Is it possible that Himmelstoss purposely employed his methods to "toughen up" the recruits and inspire esprit de corps in All Quiet?
Sure, it is possible that Himmelstoss was really harsh on the men so that he could inspire a sense of brotherhood in them. One could argue that Himmelstoss wanted the men to learn how to rely on one another in times of hardship. But the novel does not really lend itself to this interpretation. For example, the activities that Himmelstoss made the men complete were largely individual tasks that had nothing to do with seeing another man out of a difficult situation. Further, the men do not respect Himmelstoss because he himself has never fought on the front line. Because of this, Himmelstoss would arguably have a difficult time relating to the realities that the men face on the actual battle field. The tone with which Himmelstoss addresses the men has no ring of "brotherhood" to it; and as a result, Himmelstoss comes across more as a man who revels in the power that he has over the recruits than he does as one who truly wishes to inspire "esprit de corps."