A Writer at War: A Soviet Journalist with the Red Army, 1941-1945

A Writer at War: A Soviet Journalist with the Red Army, 1941-1945

Vasily Grossman

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0307275337

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


When the Germans invaded Russia in 1941, Vasily Grossman became a special correspondent for the Red Star, the Soviet Army's newspaper, and reported from the frontlines of the war. A Writer at War depicts in vivid detail the crushing conditions on the Eastern Front, and the lives and deaths of soldiers and civilians alike. Witnessing some of the most savage fighting of the war, Grossman saw firsthand the repeated early defeats of the Red Army, the brutal street fighting in Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk (the largest tank engagement in history), the defense of Moscow, the battles in Ukraine, the atrocities at Treblinka, and much more.

Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova have taken Grossman's raw notebooks, and fashioned them into a gripping narrative providing one of the most even-handed descriptions --at once unflinching and sensitive -- we have ever had of what Grossman called “the ruthless truth of war.”

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was the only one to survive. He forced forty captured Germans, threatening them with his sub-machine gun, to manhandle the howitzer, and fired point-blank. Grossman had great admiration for General Batov, the commander of the 65th Army, who had been ordered by Rokossovsky to head west for Warsaw. Batov is not prone to Russian optimism. Routine is harmful even in victorious actions. And like the best commanders at Stalingrad, such as Gurtiev who had made his men dig trenches, then ‘steamed’

Znamya under the title ‘The Hell Called Treblinka’. It was quoted later at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. Thrift, thoroughness and pedantic cleanliness – all these are good qualities typical of many Germans. They prove effective when applied in agriculture and industry. But Hitler has put these qualities of the German character to work committing crimes against humanity. In the labour camps in Poland, the SS acted as if it was all about growing cauliflowers or potatoes.

wounded me, and I killed him. He sprang out, and I thought I wanted to take him alive. “Halt!” He fired a burst at me and wounded me in the hand. I took aim, he fell. A woman brought out an earthenware pot of milk for me. I used up my bandage on a wounded boy. I bandaged his shoulder. ‘Never run back under mortar fire. If you go back, that’ll be the end of you! When [the enemy] fires [at you] with a machine gun, he isn’t very accurate either. You can lie down and then run to another place. When

notebooks, together with some articles and extracts from letters, show not just a great writer’s raw materials. 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

offensives. German soldiers called the worst climatic conditions ‘weather for Russians’ for that very reason. Grossman, unaware of any plans, wrote to his father on 13 November, just under a week before the great attack. I work a lot, the work is stressful, and I am pretty tired. I have never been to such a hot spot as this one. Letters don’t reach me here, only once they brought me a whole bundle of letters, among them was a letter and a postcard from you … It is quite frosty here now, and

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