There are many tragedies in war but one of the worst is that people with power in wartime situations abuse their power. People who abuse their power demonstrate a central theme in All Quiet on the Western Front because there are several characters that show these traits. Himmelstoss is an excellent example of this and so is the foolish doctor who operates on mens feet. Lastly, Middelstadt is also a valid example because he abused his power by playing around with Kantorek for his own amusement and pleasure.
Corporal Himmelstoss abused his power by forcing Paul and his friends to continually do pointless drills. These drills were not teaching discipline, Himmelstoss made the boys do such physically intense drills because he simply disliked them. For example,, Himmelstoess finds out that Tjaden has a bed wetting problem and decides to fix it. He makes Tjaden bunk with another solider, Kindervater, who also wets his bed. Because of the soldiers bad habits, the person who slept on the bottom bunk would wake up in the morning covered in the others pee, which became extremely unhealthy. Himmelstoss used his power to humiliate these boys.
Another person who abused his power in wartime was the doctor at Paul and Alberts hospital. He abused his position to perform extremely debatable operations on patients that had little say in their own health. He crippled many patients in his search to find a cure for people with flat feet. The doctor abused his power as a doctor by harming his patients more than helping them; which is not the duty of a doctor.
The third and final character that abused his power was Middelstadt. His job was to train the militiamen. Middelstadt used to be a student of Kantorek and Kantorek was the man who convinced Middelstadt to join the army through his many lies. Middelstadt was put in charge to train Kantorek and completely abused his power by forcing Kantorek to run more than anyone. Middelstadt also made Kantorek wear a uniform that was not even close to fitting him properly. While it may seem like a payback, or comical, Middelstadt abused his power of training the men.
In conclusion, wartime situations allow people to abuse their power over others while they do not gain anything from it. Himmelstoss, the crazy doctor, and Middelstadt are very good examples of people abusing their power while wasting a lot of their long-term potential.