A postman in civilian life, Corporal Himmelstoss abuses young recruits in his wartime role as a trainer at boot camp. He was particularly cruel to Tjaden, a bedwetter, whom Himmelstoss made share a bed with another bedwetter, Kindervater. Kat theorizes that ordinary men like Himmelstoss come to be so cruel because all men have something cruel and barbaric in them, and this dark inner nature is released by the rigid power hierarchy of the military. Himmelstoss, however, is a dynamic character: after he is moved to a combat position at the front and experiences the horrors of trench warfare, he softens up and tries to make amends with the men he had terrorized at boot camp. In another wrinkle of complexity, Paul wonders if the cruel treatment Himmelstoss doled out actually made them better able to survive the war.
Corporal Himmelstoss Quotes in All Quiet on the Western Front
The All Quiet on the Western Front quotes below are all either spoken by Corporal Himmelstoss or refer to Corporal Himmelstoss. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:).
Chapter 2 Quotes
Had we gone into the trenches without this period of training most of us would certainly have gone mad. Only thus were we prepared for what awaited us. We did not break down, but adapted ourselves; our twenty years, which made many another thing so grievous, helped us in this. But by far the most important result was that it awakened in us a strong, practical sense of esprit de corps, which in the ﬁeld developed into the ﬁnest thing that arose out of the war—comradeship.
Related Characters: Paul Bäumer (speaker), Corporal Himmelstoss
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Corporal Himmelstoss Character Timeline in All Quiet on the Western Front
The timeline below shows where the character Corporal Himmelstoss appears in All Quiet on the Western Front. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...He and his former classmates Kropp, Müller, and Kemmerich trained under the command of Corporal Himmelstoss, who forced them to do humiliating chores and endure rough punishments. Though the soldiers hated... (full context)
...experiences as new recruits in the training camp. Kropp reminds them of their training corporal Himmelstoss’s favorite drill, which required the men to repeatedly practice how they would change trains at... (full context)
...grudgingly hands over the last beer to the victorious Kat. Paul is still thinking about Himmelstoss, who was a postman before the war began. When Paul wonders aloud how the man... (full context)
Suddenly, Tjaden runs up to the men with an announcement: Himmelstoss has been sent to serve on the front. Though none of the men like Himmelstoss,... (full context)
Paul recalls how the men had finally gotten back at Himelstoss after weeks of plotting. One night, they snuck up on him as he walked back... (full context)
...around the tin to pick off lice and gossip. Word in the camp is that Himmelstoss, their much-hated former training corporal, has just arrived at the front. Tjaden, who has a... (full context)
...have had. Tjaden, when asked what he’d do in peacetime, describes his fantasy of beating Himmelstoss to a pulp. Detering answers that he would simply go on with the harvest. (full context)
Himmelstoss appears at the camp and awkwardly approaches the group of men. He is met with... (full context)
Himmelstoss and a fat sergeant-major look for Tjaden to discipline him. He receives three days of... (full context)
...and Paul notices that their faces have the expressionlessness of dead children. Paul comes across Himmelstoss cowering in a trench, pretending to be injured. He yells at Himmelstoss, but the officer... (full context)
...reorganize and accommodate more than 100 reinforcements. As the men relax during their time off, Himmelstoss, shaken by his time in the trenches, approaches the group and tries to make amends.... (full context)