffered at the hands of the censors, who were concerned by the level of violence and a scene showing sexual contact between the soldiers and a French women. In 1939 Universal released a bastardized version of the film containing an anti-Nazi commentary designed to fit the new propaganda needs of World War II.

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