All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Screenwriter(s): George Abbott
In the Trenches With a Dying Enemy Soldier
I want to help you. I want to help you… (He listened to the dying man’s screams) Stop that! Stop it! Stop it! I can bear the rest of it. I can’t listen to that! Why do you take so long dying? You’re going to die anyway. Oh, no. Oh, no. You won’t die. Oh, no. You won’t die. They’re only little wounds. You’ll get home. You’ll be all right. You’ll get home long before I will.
You know I can’t run away. That’s why you accuse me. I tell you, I didn’t want to kill you. I tried to keep you alive. If you jumped in here again, I wouldn’t do it. You see, when you jumped in here, you were my enemy – and I was afraid of you. But you’re just a man like me, and I killed you. Forgive me, comrade. Say that for me. Say you forgive me! Oh, no. You’re dead! Only you’re better off than I am. You’re through. They can’t do any more to you now. Oh, God, why did they do this to us? We only wanted to live, you and I. Why should they send us out to fight each other? If we threw away these rifles and these uniforms, you could be my brother just like Kat and Albert. You’ll have to forgive me, comrade. I’ll do all I can. I’ll write to your parents. I’ll write to — I’ll write to your wife. I’ll write to her. I promise she’ll not want for anything. And I’ll help her and your parents, too. Only forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me! Forgive me! (sobbing
In perhaps the most memorable, painfully bleak scene of the film, young soldier Paul Baumer (Lew Ayres) became trapped in a World War I shell hole with a mortally wounded Frenchman, and he was forced to remain with the groaning, dying man through the night as life slowly ebbed from the man. Anguished when the man died, Paul spoke to the corpse – he delivered an impassioned speech to the man, pleading for forgiveness from the corpse of the soldier he had killed. In other circumstances, the Frenchman could have been a friend or a comrade rather than the enemy.