Vasily Grossman (1905-64) served for over 1,000 days with the Red Army as a war correspondent on the Eastern Front.
He was present during the street-fighting of Stalingrad, and his 1944 report ‘The Hell of Treblinka’ was the first eyewitness account of a Nazi death camp.
Though he finished the war as a decorated lieutenant colonel in Berlin, his epic novel of the battle of Stalingrad, Life and Fate, was suppressed by the Soviet authorities and never published in his lifetime. Declared a ‘non person’, Grossman died in obscurity.
Only in 1980, with its posthumous publication in Switzerland, did his masterpiece gain an international reputation.
The Garrards’ meticulously researched biography is the first account of his life to make use of unpublished archival sources that only became available after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Born a Russian Jew and an ardent patriot of the Motherland, as a combat correspondent for Red Star, the Red Army’s newspaper, Grossman served at the front from the retreat to the gates of Moscow to the blood-soaked capture of Berlin.
It was not until he discovered the massacre of 30,000 Jews – including his own mother – in his hometown of Berdichev, Ukraine, that he confronted his Jewishness and the shock of the Holocaust.
Determined to tell the story of Soviet complicity with the Germans in the extermination of Russian Jewry, Grossman was labeled an enemy of the state by both Stalin and Khrushchev. In his own words, he was ‘buried alive.’
This vivid portrait of Grossman’s life in a totalitarian, anti-Semitic state, using evidence Grossman knew but could not publish, gives chilling support to the writer’s conclusion in Life and Fate that the Nazi and Soviet states were mirror images of each other.
Click here >> The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman