The death of Kemmerich early in the book is probably the loss that affects Paul the most. Kemmerich was wounded in the leg, which was later amputated. He hangs on for a while in the hospital, but finally dies. The author, Erich Maria Remarque, describes it thus:
We are by Kemmerich’s bed. He is dead. The face is still wet from the tears.
It was very difficult for Paul and the others from the unit to watch Kemmerich die, but the agony is extended for Paul when he goes home on leave. He has to go talk to Kemmerich’s mother. She wants to know how he died and whether or not he was in pain. She wants Paul to swear that he is telling her the truth. Paul says,
“May I never come back if he wasn’t killed instantaneously.” I would swear to anything. But she seems to believe me. She moans and weeps steadily. I have to tell how it happened, so I invent a story and I almost believe it myself.