All Quiet on the Western Front

What role did the mailman (Himmelstoss) have?

was he really mean to the recruits? Give an example

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Himmelstoss is representative of how people's lives can change as a result of war. Prior to serving in the war, Himmelstos, a mailman, would have been considered of little importance. He had a job, he went about his business, and he likely spent his free time uch as we do. With the advent of the war, Himmelstoss became a part of something bigger.... he was promoted, given a postion of power. Power changed him.... and he became a cruel taskmaster.

He had the reputation of being the strictest disciplinarian in the camp, and was proud of it. He was a small undersized fellow with a foxy, waxed moustache, who had seen twelve years' service and was in civil life a postman. He had a special dislike of Kropp, Tjaden, Westhus, and me, because he sensed a quiet defiance.

But the only result of this was to make Himmelstoss hate us more. For six weeks consecutively I did guard every Sunday and was hut-orderly for the same length of time. With full pack and rifle I have had to practise on a wet, soft, newly-ploughed field the "Prepare to advance, advance!" and the "Lie down!" until I was one lump of mud and finally collapsed. Four hours later I had to report to Himmelstoss with my clothes scrubbed clean, my hands chafed and bleeding. Together with Kropp, Westhus, and Tjaden I have stood at attention in a hard frost without gloves for a quarter of an hour at a stretch, while Himmelstoss watched for the slightest movement of our bare fingers on the steel barrel of the rifle. I have run eight times from the top floor of the barracks down to the courtyard in my shirt at two o'clock in the morning because my drawers projected three inches beyond the edge of the stool on which one had to stack all one's things.

Source(s)

All Quiet on the Western Front