The Opponents Different Perspectives of War
The First World War occupied the time period from 1914 to 1918. In the entire human history “it was one of the utmost appalling occurrences whereby masses of people were exterminated and battered” (Fussell, 2009). From the war memoirs and numerous books, it is manifest that some of the soldiers adored the war, and some of them detested it. However, it is quite difficult to assess how they actually felt about it. This article will try to articulate the differences between German and English involvements during the First World War. More explicitly, it will analyze the experiences of Ernst Junger and Siegfried Sassoon.
Ernst Junger was a German author, a philosopher, and a soldier. He was born in 1894. Ernst wrote memoirs, articles and maxims. Notably, Junger wrote The Storm of Steel, which covers his experiences on the Western Front through the World War I. The book is a realistic account of the trench war.
At the end of 1915, he was promoted to a lieutenant in the German military. During 1916, he took place in the Battle of the Somme, in 1917 in the Battle of Cambrai and in the 1918 Spring Offensive. , he was one of the most conflicting and contentious figures of the twentieth century. He passed away in 1998.
Siegfried Sassoon, born in 1886, was an English poet, writer, and also a soldier. During the World War I, he had to write in the trenches where he started to compose the poems for which he reminisces. At the beginning, his poetry gained insignificant attention, but in the following decades his reputation developed progressively. His style leans towards nationalism and describes the atrocities of the war. Also, the poems ridicule the patriotic affectations of those who were accountable for war.
He organized some public demonstration against the war. 1917, Sassoon became a central figure of dissension within the armed forces after voicing disapproval of the furtherance of war in his Soldier’s Declaration. He did not participate in the Battle of the Somme due to the fact that his division was at standby at Kingston Road. All through the Battle of Arras, Sassoon’s group was had to fallback. In the course of the Battle of Scarpe, a German gunman shot him between the shoulders. In 1919, he stepped down from his command and left the army. He passed away in 1967.
Experiences of Ernst Junger in the First World War
Ernst Junger’s The Storm of Steel is a very fascinating book. His assessment of the battle was vehement, and he did not hesitate to describe the atrocious injuries in precise details. Unlike other authors of memoir; Junger did not feel repulsion from the violence of the war. According to him, the war was chiefly a valuable experience that left soldiers with an optimistic legacy of friends and well-learned lessons.
He said, “Time only reinforces my persuasion that the battle, for all its violence, was an unrivaled training of the heart.” (Habeck, 2003). His intentions in writing The Storm of Steel were of political nature. He believed in the Renaissance and rearmament of Germany. One of his objectives was to preserve the legend of an undefeated German army. Junger wrote about the German soldiers who fought with unrelieved confidence up to the bitter end of the war in spite of the overpowering human and material resources of the opponents. He believed that the Germans could achieve victory by their faith in the prominence of Germany and their firm devotion and commitment to the country and their duties.
The vital objective of the book was to impart a sense of national pride to the German people and to persuade them in the immensity of pre-war Germany’s might and to rebuild it. Junger’s judgment of the war generation stands in undeviating divergence to those who spoke of a heritage of resentment and isolation. “We stand in the reminiscence of the deceased who are sacred to us, and we consider ourselves assigned with the correct and divine wellbeing of our people” (Habeck, 2003).
Junger was fearless to acknowledge that there were times when German soldiers committed ostensible acts of violence. He wrote, for example, that German soldiers occasionally exterminated British troops who were trying to surrender. Nor was he scared, despite the anti-French sentiment of many German nationalists, to praise the French people for their compassion. He wrote that all combatants have the French army and people for an example.
Junger spent four years in the war. Ernst Junger believed that good management was the key to a sustainable determination.
Many scholars considered him a ferocious German nationalist. There is no doubt that Junger’s intentions in writing The Storm of Steel were civil. He was a person who believed in the restoration and rearmament of Germany; one of his objectives was to preserve the legend of an undefeated German military might.
