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Is General Friedrichs from All Quiet On The Western Front a real person?

November 1, 2022

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for All Quiet On the Western Front*

Netflix’s adaptation of All Quiet On The Western Front is fast becoming one of the must-watch movies of 2022 with its poignant portrayal of World War I earning high praise from viewers.

Like the literary work of Erich Maria Remarque on which it is based, the film tells the story of Paul Bäumer and his young comrades as they naively join the German army to discover the true horrors of war.

While the original book focuses almost exclusively on Paul’s experiences in the military, the new film adds a few new layers to the story with the inclusion of peace negotiator Matthias Erzberger and ambitious General Friedrichs.

However, while Daniel Brühl portrays an actual character in Erzberger, fans are wondering if the same can be said for General Friedrichs or if he’s a character created just for Netflix’s All Quiet On The Western Front.


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General Friedrichs in All Quiet On The Western Front

Played by German actor David Striesow, General Friedrichs is introduced a third of the way through All Quiet On The Western Front as he accompanies Erzberger and the other German negotiators to their rendezvous with their Allied counterparts.

Sporting an impressive and obviously evil mustache, Friedrichs believes efforts to end the war are treacherous against Germany as well as an obstacle to his own ambitions to have an illustrious military career in the same vein as his ancestors.

Friedrichs cares little for his troops and even though peace is currently being negotiated, he repeatedly orders new attacks on the enemy, condemning thousands of soldiers to death for little or no gain.

On the last day of the war, as the minutes tick away until the armistice goes into effect, Friedrichs orders a final attack to end the war in style despite the obvious futility of such an act.

Felix Kammerer as Paul Bäumer in All Quiet On The Western FrontAll Quiet on the Western Front © Netflix | Reiner Bajo

Was General Friedrichs inspired by a real person?

No, General Friedrichs is not based on any specific real-life German general and is, in fact, a fictional character created for this new adaptation of All Quiet On The Western Front as he did not appear in the original novel .

However, although Friedrichs is not an actual historical figure, he was inspired by the actions of several real-life officers on both sides during the final days of World War I.

As a result, the general’s inclusion in the film reflects the spirit of the original novel which is a fictionalized story but was inspired by author Erich Maria Remarque’s own combat experiences during World War I.

In an interview with Collider, the film’s director, Edward Berger, discussed General Friedrichs’ inspirations and detailed some of the research that went into creating the character.

“[An] an important part was finding the generals who made the last attack and that actually happened a lot, both Germans and Americans. American generals and officers also commanded their troops into battle,” he explained. “Just to mend a hole in the map or to go home and tell their parents, wives, brothers and sisters that they won the last battle, and there was a congressional hearing on that afterwards as well , why these people were sent to battle.”

“You think, ‘Oh, it’s almost over. Everyone survive and it’s over. I almost think why do we have to do this? continues the director. “I basically want you to feel like Paul when he stands there and the general says, ‘Let’s all go into that last battle. He just has his face, and it’s just dead. I wanted you to feel the same and just experience how it wears you down, and you become dead inside and some go through what he goes through, so that was intentional, yeah.

David Striesow as General Friedrichs in All Quiet On The Western FrontAll is quiet on the Western Front © Netflix

The Last Day of World War I

As All Quiet On The Western Front shows, fighting still took place during the six hours between the signing of the armistice and its entry into force at 11 a.m. on November 11.

This was largely because the generals hoped to achieve one last victory before the fighting ceased and the battle lines were frozen.

Joseph E. Persico’s book 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour states that this consequently resulted in 10,944 additional casualties on the last day of the war, including 2,738 men who lost their lives within hours of the entry into force of the armistice.

An American soldier named Henry Gunther is generally recognized as the last soldier to die in World War I, as he was killed just 60 seconds before the armistice while charging at German soldiers preparing for the start of the ceasefire -fire.

One of the most notable instances of generals disapproving of the armistice was General John Pershing, an American Expeditionary Force commander who allegedly prevented news of the ceasefire from reaching his troops.

His alleged actions later led to an investigation which saw him being questioned by Congress, although no one was found guilty of wrongdoing.

Felix Kammerer as Paul Bäumer, Albrecht Schuch as StanislasAll Quiet on the Western Front © Netflix | Reiner Bajo

All Quiet On The Western Front is available to stream on Netflix after its release on October 28, 2022.

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