Vasily Grossman

Vasily Grossman.jpg

I was just given by a colleague an announcement of a forthcoming volume to which I am eagerly looking forward. It’s A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman and the Red Army 1941-1945, a volume of the war time writings of Vasily Grossman, one of the most insightful of Soviet writers. His books Life and Fate and Forever Flowing are simply brilliant (and were never published in the USSR because of the clear comparison of Communism with National Socialism). He revealed Communism was revealed for what it really was, an organized system for the destruction of humanity. In Forever Flowing he memorably described the effects of collectivization and the terror famine on the peasants of Ukraine:

Some went insane. They never did become completely still. One could tell from their eyes–because their eyes shone. These were the people who cut up and cooked corpses, who killed their own children and ate them. In them the beast rose to the top as the human being died. I saw one. She had been brought to the district center under convoy. Her face was human, but her eyes were those of a wolf. These are cannibals, they said, and must all be shot. But they themselves, who drove the mother to the madness of eating her own children, are evidently not guilty at all! For that matter, can you really find anyone who is guilty? Just go and ask, and they will all tell you that they did it for the sake of virtue, for everybody’s good. That’s why they drove mothers to cannibalism.

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