By Vasily Grossman
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Extra resources for A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945
We have strived to keep all explanations to the linking passages and to footnotes, but occasionally words have been added in square brackets to aid comprehension. Glossary Front, when written with a capital letter refers to the Soviet equivalent of an army group, for example, Central Front, Western Front or Stalingrad Front. A Front was commanded by a colonel general or marshal later in the war and usually consisted of between four and eight armies. Frontoviki, is the Red Army term for soldiers with real experience of fighting at the front.
It was followed by Stepan Kolchugin. Although both novels followed the Stalinist dictates of the time, the characters were entirely convincing. 4 Grossman, whose literary heroes were Chekhov and Tolstoy, was never likely to be a Stalinist hack, even though he was initially convinced that only Soviet communism could stand up to the threat of fascism and anti-Semitism. In March 1933, Grossman’s cousin and loyal supporter, Nadezhda Almaz, was arrested for Trotskyism. Grossman was interrogated by the OGPU secret police (which became the NKVD in the following year).
This relationship produced a daughter in January 1930. They called her Ekaterina, or Katya, after Grossman’s mother. 2 Parents crazed by hunger ate their own children. It was the epitome of what Osip Mandelstam described in a memorable poem as ‘the wolfhound century’. If Grossman did not witness the worst horrors of the famine, he certainly heard of them or saw the results, as skeletal figures begged beside railway tracks in the hope of a generous traveller throwing them a crust. He described this Ukrainian famine in his last novel, Forever Flowing, including the execution of a woman accused of eating her two children.
A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945 by Vasily Grossman