Kantorek is the old schoolmaster of the young men who enlist. He represents The Establishment and spouts out propaganda of the Fatherland and of Germany to his students. His "crime," according to Paul, is that Kantorek was supposed to be trusted, a man intellectually above others, a teacher. And in German society, being a teacher in 1916 was a huge deal. So Kantorek's encouragement of the boys to voluntarily enlist in the army and fight a meaningless war makes him an ally of the dark villain of this novel: the War itself.