All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter 10
The men are assigned guard duty in an abandoned village. They are supposed to guard a supply dump inside the village. Kat, Albert, Tjaden, Muller, and Detering are all there. Paul thinks of Haie Westhus, but he is dead. The men settle into a basement of a bombed-out home and relax. Paul and Kat patrol the empty houses and find two little pigs. The men decide to make a huge feast with fresh vegetables. They find a fully-equipped kitchen, slaughter the pigs, and get to work cooking. They make a huge meal of pig, potato-cakes, and vegetables. Two radio-men visit and join in the feast.
Soon, they realize their mistake. The smoke from their cooking has been spotted and the enemy begins to shell their house. They refuse to leave the food half-cooked. With shells exploding around them, they finish cooking and haul their food back to their basement. They all make it safely through heavy shelling. The food stretches out over several hours, and they find officer's coffee and tobacco in the supply dump. That night, they find a kitten and feed it, and eat yet again.
The men have stuffed themselves too much, however. The fat on the pig makes them all very sick, and they have to go to the bathroom frequently. By four in the morning, all eleven men are squatting outside, relieving themselves. The supply dump is blown open and other soldiers swarm in and steal food. Paul and the other guards trade the other soldiers food for things they need, including chocolate to calm their bowels.
Two weeks pass with Paul and his comrades happily wasting their days guarding the supply dump. They do nothing but relax and treat themselves. Another week, and they are ordered back to the front. They load some treasures on the truck, put the kitten in a birdcage, and head back, signing happily.
They are sent out to evacuate a village. They don't expect the French to fire on them while escorting civilians, but they do. The men scatter. Albert is hit in the knee. Paul grabs him and they run. They find a dug-out and stop. Paul realized he is wounded as well, and the two men bandage each other. Albert is having trouble moving his leg. Paul crawls to an ambulance, and they are taken to a dressing-station. While laying there, Albert swears he will kill himself rather than be a cripple. The surgeon comes to look at Paul, who refuses to be chloroformed out of fear that they will amputate his leg. The surgeon pokes around in his wound, digs out a piece of shell, and tells Paul he is going home.
Once back with Albert, Paul makes a plan to make sure the two of them stay together. He gives the medical sergeant-major some cigars and promises him more if Albert and he stay together. The next morning, they are loaded onto the train. Paul doesn't want to get in his bed, because he doesn't want to get in a clean bed with lice. The nurse laughs and tells him to get in.
Later, Paul needs to go to the bathroom, but he cannot bring himself to ask the young pretty nurse for help. He falls out of bed trying to get up. Finally, Albert tells the nurse what Paul needs, and she gives Paul a bottle to urinate in. After a few hours, most of the men have bottles, and modesty isn't a problem anymore.
Paul hears that Albert will be getting off the train to have his fever treated, so he fakes a fever as well. They are put in a Catholic hospital, where they get good care but are awakened by the nuns praying in the morning. Paul shouts for quiet, but one of the nuns tells him that prayer is more important than sleep. Finally, Paul throws a bottle at the door of their room, and the nuns, offended, shut their door. At noon, an investigator comes and yells at them for abusing the nuns. He asks who threw the bottle and another man, Josef, admits guilt before Paul can speak up. When the investigator leaves, the man tells everyone that he has a "shooting license," a certificate saying that he is not responsible for his actions.
That night, one of the men in their room complains that he is bleeding. It takes forever to get the night nurse to respond. When she does, they see that the man is looking very sick. Within a few days, he is gone. Josef tells them that they have taken him to the Dying Room, where terminal patients die. Later, another man, Peter, is rolled out of their room, but he realizes that they are taking him to die and tries to stop them. The last Paul sees of him is him yelling, "I will come back again! I will come back again!" Chapter 10, pg. 258
Paul is operated on. It makes him very sick, and he vomits a lot. Two flat-footed men arrive at the hospital. Josef warns them that the Chief Surgeon likes experimenting on flat-footed men, trying to correct the problem, and that they should refuse any treatment that doesn't have anything to do with their injury. The men take his advice, but the surgeon wears them down and gets them to agree to the procedure. Meanwhile, Kropp loses his leg. He is threatening suicide. A new blind man tries to kill himself with a fork. As the days go on, many men die. The mood of the hospital is bleak, until one day, when Peter is brought back to their room. None of the men expected to see him come back from the Dying Room, but he is proud and much healthier. Josef is stunned.
As Paul gets better, he can use crutches, but he avoids Albert's gaze. When he moves around, he leaves the room, so he doesn't have to look at Albert. He wanders the hallways of the hospital and sees all the injured men dying. He thinks of how his hospital is just one of thousands in Germany, France, and Russia, and is blown away at the sheer number of soldiers dying:
"I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another." Chapter 10, pg. 263
Lewandowski is a married man in Paul's room. He is very excited because his wife, who he hasn't seen in two years, is coming to visit. However, Lewandowski is worried that he won't be able to get away from the hospital to have sex with his wife. The men recommend some good spots in the town where they could be alone, but they don't know a sure way to get him out. When his wife arrives, he introduces her to the other men in the room. She changed her baby's diaper, and the two sit and talk. One of the men checks the hallway, and tells him that the coast is clear. Then they set up a distraction for the sisters and let Lewandowski and his wife have sex in his hospital bed while they play skat with their backs turned. Albert holds the baby. Once it is over, Lewandowski and his wife give out sausage slices to the men. They are very happy and glowing.
After a few more weeks, Albert and Paul finally must separate. Albert goes to an institute for artificial limbs, and Paul goes home for sick leave, then back to the front.