Like Katczinsky, Kropp is a close friend of Paul’s who offers different perspectives on the subject of war. While Kat has years of experience under his belt, the younger Kropp showcases his own evolving philosophy by posing questions about the structure of the army, and the emptiness inherent within it. It’s easy to imagine the kind of person Kropp would be outside of the military; his actions against Himmelstoss suggest he’s someone who is willing to lash out against authority and stand up for what he believes in. It’s ironic that such traits are precisely what military commanders wouldn’t want in a soldier.
Kropp’s fate offers a different, albeit equally chilling, possible outcome of being a soldier at war. The amputation of his leg prompts a shift in his personality, and his prediction in Chapter 5—“The war has ruined us for everything”—comes true. He is a shell of the person he once was, suicidal and broken by what he has seen and endured. Ultimately what becomes of Kropp is unknown, but while readers are spared yet another devastating loss, it’s clear Kropp is traumatized, suggesting that dying isn’t the only way to lose one’s life and that surviving the war may not be much better than dying.