Tuesday, June 18, 2013

“Three Comrades” by Erich Maria Remarque – The Other Side of the Barricade

Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque - book cover
The two World Wars have been documented, discussed and depicted from virtually every perspective imaginable, ranging from small children caught in a crossfire all the way the leaders of each country. However, it seems that here is a startlingly small amount of attention dedicated to the small hiatus period between the two wars, a time during which many changes came to pass in Germany in a very short amount of time.

Perhaps it is instinctual to try and dehumanize the enemy as much as possible, but on every side of the barricade there are regular people struggling to survive, and that’s something Erich Maria Remarque won’t let us forget in his novel, Three Comrades.

Coming from the author of All Quiet on the Western Front, this book tells the story of three friends who are tremendously struggling to make ends meet in 1928 Germany. Poverty is rampant, and only the strong and lucky manage to keep their heads above water. Soon, things become quite heated with the sudden rise in popularity of the Nazi Party, and of course, Adolf Hitler.

However, the novel focuses on the trials and tribulations faced by the three friends as things around them are rapidly changing, becoming more violent and decadent. It is the story of three friends who have nothing but each other for support to cross this turbulent period of their lives.

As was mentioned above, the book is far from being about politics, rather delving deep into the human mind and spirit. It explores the concept of finding strength and motivation in love and friendship, and how human emotions can push us beyond boundaries we never though surmountable. It shows us that on the other side of the front, there were people just like us, struggling until their last breath to preserve their dignity and humanity. Remarque demonstrates that within every single human out there is something akin to a soul, to a personality, something that can never be taken away regardless of one’s profession or decisions.

All things considered, though Three Comrades contains plenty of heavy and gut-wrenching passages, in the end it is a very heartwarming story about people who are trying to find love, majesty and grace in an ugly, brutal and unforgiving world. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Remarque’s other books, or is looking for a more personal and compassionate look at the extremely turbulent times between the two World Wars.

Erich Maria Remarque  (June 22, 1898 - September 25, 1970) - author

Erich Maria Remarque
(June 22, 1898 - September 25, 1970)

Erich Maria Remarque was a German author whose best-known work to this day remains, without a doubt, All Quiet on the Western Front, though he certainly had other notable works including Three Comrades and Arch of Triumph. His many experiences during the war have rather visibly fueled his many thoughts and ideas he developed in his writings.

More of the Erich Maria Remarque's book reviews:
A Time to Love and a Time to Die
The Black Obelisk
The Night in Lisbon
All Quiet on the Western Front
Arch of Triumph

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