Taken from Arch of Triumph, the closing scenes of that novel by Erich Maria Remarque depict Paris on the verge of its catastrophe, the outbreak of the war which caused its occupation by the Nazis. Dr. Ravic, a refugee German surgeon, the central character of the novel, is watching the lights go out in Paris and the darkness enfold him and other refugees about to be shipped off to concentration camps by the French police. Mr. Remarque debated writing a comment on this excerpt but finally gave it up, saying that "in spite of all my efforts to write you a few introductory lines, I am just not made for it."
THE HOSPITAL was a cheerful place in comparison with the Catacombs. Here too was pain, sickness, and misery; but here at least it had some kind of logic and sense. One knew why it was this way and what was to be done and what not. These were facts: one could see them and one could try to do something about them.
At the hospital Dr. Veber was sitting in his examination room, reading a newspaper. Ravic looked over his shoulder. "Fine state of affairs, isn't it?"
Veber threw the paper onto the floor. "That corrupt gang! Fifty per cent of our politicians should be hanged!"
"Ninety," Ravic declared. "Did you get more news about the woman in Durant's hospital?"
"She is all right." Veber nervously reached for a cigar. "It's simple for you, Ravic. But I am a Frenchman."
"I am nothing at all. But I only wish Germany were just as corrupt as France."
Veber glanced up. "I am talking nonsense. I'm sorry." He forgot to light his cigar. "There can't be war, Ravic. It simply can't be!