Albert Kropp in All Quiet on the Western Front

Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

Albert Kropp is one of the closest friends of Paul Baumer, the main character and narrator in Erich Maria Remarque's 'All Quiet on the Western Front.' He is present for many of the major events in the novel and provides a voice for many of its most important themes.

Galvanized Friendship

In Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Albert Kropp was one of the boys--together with Paul Baumer and the rest of their class--persuaded to enlist in the army directly from school. Their school master Kantorek was primarily responsible for this mass enlistment. Paul and Albert were in the same platoon under the infamous Corporal Himmelstoss, who took a special dislike to the boys. Together they endured torment and mistreatment of all kinds at the hands of Himmelstoss. This time was grueling for them both, but it helped them to develop 'a strong, practical sense of esprit de corps, which in the field developed into the finest thing that arose out of the war--comradeship.'

Albert's Strong Will

From the beginning, we see that Albert has pluck. After enduring many injustices at the hands of Corporal Himmelstoss, Albert and Paul take a stand against him. When Himmelstoss assigns them to latrine duty and then blocks their way while they are carrying the full buckets, Paul and Albert 'trip' and 'accidentally' spill the buckets of slop over the Corporal's legs. Himmelstoss threatens them with clink, meaning military prison, but Albert retorts 'There'll be an inquiry first...and then we'll unload.' Albert stands his ground against further threats, insisting that if Himmelstoss tries to report them, they will report Himmelstoss's chronic mistreatment of them. They win a victory here. Himmelstoss backs down.

Albert's Sense of Injustice

In addition to his intolerance for Himmelstoss's mistreatment, we see Albert's disdain for injustice expressed while his friend Kemmerich lies dying in the dressing station. Kemmerich is in terrible pain. He is left alone in a bed, and the orderlies check on him only to see if he is dead yet. They hover like vultures, waiting to be allowed to move him in order to have another bed free.

Albert sees his friend's suffering and asks the orderlies to give him some morphine. The orderly refuses. 'You only attend to officers properly,' Kropp says, 'viciously.' Paul bribes the orderly with cigarettes, and eventually he administers the morphine. Afterward, Kropp gives vent to his frustration over this ill treatment. With his face looking 'broken and distracted,' he cries out 'damned shit, the damned shit!'

A Good Friend

Throughout the novel, Albert proves himself a good friend in other ways, too. Kropp is one of the two people in whom Paul confides after he stabs a man to death in a shell hole. Kropp offers Paul comfort, telling him, 'you don't need to lose any sleep over your affair,' encouraging him to see it as just a part of war. In another--lighter--act of friendship, Albert helps Paul get over the difficulty of finding a way to tell the pretty young nurse that he needed to use the bathroom. 'Sister, he wants...he wants to leave the room, sister.' That's true friendship right there!

Broken Down by the War

Despite all of Albert's strength and goodness, the war takes its toll on him just as it does on the other men. As some of the soldiers are discussing daydreams of what one might do after the war ends, Albert says wearily 'I don't want to do anything...you'll be dead one day, so what does it matter? I don't think we'll ever go back.' He has no hope for life after the war. He has come to a point where he believes either the war will never end or he will not survive it. He goes on to say 'The war has ruined us for everything.' Even if the war does end and he does survive it, he can see that he will be forever damaged by all he has endured there.

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