Alfred has been assigned to the ship’s sundeck, which has been converted into a maternity ward. He is informed that there is only a single doctor, and no nurses assigned to the ward. He complains, and a soldier pushes back that his work is not very hard. This soldier, who has an injured knee, is resentful that he’s not “at the front, Killing Russians,” but instead stuck on a ship with men like Alfred. This soldier also reveals to Alfred that while the ship only has the capacity to hold two thousand people, it will be carrying many more.
During Alfred’s chapters, he constantly suggests (or states directly) that the ship is unsuitable for its intended purpose. Although it is a passenger vessel it is not intended to carry as many people as it eventually will. This becomes more ominous if the reader considers the historical events on which the novel is based. The Wilhelm Gustloff famously did eventually sink off the coast of Prussia.