All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter 9 Summary

Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

In Chapter 9 of Erich Maria Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, the soldiers get a surprise, and Paul volunteers to go to no man's land where he encounters a French soldier.


In Chapter 8 of Erich Maria Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul saw the Russian prisoners' misery up close. Paul's sister and father brought him jam and pancakes made by his mother.


As Chapter 9 of All Quiet on the Western Front begins, Paul waits behind the front line for Second Company to return, and learns that it is always sent to where the fighting is heaviest, which worries him.

Early the next morning, Second Company comes back. Paul is happy to find Kat, Tjaden, Muller, and Kropp still alive and unhurt. He happily shares his potato pancakes and jam with them, and realizes he is more comfortable here than at home.

Shortly after Paul's arrival, soldiers are given brand new clothes, and there are many inspections. Everyone feels uneasy. They are wondering why these things are happening, and they are expecting the worst.

Finally, word gets out that the Kaiser, German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II, is coming to visit the front. The soldiers are relieved, but they are still not big fans of all the cleanings and inspections, either.

The soldiers are all excited to see what the Kaiser looks like. He arrives eight days later, talks to a few soldiers, and hands out some Iron Crosses, today's equivalent to the American Bronze Star, which are often awarded for bravery in combat. The Kaiser then leaves Second Company.

Tjaden and the others, not at all impressed by the Kaiser, discuss his importance, and wonder if he had said no would there have still been a war. Paul says that would not have made a difference, but if 20 or 30 people like him had said no, then there would have not been a war.

The soldiers then talk about the war, and who it benefits, if anyone at all. After much discussion, they come to the conclusion that war only benefits the emperors and generals who want to be remembered in history. But then they realize that none of it makes any difference to them, and so they end their discussion.

A Dutch copy of the novel.

No Man's Land

One night, a patrol is formed to find out the true strength of the enemy position, and Paul volunteers to go with his friends. They split up and crawl in all directions out into no man's land, the area between enemy trenches, often under heavy fire.

Things get scary when Paul gets lost on his way back to his trench. As he is searching for the trench, heavy shelling begins, which is a sign that an attack will start very soon. Paul crawls into a shell hole to wait out the attack.

Eventually, the gunfire and shelling slow down, and Paul gets ready to get out and find his way back. But just then, a French soldier jumps into Paul's shell hole, and lands on top of him. Without thinking, Paul stabs him with his knife. The French soldier gurgles for a few seconds, wounded in the lungs, then stops.


Paul has never killed anyone in hand-to-hand combat, and he feels very uneasy. All he wants to do is go back to his trench and his friends, but daylight has already broken, and he realizes he is too close to the enemy lines. If he leaves the safety of the shell hole, he will surely be killed by machine gun fire.

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