Study Guide

Albert Kropp in All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque

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Albert Kropp

Kropp Til You Drop

Albert Kropp is the resident philosopher of Paul's company.  This guy is a thinker, and he asks some of the biggest questions in this novel.

Here are a couple of Kropp's musings:

"But what I like to know," says Albert, "is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No. […] Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No." (9.31-33)

"It's queer, when one thinks about it," goes on Kropp, "we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who's in the right?" (9.35)

Dang, Kropp. Those are the kind of ideas that ethics and political science professors mull over.

Kropp even goes so far as to say that war should be like a warped WWF match:

He proposes that a declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bull fight. Then in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in bathing-drawers and armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins. That would be much simpler and more just than this arrangement, where the wrong people do the fighting. (3.42)

He's also the first to notice the unjust hierarchy: at Kemmerich's hospital intervention, he points out how the nurses and attendants quickly respond to officers' pain, but are slow to take care of enlisted men. Kropp bonded with Paul under Himmelstoss's boot camp regime, scrubbing the Mess with a toothbrush, hand-shoveling snow, standing at attention for hours. And Kropp had cojones—when Himmelstoss walks beneath him and Paul, who are carrying a large bucket from the toilets, he "slips" and dumps it on him. The guy has no fear of authority. 

Kropp's fate is uncertain. His leg is severely wounded, and he tells Paul that he's rather commit suicide than go through life as an amputee. After spending a long time in the military hospital, his leg is cut off and he becomes withdraw and blank. Paul and Kropp say goodbye to one another, and, while Kropp is finally released from the spectacle of war, we don't know if he survives long enough to enjoy peacetime.

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