All Quiet on the Western Front

Main characters

Paul Bäumer

The main character and central figure of the novel.

Albert Kropp

Kropp is in Paul's class at school and is described as the clearest thinker of the group as well as the smallest. Kropp is wounded towards the end of the novel and undergoes a leg amputation. Both he and Bäumer end up spending time in a Catholic hospital together, Bäumer suffering from shrapnel wounds to the leg and arm. Although Kropp initially plans to commit suicide if he requires an amputation, he postponed suicide because of the strength of military camaraderie and a lack of a revolver. Kropp and Bäumer part ways when Bäumer is recalled to his regiment after recovering. Paul comments that saying farewell was "very hard, but it is something a soldier learns to deal with."[4]

Haie Westhus

Haie is tall and strong with a good sense of humor, and a peat-digger by profession. His size and behavior make him seem older than Paul, yet he is the same age as Paul and his school-friends, who are roughly 19 at the start of the book. During combat, he is fatally injured in his back (Chapter 6)—the resulting wound is large enough for Paul to see Haie's breathing lung while Himmelstoß (Himmelstoss) carries him to safety. He later dies of this injury.

Friedrich Müller

Müller is one of Bäumer's classmates, and is 19 when he also volunteers to join the German army. Carrying his old school books with him to the battlefield, he constantly reminds himself of the importance of learning and education. Even while under enemy fire, he "mutters propositions in physics." He takes a liking to Kemmerich's boots and inherits them when Kemmerich dies early in the novel. He is killed later after being shot point-blank in the stomach with a "light pistol" (flare gun). As he was dying "quite conscious and in terrible pain", he gave his boots which he inherited from Kemmerich to Paul.

Stanislaus "Kat" Katczinsky

Katczinsky, a recalled reserve militiaman, was a cobbler in civilian life. He is older than Paul Bäumer and his comrades, about 40 years old, and serves as their leadership figure. He also represents a literary model highlighting the differences between the younger and older soldiers. While the older men have already had a life of professional and personal experience before the war, Paul and the men of his age have had little life experience or time for personal growth.

Kat is well known for his ability to scavenge nearly any item needed, especially food. At one point he secures four boxes of lobster. Paul describes Kat as possessing a sixth sense. One night, Paul along with a group of other soldiers are held up in a factory with neither rations nor comfortable bedding. Katczinsky leaves for a short while, returning with straw to put over the bare wires of the beds. Later, to feed the hungry men, Kat brings bread, a bag of horse flesh, a lump of fat, a pinch of salt and a pan in which to cook the food.

Kat is hit by shrapnel near the end of the story, leaving him with a smashed shin. Paul carries him back to camp on his back, only to discover upon their arrival that a stray splinter had hit Kat in the back of the head and killed him on the way. He is thus the last of Paul's close friends to die in battle. It is Kat's death that eventually makes Bäumer indifferent as to whether he survives the war or not, yet certain that he can face the rest of his life without fear. "Let the months and the years come, they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more. I am so alone, and so without hope that I can confront them without fear."


One of Bäumer's non-schoolmate friends. Before the war, Tjaden was a locksmith. A big eater with a grudge against the former postman-turned-corporal Himmelstoß (thanks to his strict "disciplinary actions"), he manages to forgive Himmelstoß later in the book. Throughout the book, Paul frequently remarks on how much of an eater he is, yet somehow manages to stay as "thin as a rake". He appears in the sequel, The Road Back.

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