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“Stalingrad is the catastrophe of evil”

unpublished note by Vasily Grossman unveiled

Scholar Pietro Tosco discovered an unpublished note written by the author with a fountain pen and he published it on the magazine "La Nuova Europa" (“The New Europe”).

“I'm writing a book about Stalingrad. If I succeed in finishing the book, it will consist of three parts. In a year and a half I wrote the draft of the first part, now I've been working at the second one. The book editing works out little by little, and I can't say when I'm going to complete it, for the simple reason that I myself don't know this. Stalingrad is the catastrophe of evil in the world".

"The victory of Stalingrad isn't a miracle, nor is it a fortunate coincidence. Stalingrad complies with a great law in the flow of history. The victory in Stalingrad is a result that equals the sum of different forces, of which rough force isnt't but one of the mighty components. It is men who have decided the fate of Stalingrad, but, also, Stalingrad has determined the fate of men and the people.
I would like at least the slightest part of my work to be worth the suffering which war has brought into the world, of the forces of history of the people's spirit, of those human characters whom I am striving to write about. I want at least the slightest part of my work to be worth those anonymous soldiers who fought evil, whom must not be forgotten.
This ambitious and probably unfulfillable with compels me to face my work with the greatest severity which I am able of”.

Vas. Grossman

In the magazine, Tosco explains that the book mentioned by Grossman in his note is For a Just Cause, which precedes the famous novel Life and fate. According to the scholar “What strikes us is first of all the tone, which clashes with the collective iconography nurtured by official rhethorics that followed the victory of Stalingrad. No mention of the “glory” of the Red Army [...]. Grossman watches things from another point of view. ‘Stalingrad is the catastrophe of evil in the world'. Not a part of victory, but a part of the tragedy of evil [...]. Grossman seems to want to distance himself from the enthusiastic and optimistic slogans of propaganda which celebrated the epic success of the battle”.

The expression “Evil in the world” refers to the tragedy of the Holocaust that Grossman discovered right while joining the Red Army as a correspondent of the paper "Krasnaja Zvezda". In Tosco's opinion “by using these words Grossman establishes a connection, almost a comparison: behind Stalingrad there is the same grim evil which led to the Holocaust”.

14 June 2010

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