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Kantorek is the schoolmaster whose inflammatory speech stirred such patriotism in his students that all (but one) joyfully volunteer to fight "for the Fatherland." Kantorek is a small man with a big voice whose, "Won't you join up, Comrades" persuades the boys (for they weren't men yet) that war is a noble cause.
Paul sees the irony in Kantorek's words (since Kantoreck himself did not volunteer to serve), but philosophically observes:
There were thousands of Kantoreks, all of whom were convinced that they were acting for the best--in a way that cost them nothing.
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