How was Himmelstoss received when he arrived at the front?

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Himmelstoss is not well-received upon coming to the front in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Prior to his arrival, Himmelstoss had been a severe and exacting leader while he was the men's training commander. Paul reflects that he may have helped them to learn some things, but those lessons were a response to his cruelty, not an intentional lesson.

Upon arriving, Himmelstoss is revealed to be a coward and shirks many of his duties and responsibilities, particularly the ones that would be more dangerous. He is beaten up by Paul when he pretends to be wounded to get out of an assignment, and he is mocked and derided for his cowardice, before eventually maturing and learning that he does, in fact, need to step up and take action.

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Himmelstoss is portrayed as a cruel martinet, a parade ground soldier who is abusive to the young men during their training. When he arrives at the front, however, Paul observes that he quickly discovers that "the front line isn't a parade ground." The soldiers, especially Tjaden, greet him with hostility. Tjaden calls him a "dirty hound" and refuses to treat him with the respect to which Himmelstoss feels entitled. The impossibly arrogant Himmelstoss storms off to report Tjaden to his superiors as the soldiers laugh. Tjaden receives only a few day's arrest and a "long sermon," and Himmelstoss is rebuked by the officers, who remind him that he is not on the parade ground anymore. Later, Paul encounters Himmelstoss cowering in a foxhole during an attack.

Source: Erich-Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (New York: Ballentine Books, 1982) 80-91.

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