Erich Maria Remarque

On this date in 1898, German author Erich Maria Remarque was born Erich Paul Remark in Osnabruck, Germany. Remarque is known for writing All Quiet on the Western Front, a novel published in 1928 that chronicled the challenges and reality of the life of a German soldier in World War I. He was drafted when he was 18 and stationed on the Western Front, where he received several shrapnel injuries and spent the rest of the war in a hospital. After the war he trained to become a teacher and held different teaching jobs, quitting one after he clashed with the school’s priest.

Remarque sent a complaint in 1920 to the local education board about the priest that read in part, “He tells me off in the highest tones as if I were a schoolboy. ‘You must go to church more. … You are a bad model for the children. … You do nothing at all in religion.” (Quoted in Tims’ 2004 biography.) He then moved around to a variety of writing jobs, including technical writing and reporting.

All Quiet on the Western Front was an immediate success, and he changed his middle name to honor his mother, Anna Maria, and changed his last name back to its former spelling. Remarque wrote over a dozen other books. In 1933 during the Nazi rise to power his books were banned and burned. The Nazis spread propaganda that he was Jewish and did not fight in WW I. He fled to the U.S. in 1939. His sister, Elfriede Scholz, was beheaded by the Nazis in 1943.

Remarque was married three times. At the time of his death he was married to actress Paulette Goddard, whom he wed in 1958. (D. 1970)

Freedom From Religion Foundation