In this comparison of Harold Krebs and Paul Baumer I will go over some of the similarities and differences that they experienced in combat and how it affected them during their time at home. Each of them enlisted in the war, but on opposite sides. Paul fought for the Germans and Krebs fought for the Allies.
Even though they both fought in serious combat, what they experienced was very different. Paul lost everyone he cared about, and it crushed him emotionally. He constantly questioned the purpose for the war. Whereas Harold felt that it was his obligation and for him fighting came effortlessly. For example, the author writes,
“All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them; the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally.” (Pg.1) This quote reiterates Harold’s feelings towards the war and further supports the differences between the two soldiers thoughts.
Even though each of them had different perspectives on the war it affected their life at home the same. Both soldiers struggle to adapt to home. Paul did not live to see the end of the war but did get a fourteen day leave to go visit his family and town. For the duration of his visit Paul struggled to connect with his family feeling that he there was too great a difference between them. Paul states,
“There is my mother, there is my sister, there my case of butterflies, and there the mahogany piano—but I am not myself there. There is a distance, a veil between us.” (Pg.160) In this quote Paul explains that he is with his family in there nice home, but he does not feel he belongs. It is like he comes from a separate world, and he cannot fit in with the one he grew up with.
Instead of coming home briefly during the war Harold comes home a year after the war ends. Harold missed all of the celebrations for soldiers after the war and finds himself needing to talk about it. After all of the terrible stories people have heard, the realities he experienced bore his friends and family. The author writes,
“At first Krebs, who had been at Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel and in the Argonne did not want to talk about the war at all. Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities.” Harold is forced to bottle up his feelings making it harder for him to adjust.
Both Paul and Harold reacted to war differently but the negative impact on their relationships and home stayed the same. Overall, both stories tell the struggles a soldier faces in and out of combat.