William Grimes reviews the collection of Grossman’s despatches that have now been translated into English by Antony Beaver, author of Stalingrad.
Grossman specialized in the vignette, the quick snapshot that captured a few moments of a story moving at top speed. It is usually a few salty lines of dialogue or a strange, horrifying detail caught on the fly that make his journal entries and his newspaper articles spring to life.
“There is a flattened Romanian,” he wrote, surveying the battlefield outside Stalingrad. “A tank has driven over him. His face has become a bas-relief.” In Berlin, he noted, “ladies wearing fashionable hats, carrying bright handbags, are cutting pieces of meat off dead horses lying on the pavement.”
Brief jottings suggest the magnitude of Russian suffering and the ferocity of combat waged against a technologically superior enemy.
A complete despatch here.