In a novel about war, you'd expect to see the evil which takes many forms. An enemy soldier, a betrayer, bomb, even death itself, or a rat inside the group of friends. But you can’t think of the one person, profession, that could take a form of evil – a schoolteacher. And Kantorek is the one: he is a false patriot with no military experience. He continues telling his young students that they should enlist and go off and fight in the war. He makes huge propaganda about the German Fatherland and the glory of service and his students, who are all bright-eyed and eager, lap up his every word.
Kantorek in the Essays