All Quiet on the Western Front

what is the authors purpose in showing pauls reaction to the russian prisoners

chapter 8-10

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The author wants to show that the misery of war is universal. Paul feels sorry for the Russian prisoners.. They have become hollow men, they have given up. They live, more or less, in cages. They used to sing and play music but now they just beg for food. Paul notes that they had even stopped "masturbating". I'm not sure how Paul knows this!