All Quiet on the Western Front

Minor characters


Kantorek was the schoolmaster of Paul and his friends, including Kropp, Leer, Müller, and Behm. Behaving "in a way that cost [him] nothing," Kantorek is a strong supporter of the war and encourages Bäumer and other students in his class to join the war effort. Among twenty enlistees was Joseph Behm, the first of the class to die in battle. In an example of tragic irony, Behm was the only one who did not want to enter the war.

Kantorek is a hypocrite, urging the young men he teaches to fight in the name of patriotism, while not voluntarily enlisting himself. In a twist of fate, Kantorek is later called up as a soldier as well. He very reluctantly joins the ranks of his former students, only to be drilled and taunted by Mittelstädt, one of the students he had earlier persuaded to enlist.

Peter Leer

Leer is an intelligent soldier in Bäumer's company, and one of his classmates. He is very popular with women; when he and his comrades meet three French women, he is the first to seduce one of them. Bäumer describes Leer's ability to attract women by saying "Leer is an old hand at the game". In chapter 11, Leer is hit by a shell fragment, which also hits Bertinck. The shrapnel tears open Leer's hip, causing him to bleed to death quickly. His death causes Paul to ask himself, "What use is it to him now that he was such a good mathematician in school?"[3]


Lieutenant Bertinck is the leader of Bäumer's company. His men have a great respect for him, and Bertinck has great respect for his men. He permits them to eat the rations of the men that had been killed in action, standing up to the chef Ginger who would only allow them their allotted share. Bertinck is genuinely despondent when he learns that few of his men had survived an engagement.

When he and the other characters are trapped in a trench under heavy attack, Bertinck, who has been injured in the firefight, spots a flamethrower team advancing on them. He gets out of cover and takes aim on the flamethrower but misses, and gets hit by enemy fire. With his next shot he kills the flamethrower, and immediately afterwards an enemy shell explodes on his position blowing off his chin. The same explosion also fatally wounds Leer.


Corporal Himmelstoß (spelled Himmelstoss in some editions) was a postman before enlisting in the war. He is a power-hungry corporal with special contempt for Paul and his friends, taking sadistic pleasure in punishing the minor infractions of his trainees during their basic training in preparation for their deployment. Paul later figures that the training taught by Himmelstoß made them "hard, suspicious, pitiless, and tough" but most importantly it taught them comradeship. However, Bäumer and his comrades have a chance to get back at Himmelstoß because of his punishments, mercilessly whipping him on the night before they board trains to go to the front.

Himmelstoß later joins them at the front, revealing himself as a coward who shirks his duties for fear of getting hurt or killed, and pretends to be wounded because of a scratch on his face. Paul Bäumer beats him because of it and when a lieutenant comes along looking for men for a trench charge, Himmelstoß joins and leads the charge. He carries Haie Westhus's body to Bäumer after he is fatally wounded. Matured and repentant through his experiences Himmelstoß later asks for forgiveness from his previous charges. As he becomes the new staff cook, to prove his friendship he secures two pounds of sugar for Bäumer and half a pound of butter for Tjaden.


Detering is a farmer who constantly longs to return to his wife and farm. He is also fond of horses and is angered when he sees them used in combat. He says, "It is of the vilest baseness to use horses in the war," when the group hears several wounded horses writhe and scream for a long time before dying during a bombardment. He tries to shoot them to put them out of misery, but is stopped by Kat to keep their current position hidden. He is driven to desert when he sees a cherry tree in blossom, which reminds him of home too much and inspires him to leave. He is found by military police and court-martialed, and is never heard from again.

Josef Hamacher

Hamacher is a patient at the Catholic hospital where Paul and Albert Kropp are temporarily stationed. He has an intimate knowledge of the workings of the hospital. He also has a "shooting license," certifying him as sporadically not responsible for his actions due to a head wound, though he is clearly quite sane and exploiting his license so he can stay in the hospital and away from the war as long as possible.

Franz Kemmerich

A young boy of only 19 years. Franz Kemmerich had enlisted in the army for World War I along with his best friend and classmate, Bäumer. Kemmerich is shot in the leg early in the story; his injured leg has to be amputated, and he dies shortly after. In anticipation of Kemmerich's imminent death, Müller was eager to get his boots. While in the hospital, someone steals Kemmerich's watch that he intended to give to his mother, causing him great distress and prompting him to ask about his watch every time his friends visit him in the hospital. Paul later finds the watch and hands it over to Kemmerich's mother, only to lie Franz died instantly and painlessly when questioned.

Joseph Behm

A student in Paul's class. Behm was the only student that was not quickly influenced by Kantorek's patriotism to join the war. Eventually, due to pressure from friends and Kantorek, he joins the war. He is the first of Paul's friends to die. He is blinded in no man's land and believed to be dead by his friends. The next day, when he is seen walking blindly around no-man's-land, it is discovered that he was only unconscious. However, he is killed before he can be rescued.

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