When Paul Buumer and his classmates join the army, nothing has prepared them for the death and destruction that they witness. Machine guns, huge artillery shells and poison gas create a nightmare world for these young men and their older comrades. For months and years attack is followed by counter-attack. Will any of Paul's friends survive long enough to return to their families and loved ones? Will there be a place for them at home, when peace finally comes? Can any of these soldiers make sense of the massive conflict in which they are involved?