All Quiet on the Western Front ending explained – why is this Netflix film anti-war?

By Marc Miller
Published: October 28, 2022 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)

We discuss the ending of the Netflix film All Quiet on the Western Front (2022), which will contain spoilers.

By the time Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky (Albrecht Abraham Schuch) and Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) made it through their last battle, they thought they had survived the war. They are the only two left after their final charge because Tjaden Stackfleet (Edin Hasanovic) killed himself by repeatedly stabbing his neck with a fork after realizing he would never be allowed to be a police officer with his mangled leg.

Both wake up the following day, and Kat almost thinks he has lost his hearing because it is so quiet. They celebrate by returning to that same farm they stole the goose. Paul steals some eggs, and they drink them plain. When Kat goes to use the bathroom in the woods, the child who saw the soldiers steal their food again follows him into those woods. They shoot Kat in the liver, causing black blood to come out of his stomach. By the time Paul carries Kat to the medical area, he has already died. The bullet caused his liver to rupture, and he died of poisoning.

That is when it was announced that the German general had other plans, even though there was a deal for the war to end in six hours. He said he would send the remaining soldiers on one last march to take over the French trench. A few of the soldiers voiced that they would not go. At this point, everyone thought they were going home. Officers pulled those men and shot them against a wall, treating them as deserters.

Paul manages to evade being shot as they charge behind French lines and into the trench. When he fights a French soldier, they both tumble down some stairs. As they stand, they look at each other, no more than six feet. Paul can see the stairs behind his enemy, who cannot be older than himself. That’s when Paul is stabbed with a bayonet from behind, the blade going through his chest. 

Seconds later, there is an announcement the war is over as the clock reaches eleven-hundred hours. Paul dies a few minutes later, slumped against the wall in the French trench. A young German soldier gathering dog tags sees Paul and takes the pair of a young woman’s underwear passed between his group from his hands.

All Quiet on the Western Front ending explained – why is this Netflix film anti-war?

The ending of All Quiet on the Western Front brings a succinct message about war.

Over seventeen million soldiers died in the first World War. For nothing more than pride, three million died at an imaginary line that only covered a few hundred meters of ground. You will notice that Paul Bäumer sees the poster his friend hung. At the film’s beginning, this area was originally under German control. This cycle of bloodshed for this small parcel of the land went back and forth until the final seconds before the eleven-hundredth-hour countdown.

All Quiet on the Western Front‘s theme is anti-war, and it is seen throughout the film. Soldiers are treated as cattle, rushing them in as soon as they arrive at the front without any real training. Babyface soldiers unknowingly were given uniforms of fallen soldiers that had been recycled and cleaned fresh off the battlefield. Bäumer arrived with his mates and lost most of them by the end of his first night. All are joining together as a product of youthful ignorance. His last friend from his group is killed when he fails to run and is set on fire by French soldiers with blow torches. A few short weeks prior, they celebrated the idea of all going off to war together.

By the time Bäumer was critically wounded in the film’s final scenes, it was right before the cease-fire. Everything stopped and indeed showed how pointless the whole exercise had been. The lore of stories about patriotism, pride, and dying for your country was deconstructed, and the horrors of war are all that was left for everyone to see.

What did you think of the ending of the Netflix film All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)? Comment below.

More Stories on All Quiet on the Western Front

Endings Explained, Movies, Movies - Ending Explained, Netflix, Streaming Service