Experience of Sassoon in the First World War
With the unfolding of the First World War, Sassoon made a decision to participate in it for partisan reasons. In 1915, he received some military training and was sent to France to serve in the infantry at the western front. In spite of the information concerning his audacity, he was soon astounded by the repulsions of the war and lost all beliefs about its aristocracy and impartiality. Later, while he was at home recovering from wounds, he sent a letter of complaint to his commander, in which he stated his refusal to fight anymore. At that time, he no longer believed in the just cause of the war. He was psychologically affected.
His poems, in spite of all dissimilarities in style, method, language, and approach, uncover the heartless influence of the war on the soldiers. They also describe the dehumanization of soldiers by their commanders, who displayed apparent indifferent to the lives and misery of the soldiers. They further illustrate ineffectuality and hopelessness of their trench warfare life, and the loss of their youth and lives in the war. Therefore, these poems are full of humanistic feelings directed towards young soldiers in the trenches.
One of the significant themes that Sassoon typically presents is the indispensable certainty concerning the day-to-day life of the soldiers in the trenches. These lives are full of dreadful facts, feelings and ideas, particularly prevalent at the time of an attack. Unlike those writers who adore the bravery of soldiers at such periods, Sassoon refuses to fabricate the truth by overstating the partisanship of soldiers. He further describes the zeal of combatants for struggling and laying their lives for their nation.
Sassoon accepts the reality by exposing the anxiety, fear of death, and physical fatigue of the soldiers. He is irritated at the way these young men are taken from their usual peaceful lives in order to go through a challenging and agonizing life. The desolation of men incapable of endure the struggles of life in trenches with its filth, cold, and the scarcity of food and water pushes them to commit suicide in order to avoid this hopelessness.
In most cases, Sassoon is annoyed with the people at home who lack knowledge of what this war really was, yet who are so passionate about it, asserting and inspiring the young people to take part in it. In many of his poems, “Sassoon shows charitable compassions with the German soldiers and their distressed mothers” (Sassoon, 2013). Thus, Sassoon deplores the war as a pointless, hostile means that causes much grief for the innocent young men who were forced to go through it. In most circumstances, they lack a firm understanding of the causes for the war, which could have served as an actual motivation for them to join the war willingly.
In most of his poems, Sassoon is full of resentment at those men and women at home who think they know what a war is tasting its horrid and bitter truth. Thus, his poems are uproar of dissent from those people. Sassoon deals with the abrupt, with the day-to-day life, with the experiences of soldiers at the front line. He observes their life and their worries, dismays or miseries every time so that his poems develop a comprehensive record of the daily activities in the soldiers’ trench lives.
Sassoon and Junger
Sassoon and Junger praised bravery and shared a conceited enthusiasm for the war, viewing the conflict as a proving ground for themselves. Sassoon believed that death was unavoidable. Nonethless, Junger and Sassoon significantly contrasted from each other in their responses to the varying views of the war. Junger held to his imaginative hopefulness, never representing that he feared death, even after numerous severe injuries to the head and chest. By contrast, Sassoon never appeared to even consider that he would see the end of the war. His irresponsible attacks on German trenches stemmed from his notion that “Earlier or later I would possibly get murdered too”.
Sassoon accentuated enormous dissimilarities of the capabilities between combatants and civilians. Junger articulated the discord. Junger described “aggression to his opponents, however, his violence was not driven by an aspiration for individual retaliation like Sassoon’s” (Fussell, 2009).
Finally, “German and British memoirs divulge that French citizens were mostly welcoming toward the Germans than to the British” (Witt, 2010). German autobiographies, by disparity, illustrate the French residents as very courteous. These outlooks to the French were not different; however, it is exciting to acknowledge their opinion during the time of war. Any reading of the First World War ought to embrace an analysis of an extensive selection of war autobiographies. The memoirs, as mentioned above, demonstrate that soldiers expressed a wide variety of feelings, emotions and opinions regarding the war.