A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945 by Vasily Grossman

By Vasily Grossman

Paperback e-book. background. crimson military

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Grossman, who had been in Stalingrad far longer than any other correspondent, felt betrayed by this decision. Ortenberg sent him nearly three hundred kilometres south of Stalingrad down into Kalmykia, which had just been liberated from German occupation. This in fact gave Grossman the opportunity to study the region before Lavrenty Beria’s battalions of NKVD security police moved in to take revenge by massive deportations of the less than loyal population. His notes on the German occupation and on the degrees of collaboration with the enemy are poignant and brilliantly revealing of the compromises and temptations which faced civilians caught up in an international civil war.

They represent by far the best eyewitness account of the terrible Eastern Front, perhaps the finest descriptions ever of what Grossman himself called ‘the ruthless truth of war’. A page from one of Grossman’s many notebooks. 1 Field Marshal Hermann von Eichhorn (1848–1918). Following the harsh terms exacted by the Germans in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Eichhorn’s task in 1918 was to supervise the stripping of the Ukraine to feed German cities starving from the British blockade. This policy was naturally hated by the Ukrainians and Eichhorn was assassinated in July.

I weighed myself in the banya, and it turned out I am only seventy-four kilos, and do you remember my terrible weight a year ago – ninety-one? My heart is much better . . ’ Grossman studied everything military: tactics, equipment, weaponry – and army slang which fascinated him especially. He worked so hard on his notes and articles that he had little time for anything else. ’ Above all, he demonstrated extraordinary bravery right at the front, when most war correpondents hung around headquarters.

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