Life and Fate,
Stalingrad: 62nd Army Position (West bank of the Volga)
The Shapashnikovas in Kazan
Lyudmila’s Point of View: Mother: Alexandra Valdimirovna; Sister: Zhenya in Kuibyshev; Sister: Marusya- Drowned at Stalingrad; Brother: Dmitry- In a Soviet Labor Camp; ex-husbund: Abarchuk- In a Soviet Labor Camp; Husband: Viktor Shtrum, nuclear physicist; Step-Daughter: Nadya, 15 years old; Son: Tolya: serving in the Army
Nadya’s character (69-70): “the traits in Nadya which Viktor found most irritating were those that he shared with her.” (70)
Lyudmila on Viktor (70-73): Marriage strains: “He no longer talked to her of his work.” (72)… He thought incessantly of his mother ever since receiving her last letter… Tolya and he never truly warmed to each other. He clearly favors his daughter, Nadya.
There has been no letter from Tolya for some time.
The arrival of Lyudmila’s mother Alexandra has shifted the family dynamics: she threatens to leave them, and Lyudmila sometimes wishes she would. Alexandra sides with Viktor on all family issues.
Shtrum arrives home musing about how Prout had made a breakthrough in his physics while relying on faulty data.
Quantum Physics (78)
Quantum theory’s new laws: individual entities no longer exist, only aggregates. There are no definitive laws, only probabilities. The microcosm illuminates the macrocosm: the more deeply physicists penetrate the heart of the atom, the more they learn about the luminescence of the stars and the shape of the universe
Two years before the war began, German scientists had split the nuclei of heavy atoms.
Anna Semyonovna’s Last Letter (80)
Operation Barbarossa reaches the small town in which she lives in the Ukraine on July 7th.
1st reaction on learning that you are about to die: Utter horror, and then relief to know that her son is safe. It is now bearable.
The assimilated Jew had forgotten that she was a Jew. Now she must die for being a Jew. The woman next door is already throwing her out and moving into her room. “You are outside of the law.”
Anti-Semitism is not restricted to the far right; no, people fall over themselves to collaborate with the Germans. Their souls have withered. (82)
Re-settlement to the Old Town, the Jewish ghetto. (The fat, breathless man in his winter fur coat.) Anna must leave the home she has lived in her whole life. Schukin promises to come to the fence and give her what he can, and Anna starts to feel human again.
She never used to feel she was a Jew. She felt Russian and was proud to love Chekhov’s plays. But now, she feels a maternal tenderness towards the Jewish people. She now no longer sees people as an eye doctor would; she now sees the reflections of their souls. (87)
Despite the fatal situation she and the others are in, the Jews maintain their essential humanity: “if there’s a downpour, most people try to hide, but they have their own particular ways of sheltering from the rain…” (87) People sustain their hope quite irrationally. They go about their lives as normally as they can. The children do their homework. It is “the life-instinct itself, blindly rebelling against the terrible fact that we must perish without a trace…” (89)
At night, though, her fears break out and she cries out to Viktor for comfort. She dreams of her mother. She hopes to escape.
But the young men have been taken away to ‘dig or potatoes’. Everyone knows what that means, and the imminence of death terrifies all.
Anna thinks about the children whose lives will be lost and of the culture, the civilization that is being wiped out before finishing her letter and handing it to her friend through the hole in the ghetto wall.
Viktor thinks about being Jewish and concludes that there is a terrible similarity between the principles of Fascism and Quantum Physics: “the idea of the liquidation of entire strata of the population, of entire nations and races, on the grounds that there was a greater probability of overt or covert opposition among those groups than among others: the mechanics of aggregates and probability
Is Viktor right? He is describing the politics of Stalin, but is he accurate about the racial pathology of Hitler and the Nazis?
Tolya is a Casualty
A letter arrives informing Lydmila that her son Tolya has been wounded in the chest and side. She rushes to Viktor’s office at the laboratory where news has just arrived that their lab will shortly be relocated to Moscow.
