A contemplative man, Albert, who curses Kemmerich’s ill fate, turns over in his mind the significance of his experiences and concludes that wars would be fair if warmongers met in a ring and fought like toreador and bull, using only clubs as weapons. In Chapter 5, as the men contemplate a return to civilian life, he labels them useless and assumes that they will probably all die in battle. Although he lacks the fire of Tjaden, the flexibility of Kat, and the wistful longing of Detering, he possesses enough spirit to aid Paul in humiliating Himmelstoss by spilling excrement on the drill instructor’s legs, thus ending the tyrannical martinet’s cruel torments. A cheerful humanist at heart, Kropp joins search parties who seek out the dying. For his efforts, he has his ear lobe shot off. When Paul leaves for six weeks, Albert accompanies him to the station to bid him good luck.
After being wounded above the knee, Albert vows that he will kill himself before living life without his leg, which is amputated at thigh level. Perhaps as object lesson, a musician who shares his ward tries to stab himself in the heart with a fork, driving in the tines with blows from his shoe. Eventually, Albert, grudging and tight-lipped, comes to accept his loss and takes part in the ward’s welcome of Marja Lewandowski. As an example of his physical and emotional healing, Albert has improved enough to baby-sit the Lewandowski child. Parted from Paul, Albert says little about the next phase of convalescence — learning to cope with an artificial leg.