American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930)


Professor Kantorek Preaches the "Glory of the Fatherland"

Audio mp3 delivered by Arnold Lucy


Professor Kantorek: Now, my beloved gents, this is what we must do. Strike with all our power. Give every ounce of strength to win victory before the end of the year. It is with reluctance that I bring this subject up again.

You are the life of the Fatherland, you boys.

You are the iron men of Germany.

You are the gay heroes who will repulse the enemy when you are called upon to do so.

It is not for me to suggest that any of you should stand up and offer to defend his country. But I wonder if such a thing is going through your heads?

I know that in one of the schools, the boys have risen up in the classroom and enlisted in a mass. But of course, if such a thing should happen here, you would not blame me for a feeling of pride.

Perhaps, some will say, that you should not be allowed to go yet -- that you are too young, that you have homes, mothers, fathers -- that you should not be torn away.

Are your fathers so forgetful of their Fatherland that they would let it perish rather than you?

Are your mothers so weak that they cannot send a son to defend the land which gave them birth?!

And after all, is a little experience such a bad thing for a boy?

Is the honor of wearing a uniform something from which we should run?

And if our young ladies glory in those who wear it, is that anything to be ashamed of?

I know you have never desired the adulation of heroes. That has not been part of my teaching. We have sought to make ourselves worthy and let acclaim come when it would. But to be foremost in battle is a virtue not to be despised.

I believe it will be a quick war, that there will be few losses. But if losses there must be, then let us remember the Latin phrase which must have come to the lips of many a Roman when he stood in battle in a foreign land:

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

("Sweet and fitting it is to die for the Fatherland.")

Some of you may have ambitions.

I know of one young man who has great promise as a writer. He has written the first act of a tragedy which would be a credit to one of the masters. And he is dreaming, I suppose, of following in the footsteps of Gerter and Schiller -- and I hope he will.

But now our country calls! The Fatherland needs leaders!! Personal ambition must be thrown aside in the one great sacrifice for our country!

Here is a glorious beginning to your lives! The field of honor calls you.

Why are we here?

You, Kraup: What has kept you back?

You, Muller: You know how much you're needed?

Ah, I see you look at your leader: I, too, look to you, Paul Baumer, and I wonder what you are going to do....

[Baumer and friends indicate their fervent willingness]

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.