6+ quotes from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army by Vasily Grossman

Quotes from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army

Vasily Grossman ·  496 pages

Rating: (2.3K votes)


“We leafed through a series of the [1941 Soviet] Front newspaper. I came across the following phrase in a leading article: 'The much-battered enemy continued his cowardly advance.”
― Vasily Grossman, quote from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army


“No one could understand; nor could she explain it herself. This senseless kindness is condemned in the fable about the pilgrim who warmed a snake in his boson. It is the kindness that has mercy on a tarantula that has bitten a child. A mad, blind kindness. People enjoy looking in stories and fables for examples of the danger of this kind of senseless kindness. But one shouldn't be afraid of it. One might just as well be afraid of a freshwater fish carried out by chance into the salty ocean. The harm from time to time occasioned a society, class, race or State by this senseless kindness fades away in the light that emanates from those who are endowed with it. This kindness, this stupid kindness, is what is most truly human in a human being. It is what sets man apart, the highest achievement of his soul. No it says, life is not evil.”
― Vasily Grossman, quote from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army


“Grossman, perhaps tiring slightly of journalism, seems to have longed to convey his thoughts and feelings about the war in fictional form. At this stage, when the Soviet Union was fighting for its life, his ideas were very close to that of the Party line. It was only at Stalingrad, a year later, that his view of the Stalinist regime began to change. This outline, may well have formed part of the idea for The People Immortal, his novel written and published the following year...”
― Vasily Grossman, quote from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army


“At war a Russian man puts on a white shirt. He may live in sin, but he dies like a saint.”
― Vasily Grossman, quote from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army


“It was then that he started his novel The People Immortal, and when I read it later, many of its pages seemed to me very familiar. He found himself as a writer during the war. His pre-war books were nothing more than searching for his theme and language. He was a true internationalist and reproached me frequently for saying “Germans” instead of “Hitler’s men” when describing the atrocities of the occupiers.’ Ehrenburg was persuaded that it was Grossman’s all-embracing world view which made the xenophobic Stalin hate him.”
― Vasily Grossman, quote from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army


“Edinolochniks [individual peasant farmers] are whitewashing their khatas [simple Ukrainian houses]. They look at us with a challenge in their eyes: ‘It’s Easter.’ The implication behind this strange remark in autumn was the hint that they were celebrating the arrival of the most joyful moment of the year. Some historians have suggested that the Germans, with black crosses on their vehicles, were seen as bringing Christian liberation to a population oppressed by Soviet atheism. Many Ukrainians did welcome the Germans with bread and salt, and many Ukrainian girls consorted cheerfully with German soldiers. It is hard to gauge the scale of this phenomenon in statistical terms, but it is significant that the Abwehr, the Germany Army intelligence department, recommended that an army of a million Ukrainians should be raised to fight the Red Army. This was firmly rejected by Hitler who was horrified at the suggestion of Slavs fighting in Wehrmacht uniform.”
― Vasily Grossman, quote from A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army


About the author

Vasily Grossman
Born place: in Berdychiv, former Russian Empire, Ukraine
Born date December 12, 1905
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