Lydmila gores to the local hospital with Viktor and discovers that Tolya is at Saratov. She resolves to leave for there immediately.
21. Getmanov’s Farewell Party
a. Getmanov has been reassigned as a commissar for the tank corps preparing to counterattack.
b. His colleagues Mashuk (State Security) and Sagaydak (Propaganda) have come to his home to bid him farewell with his wife and brother in law.
c. They drink to Stalin.
d. Getmanov’s career: he rose to province secretary (oblast) in 1937, at the height of the purges. Since then, he has understood that his personal interests are insignificant. Instead, the health and safety and strength of the party have been his paramount concern. Even so, he complains about the assignment. He had expected something more.
e. They discuss the promotion of Col. Novikov to commander of the tank corps and the subordination of Gen Nyeudobnov to him as second in command despite his solid ‘political’ credentials. They begin to plot Novikov’s downfall through his association with Krylov and Zhenya.
f. Nikolay’s gaffe about Stalin’s son Yakov being captured by the Nazis.
g. Sagaydak reflects on the liability of truth in his propaganda efforts to ‘bring to the consciousness of his readers only those ideas that were necessary and truly edicational…’
h. Mashuk notices an embarrassing photo in Getmanov’s album in which a portrait of Stalin has been defaced by a child.
22. Getmanov’s Farewell to his Family
Part One, Chapters 23-38 (115-175)
23. Jenny Genrikhovna's Arrest
a. The old governess for the Shapashnikova girls comes under suspicion because of her German ethnicity.
b. Jenny’s tiny cubby hole in the flat has become an enviable real estate possession in Kuibyshev
c. Jenny insists on recalling the past happily, even the times before the revolution which aggravates neighbors like the engineer Dragin. “You’ve sold your soul to the Germans, comrade Shapashnikova, just for a place to live.” (118)
d. Inevitably, Jenny is arrested and Zhenya ‘inherits’ her cubby hole: she is accused of informing on the old woman.
24. Zhenya's Residence Permit Struggle
a. Novikov and Krymov compete for attention in Zhenya’s mind.
b. How does Grishin personify the force of a totalitarian regime? Lt.-Col. Rizin complains about taking on a worker without a residence permit, but Grishin, the head of the passport section, refuses to cooperate with him. He radiates absolute calm. Why? Because he does not have to. Zhenya does not have the power to force him.
c. Soviet bureaucracy Grishin refuses to cooperate: Moral of the story? Without connections, you will not get anything from the government.
d. The following day Limonov arranges for Zhenya to get her residence permit.
25. Shargorodsky: the Eccentric Prince
a. Shargorodsky is an old man whose family came from the highest ranks of the nobility. He was a zemstvo man who preached Voltaire and Chaadayev before the revolution, the only landlord whose estate was left untouched by the peasants during the Civil War. He loves the poetry of Fet and in 1926 even criticized Marxism. He considers Belinsky and Chernyshevsky to have been the murderers of Russian poetry.
b. He is friends with Limonov who hits on Zhenya, hoping for something in return for helping her gain a residence permit and is rebuffed, but only laughs. For Zhenya these two old men represent the survival of the intelligentsia in this town.
26. The Steamship
a. As she gazes at the stars while out on the steamship's deck, Lyudmila’s thoughts center on her family and its tragedies: Dmitry’s imprisonment, her difficulties with Viktor’s mother and her own mother, and Tolya…
b. She watches as rich passengers bound for Kuibyshev come aboard, well dressed and well provisioned members of the nomenklatura who look askance at the soldiers on ship bound for Stalingrad.
c. She tells an old woman about losing Marusya and her step mother and about her niece Vera at Stalingrad.
27. The Nomenklatura
a. The well connected passengers disembark only the soldiers are left on the steamboat.
28. Saratov Arrival
a. As Lyudmila walks to the hospital in Saratov, she recalls her older sister Sonya who had died of the croup and is buried in Saratov.
29. Tolya's Operation
a. A clerk tells Lydmila the details of her son’s operation and how he passed away after telling Sister Terentyevna that he was glad that his family had not seen him like this. The whole staff mourned his passing.
