They left for war as Boys, never to return as men.
Paul Baumer, a healthy optimist, graduates during World War I and like his twenty classmates volunteers for the German imperial army. Their naives romantic illusion starts turning sour during training in Oldenburg under sadistic corporal Himmelstoss, who later proves himself a coward at the front, yet is decorated by Kaiser Wilhelm, unlike many braver boys. Sensitive Franz Kemmerich, the friend whose mother made Paul promise to watch over his mate, is the first to perish in hospital, where amputations and neglect abound, yet when it's Paul's turn to be treated for a wound he survives. Many friends perish on the French battle fields or in the trenches: hellholes under shell - and toxic gas-threat, full of mud and corps-picking rats, where veteran Stanislaus 'Kat' Katczinsky tries to teach the ever younger recruits practical survival skills, although often too late. Even easy killing of enemies becomes gruesome when the boys meet a deadly wounded French soldier and hungry girls face to face.