In fact, "All Quiet on the Western Front" was heavily criticized when first published in Germany for being "innacurate and untruthful." For example, the publishers hinted that All Quiet was autobiographical, which it actually was not. This resulted in considerable effort being made during the late Twenties and early Thirties to investigate Remarque's own war record. Remarque was recorded to have been at the front during June-July 1917. He was in a hospital from August 3, 1917 to October 31, 1918. By contrast, the narrator of All Quiet seems to have been in infantry combat from 1916 until his death in October 1918. Also, "Paul Baumer" was depicted as an eager volunteer, while Remarque was a conscript. Remarque was always reluctant to give interviews, let alone provide precise information about his war career. Sound familiar?Frederick L Clemens wrote:Annelie, it is perfectly reasonable to compare Sajer's account with accounts by other lower-level soldiers. What made Sajer's account such a hit is that it was one of the few of its kind available in English for quite a while. As the book jacket promoted it, it was the "All Quiet on the Western Front" (Im Westen Nichts Neues) for WW2.
I've read both and recommend that anyone debating about TFS, do the same. There are similarities between TFS and All Quiet which merit a positive comparison - they both focus primarily on the point of view of the German foot soldier, especially his psychology during the terror of battle.
There are, however, some profound differences between TFS and All Quiet as well. All Quiet is clearly a work of fiction, does not digress from the soldier's viewpoint, and does not have any distracting errors. TFS, on the other hand, resides in a gray zone between fact and fiction, often speaks of things which go beyond the simple soldier's point of view, and contains a mountain of erroneous material masquerading as concrete fact.
Sajer may have been a vet, but TFS is not an "authentic" account by any stretch. All Quiet - as a work of fiction - goes way beyond TFS in the category of authenticity.
Some German veterans praised the book. Others criticized it. It was heavily attacked on the political right. A lengthy discussion of the controversy in Germany over "All Quiet on the Western Front,", can be found in the book, "Rites of Spring," by Modris Eksteins.