30. Dr. Shimansky, Batallion Commissar
a. He describes how the hospital’s doctors had tried their best to save Tolya and how the staff had taken him to their hearts. He tells her he will take her to where he was buried.
31. Guilt before the Mother of the Dead
a. Dr. Mayzel meets with Lyudmila, hoping for forgiveness, which irritates the mother. Everyone feels guilty before the mother of a dead soldier.
a. The Gravediggers watch as the car taking Lyudmila to the graveyard approaches, wondering if it might mean more corpses and more digging in the frozen ground.
33. Tolya's Grave
a. Extraordinary writing as Lyudmila finally communes with her dead son and tries to come to grips with the fact that he is gone. She fails and briefly constructs a universe in which she can care for him alive again but passes out, blood gushing from her nose and spends the night there on the frozen ground.
34. Lyudmila Changed
a. From that time forward Lydmila is only partly there even among the rest of her family. She talks to Tolya constantly.
35. Viktorov in an Old Russian Forest
a. A squadron of fighter pilots is being held in reserve in the North.
b. Viktorov, the boyfriend of Vera Speridinovna, wanders through the ancient forest musing about Russian history, Vera, and the coming battle.
c. Viktorov emerges into a spring glade and concludes that no German aircraft has ever passed over this meadow.
36. Princess Dolgurokaya
a. At night Viktor thinks exclusively of Vera and his recovery in the Stalingrad hospital. He thinks of deserting and flying there at that moment.
b. He remembers the story of the brothers who gave their sister in marriage to Prince Dolgoryky. Just after the wedding the Priince was taken and thrown in prison by political enemies. The Princess remained loyal to him and journeyed to his prison, asking daily for his condition. He is moved again and eventually executed. Still the princess remains constant.
37. Berman: the Mukhin Affair
a. When Viktorov returns to the airfield, he discovers that they have been called into action.
b. The airmen rush around saying good-bye to local girls, bidding farewell to landladies.
c. The commissar Berman gives orders, and the pilots all think of the Mukhin affair, when a pilot had been accused of raping his girlfriend, and Berman had prosecuted the case aggressively. All the allegations had turned out to be false, and Berman lost all popularity.
d. The affair awakened latent anti-Semitism in the squadron which manifested itself in embarrassing jokes. At a pilot meeting with their superiors, an anti-Semitic remark gets under Korol’s skin and he gets angry. His superior Major Zakabluka, calls him out and orders him to explain what happened to Berman, the commissar. Zakabluka is really only saving face for himself in front of the commissar.Then Solomatin, the original antagonizer, asks Berman whether the squad is headed for his capitol: Berdichev, a Jewish enclave and everyone gets it. Berman cooly responds that a member of the Komosol should have gotten over his nationalist prejudices, and Korol’s angry response is blamed. No punishment is needed. (Solomatin: “See how they stand up for each other.”)
38. Pilot Banter by Night
a. The pilots learn that they will be stationed over Stalingrad. They remember their dead comrade Demidov in his last dog fight and then relish in memories of their success that day. A last farewell, that night, and the next morning the squadron leaves.
Part One, Chapters 39-41
39. Gulag Mining Camp
a. The sirens howl to awaken prisoners at 5:00 am mixes with the howl of wolves on the taiga, dogs barking, guards shouting, and tractor engines revving as the Dalstroy, the whole network of prison camps in the Far North East and Siberia begin another work day.
