Paul despises Corporal Himmelstoss, who had "the reputation of being the strictest disciplinarian in the camp, and was proud of it". In Paul's words, Himmelstoss was a "small undersized fellow" who had "a special dislike" of Paul and his friends because from them he sensed "a quiet defiance".
The Corporal took complete advantage of his position of power, tormenting the men under his command in an effort to break them. Paul recalls having "remade his bed fourteen times in one morning...each time (Himmelstoss) had some fault to find and pulled it to pieces". He also remembers being ordered to scrub out the Corporals' Mess with a tooth-brush and clear the barrack-square of snow with a hand-broom and a dust-pan. On occasion, higher officers recognized Himmelstoss's abuse of his position and reprimanded him, but Paul says "the only result of this was to make Himmelstoss hate (them) more". At bayonet practice, Paul would have to "constantly...fight with Himmelstoss...with a heavy iron weapon", while the Corporal himself used "a handy wooden one with which he easily struck (Paul's) arms till they were black and blue". Pushed to the limit, Paul once became so infuriated that he "ran at him blindly and gave him a mighty jab in the stomach and knocked him down". When Himmelstoss reported him, his superiors, knowing the situation, laughed at the Corporal and told him he ought to be more watchful (Chapter 2).