All Quiet on the Western Front Characters

Paul Baumer: Paul Baumer is the narrator of the novel. He is nineteen years old when the novel begins, and is a member of Second Company in the German Army. Before the war, Paul had literary interests, having writing some poetry and started writing a play. He had enjoyed studying and had a fine collection of books. But the carnage and horror of the war has effectively destroyed his former life and interests. He feels cut off from the past, and has no hope for the future. What enables him to get through the war for as long as he does is the comradeship he feels with his friends. That is all he has left. But one by one they are all killed. After his last friend, Kat, dies, there is nothing left for Paul to live for. He is killed in battle in October, 1918, a month before peace is declared.

Joseph Behm: Joseph Behm was one of Paul’s classmates. He was reluctant to enlist in the army, but he was persuaded to do so. He was killed early in the war.

Lieutenant Bertinck: Lieutenant Bertinck is the commander of Second Company. He is killed in battle near the end of the war, in the summer of 1918, having survived two years without being wounded. He dies a heroic death.

Detering: Detering is one of Paul’s group of friends. He is a peasant farmer who is fond of horses and says they should not be used in war. A man of few words, Detering keeps himself to himself. He is worried because he has had to leave his farm entirely in the hands of his wife. Detering eventually cracks under the pressure of his experiences on the front line. His desire to return to his farm becomes too great, and he deserts the army. He is caught and court-martialed.

Gerard Duval: Gerard Duval is a French soldier who is killed by Paul after he falls into a shell-hole where Paul is hiding. Duval was a printer by trade. He was married and had a daughter.

Ginger: Ginger is the cook for Paul’s company. He is not very popular because he refuses to bring his kitchen up near to the front line, so the food arrives cold and late.

Josef Hamacher: Josef Hamacher is a wounded soldier in the Catholic Hospital.

Corporal Himmelstoss: Corporal Himmelstoss is in charge of a platoon at the training camp which Paul and his friends attend. In civilian life he was a mailman, and in the army he is known for being a strict disciplinarian. He is petty-minded and likes having power over people. He takes a dislike to Paul and his friends because he senses that they are defiant, and he makes life difficult for them. They in turn dislike him, and on their last day of training, they ambush him and beat him up. Himmelstoss is later sent to the front, and his relations with his former trainees greatly improves.

Kantorek: Kantorek is the schoolmaster who talked his entire class, which included Paul, Albert Kropp, Miller, and Leer, into volunteering for army service. He told them it was their patriotic duty to enlist. Kantorek is eventually drafted into the Territorials, a kind of home guard unit, where his former student, Mittelstaedt, who commands the unit, gets his revenge by humiliating Kantorek on the training ground.

Stanislaus Katczinsky (“Kat”): Kat is one of Paul’s closest friends. At forty, he is older than the others. He is a shrewd and cunning man, and he has an uncanny sixth sense for where he can find food. He always manages to keep the company in supplies. By trade he is a cobbler, but he has a good understanding of many other trades. Physically, he has drooping shoulders. His voice is calm. Kat is killed in the terrible summer of 1918. First he is injured in the shin, and then he is caught by a splinter in the head as Paul carries him to the dressing-station.

Franz Kemmerich: Franz Kemmerich is a German soldier, one of Paul’s friends, who has a leg amputated and dies soon after.

Albert Kropp: Albert Kropp is one of Paul’s close friends. They are always together. Kropp has a clear mind, and he is the first of their group to become a lance-corporal. Kropp is injured in battle, and he and Paul are sent to a military hospital. He has his leg amputated and he is sent home.

Leer: Leer is one of Paul’s classmates who joins the army. Unlike the others, he has had prior experience with women, and he makes a big impression on the blond French girl when the men sneak off during the night to the house of the French women. He also likes to frequent officers’ brothels. Leer has a full beard, which makes him look much older than he really is. He sustains a fatal wound in the hip toward the end of the war.

Mueller: Mueller is one of Paul’s classmates. He is academically minded, and still carries his school textbooks around with him and dreams of examinations. He is described as having protruding teeth and a booming laugh.¬†Mueller is killed near the end of the war after being shot in the stomach. He dies in great pain.

Tjaden: Tjaden is one of Paul’s friends in Second Company. He is thin, even though he has the biggest appetite of all the men. In civilian life he was trained as a locksmith. Tjaden holds a grudge against Himmelstoss and welcomes the chance to get revenge on him.

Haie Westhus: Haie Westhus is a member of Paul’s circle of friends in Second Company. In civilian life he was a peat-digger, a job he liked so little he prefers being in the army. Haie says he would reenlist in the army after the war if he had the opportunity. But he never gets that opportunity. He is killed in battle.