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Franz Kemmerich

Character Analysis

Kemmerich is the first soldier who dies in intimate detail in the story. We first encounter him in the hospital, recuperating poorly. While unconscious, someone has stolen his watch. Paul knows Kemmerich will not survive and can see death working its way through his body. He complains of pain in his foot, not realizing that his leg has been amputated. Kemmerich has the most marvelous airmen's boots. The men want them for themselves in the battlefield. Kemmerich wants to take them home. The men show compassion in not telling him that, at most, he'll only need one.

Paul contemplates death through Kemmerich as if for the first time. He notices many little things, like the way orderlies quickly check on Kemmerich to see if he is dead yet, as they want his bed for other patients. Kemmerich cries as he dies. And then his bed is quickly, efficiently recycled.

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