All Quiet on the Western Front Chapter 3
Replacements for the many dead men of Second Company come, and many are younger than Paul or his friends. Kropp calls them infants. Kat joins them as they, old veterans, go and inspect the new men. Kat asks one young man what he's had to eat lately, and the new boy complains of the food they've been eating. Kat mocks him and tells him that they often get bread made from sawdust. He offers the boy Haricot beans, which he has stashed in a tub. Paul and Kropp are amazed at Kat's stash of food, which he got from Ginger. He gives some to the boy, and tells him that the next time he wants some, he will have to give Kat some tobacco or a cigar in trade. Paul and Kropp, of course, get it for free.
Kat is a resourceful man. He's smart, experienced, and can get things out of nothing. Paul is happy that he and Kropp have him as a friend. One time, in unknown territory, Kat took Haie and found straw to sleep on. Since they were all very hungry, he asked an artilleryman about food. The man laughed at him, but Kat just went back out. The others didn't have a lot of hope, but Kat soon returned with two loaves of bread and a bag of horse meat. The artilleryman was amazed, but Kat didn't give him anything. Instead, the other men ate well and went to sleep happy.
"That is Kat. If for one hour in a year something eatable were to be had in some one place only, within that hour, as if moved by a vision, he would put on his cap, go out and walk directly there, as though following a compass, and find it." Chapter 3, pg. 40
The men sit out in the sun next to the hut. They have just finished practicing saluting for an hour because Tjaden didn't salute an officer properly. Kat says, "'You take it from me, we are losing the war because we can salute too well.'" Chapter 3, pg. 40 Kropp and Kat begin to argue about the war while laying a bet on an airfight overhead. Kat, with his experience, quotes a rhyme: "Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay/And the war would be over and done in a day." Chapter 3, pg. 41 Kropp, argues that war should be like a sports event: the generals should be given clubs and fight it out in an arena while the people watch. They drop the subject, and the men begin to reminisce about hot summers at the training barracks and drills they were forced to practice--a long way away from the front line. Overhead, the German airplane is shot down, and Kropp, the loser, gives Kat money for a beer. They talk about Himmelstoss and why he's so mean, and Kat tells them that human nature makes men like Himmelstoss desire power and abuse power. Only in the army are men free to abuse others and force them to do pointless things. Discipline is good to learn, but what they learned in training is pointless and everyone knows it.
As they talk about this, Tjaden rushes up with news: Himmelstoss, their hated Corporal, has been ordered to the front. Tjaden holds a grudge against Himmelstoss, because he was abused by him more than anyone else during training. Himmelstoss, angry at Tjaden for wetting the bed, forced him to sleep in a bunk under another bedwetter as punishment. They haven't seen him since the night before they left for the front, when they took revenge on him for his abuse. Paul, Haie, Kropp, and Tjaden waited for him one dark night when he was coming back from the pub, pulled a bed-cover over his head, pulled his pants down, and beat him with a whip. Haie punched him twice in the head, and the boys ran away. He never found out who attacked him. Now, Himmelstoss will be coming to the real war, where the boys know more than he does.