Joachim von Pasenow
Joachim von Pasenow (yoh-AH-khihm fon PAH-zeh-noh), a young German lieutenant who feels comfortable only in a uniform. He has odd ideas about his wife as a kind of madonna. By the end of World War I, he has become a major in the German army.
Bertrand, Joachim’s friend. He leaves the army to become a businessman. He becomes Esch’s enemy. He hires agents to provoke Martin, the Socialist, into trouble with the authorities.
Herr von Pasenow
Herr von Pasenow, Joachim’s father, a funny, fat old man who embarrasses his son. He wants Joachim to marry Elisabeth and retire from the army to manage the family estates.
Ruzena (rew-ZEH-nah), a sensitive Bohemian girl who becomes Joachim von Pasenow’s mistress. She shoots Bertrand, wounding him in the arm, when she thinks he is coming between her and her lover.
Elisabeth, Joachim von Pasenow’s wife.
Martin, a Socialist. Bertrand has him harassed by the police and by hired baiters.
Esch (ehsh), a German bookkeeper who becomes a theatrical manager and, later, a newspaperman. During a workers’ revolt in 1918, he is murdered by Huguenau, who stabs him with a bayonet.
Frau Hentjen (HEHNT-yehn), a restaurant keeper. She becomes Esch’s mistress and, later, his wife. She is raped by Huguenau shortly before he murders her husband.
Helmuth von Pasenow
Helmuth von Pasenow (HEHL-mewt), Joachim’s brother, killed in a duel.
Korn, a customs inspector. He is Esch’s friend and landlord.
Lohberg, a tobacconist and Esch’s friend.
Erna Korn, the customs inspector’s sister, desperate to be married.
Teltscher (TEHLT-shehr), a Hungarian knife thrower.
Ilona (ee-LOH-nah), a flashy blonde. She is Teltscher’s human target in his act.
Gernerth (GEHR-nehrt), a theatrical manager who becomes Esch’s partner.
Huguenau (HEW-geh-now), an Alsatian businessman who looks after himself and takes what he wants.
Marie, a Salvation Army girl attracted to a Talmudic Jew.
Hanna, a lawyer’s wife.