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Kropp, Muller, Leer, Kemmerich, and Behm are Baumer's classmates who join the infantry with him; Katczinsky, Tjaden, and Detering are friends that he makes in the military. During the war, Baumer was completely dependent on these friends for emotional support, considering them to be his lifeline. During the course of the novel, they are killed one by one; with the loss of each of them, Baumer loses a bit of himself as well.
"Kat," aged forty, is a cobbler by profession; during the war, he becomes Baumer's best friend. Instead of separating them, their differences in age, experience, background, and personality unite the two soldiers. Kat is a warm, friendly, and good-natured being; he is also a clever and resourceful man, always coming up with extra food and supplies that he gladly shares with Baumer and his friends. When Kat is injured at the end of the novel and dies while Baumer is carrying him to a medical station for help, it is a devastating blow; Baumer has lost his best friend and last thread of security.
Tjaden, formerly a locksmith, is a thin nineteen-year-old soldier with a voracious appetite. Throughout the novel, he is worried about what he can eat. He once gets into a fight with Ginger, the Company cook, because he is not willing to serve the soldiers all the food that has been prepared. Although Tjaden did not go to school with Baumer, Muller, and the others, he fits into their group easily and quickly.
Muller is one of Baumer's former classmates who joins the infantry because of Kantorek, the teacher. He had been a very good student and misses school greatly. He often carries books with him and sometimes dreams about examinations. Always practical and logical, he lacks Baumer's humanity or sensitivity. When Kemmerich has his leg amputated, Muller, with logic, asks for his leather boots, since he no longer has use for a matched pair; Muller is also worried that the fine boots will be stolen by one of the orderlies in the hospital. After Kemmerich dies, Muller is the first soldier to wear the boots. When Muller is later killed, the boots pass on to Baumer.
Kropp is another of Baumer's former classmates, known for being a thinker and planner. His solution for ending the war is to put all of the generals from both sides into an arena together, to arm them with clubs, and to let them fight it out until there is a winner; then the ordinary soldier would be spared from the death and destruction of the real war. Kropp is the only one of the classmates that is not killed during the novel. While evacuating a village, he and Baumer are both injured. Kropp has to have his leg amputated; after the surgery, he is discharged from the military and sent home.
In high school, Kantorek is a beloved teacher placed on a pedestal by his students. His word is like the gospel truth for them. When he glorifies war and defends the German cause in the fighting, Baumer and his friends believe Kantorek. When he tells the students they should enlist to serve the fatherland, they obey. When the classmates experience the realities of the war, they feel betrayed by their teacher. They even hold him responsible for the death of Behm, the first of the classmates to be killed in the war.
The ex-students are enraged by the propagandist letter that they receive from Kantorek during the course of the war. They are delighted when they later find out that Kantorek has become an ordinary soldier in a unit commanded by his former student, Mittelstaedt. Mittelstaedt delights in tormenting and traumatizing him, making him do all the menial work.