The war is over and the soldiers go home. What they find there is not what they spent four years dreaming about. When they get home there is protest all over Germany. Those who did not serve are giving lofty speeches about what the soldiers did on the battlefield to the returning soldiers who knew what happened. Ernst and several of the others go back to school to finish their educations but they have a hard time with it. They are too battle weary and too emotionally scarred to fit in to civilian life. Some go back to their "aristocratic" lifestyle and forget the camaraderie of the Front. Others try to get back their old lives but have changed too much to understand those who stayed home. Others try but cannot fit in. Some have breakdowns; others commit suicide. Those who were not in battle have no understanding what these men have gone through. Ernst tells it like it is and Ludwig does also. None who came home alive escaped unscarred.
This sequel to ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT shows what is like for those coming back and the disrespect given to them, especially if on the losing side. A generation was lost. No one cares but these men whose lives were stolen and broken. This is a book that should be taught in school so that those who will be called to serve in future wars know that it is not glory and victory that come from war but loss--of self, of friends, of home, of life. Was it worth it? Ludwig was right. It was not.