40. Abarchuk Remembers Tolya and Confronts the Barrack Gang
a. Arbachuk, Tolya’s father, had a nightmare the previous evening and fallen from his bed with a cry of despair. He had been dreaming of Tolya. He imagines his reunion with his son and the pity his son would feel for his gray hair.
b. He works in the tool store with his assistant, Barkhatov, a murderer. Barkhatov never does any work. Instead, he extorts food and warm clothing with the threat of murder. Arbachuk is too afraid to turn him in, but his superiors are figuring out that thefts are going on in the tool shop.
c. Despite what he has learned about law of the convicts with their brutal debauchery and pitilessness cruelty, his faith in the Party and the Revolution remain unshakeable.
d. He learns of the arrival at the camps of a former comrade, Magar, who once served in the Cheka, and inspired Arbachuk with his ideological fervor.
e. In the barracks, a storyteller is plying his craft, an old Prince is reciting his mystic poems. As this is Russia, political debate thrives even in the gulag. One of Barkhatov’s thugs is shaking down Rubin, an old Jewish prisoner, to get his boots. Rubin refuses and the thief, Ugarov, threatens his life. They do not shake down all of the prisoners, just the weak ones. Arbachuk remembers how he had been before imprisonment, a devoted party member, who relished passing judgement on others to affirm his own ideals and purity. The worst aspect of the camps, to him, was losing this self-righteousness. Later that night, Rubin has a nail driven through his ear into his brain and dies horribly. Barkhatov tells Abarchuk to keep quiet or else. Instead, Arbachuk informs on him to the guards. He has recovered his right to judge others even at the risk to his life.
41. Magar the apostate revolutionary’s suicide
a. Magar is dying in the infirmary when Arbachuk comes to visit him. The corpse of a kulak lies in the bed next to Magar. After an emotional reunion, Magar explains that he is dying and this is the last time that they will speak. He tries to explain to his friend the terrible mistake that they have made. Class war against the kulaks was wrong; rejecting freedom was wrong; our faith in the revolutionary ideology, even if it has preserved us in the gulag, is wrong. We should just die.
Part One, Chapters 42-51(195-217)
42. Late Summer 1942: The Apogee of Fascism
a. During the summer of 1942 National Socialism achieved the apogee of its success, and it was during this summer, while buoyed by military victory that the Fascists commenced their boldest and cruelest plan: to etnically cleanse Europe of Jews. Grossman's conclusion: if fascism had succeeded, mankind would have been doomed.
43. Sofya Levinton in the Cattle Car
a. Sofya is a doctor who was friends with the Shapashnikova sisters when she lived in Stalingrad for five years. She has lived a cosmopolitan, sophisticated life, going to concerts, mountain expeditions, and travel. Now she has returned to the shtetl of her youth, except everyone is in a cattle train headed for Auschwitz. In a period of days, people have reverted to the state of cattle (fulfilling Nazi fantasies). She learns of the terrible deeds that her people were capable of committing when life is threatened.
b. "As she listened to people's cries and mutterings, she realized that their heads were filled with painfully vivid images that no words could ever convey. How with painfully vivd images that no words could ever convey. How could these images be preserved, how could they be fixed- in case men remained alive on earth and wanted to find out what had happened?" (200)
44. Naum Rozenberg, the Brenner
a. Naum Rozenberg works on a brenner detail: digging up executed corpses and burning them. Even though the guards refer to the corpses as items, Naum insists they are people and in his mutterings consoles the dead whose rest he is disturbing.
b. After their toils are complete, Naum and his work detail are taken to another section of the forest where they dig their own graves. Remarkably, he escapes, only to be rounded up by the police and sent on this train to Auschwitz. He cries out, “Golda! Golda!”
45. Musya Borisovna Awakens
a. Musya the librarian awakens in the night to see out her window the Nazis preparing to liquidate the ghetto in the Ukraine where she lives. "In these few minutes of moonlight, she took the measure of the history of our age." (203)
46. Natasha Karasik Survives
a. Nataha Karasik sings in the cattle wagon. She had been selected for execution, taken with a large group of 'useless' life to the airfield, and machine-gunned.Somehow she survoived and covered with blood she returned to the ghetto and watched as the Ukrainians danced in celebration of the cleansing of her shtetl. She wanted to dance too.
47. David, Hiding in the Bukhmans’ Attic
a. While hiding in the crawl space of the Bukhman attic, German soldiers begin searching the roof for 'hollow' spaces. The Bukhman girl Svetlana cannot stop crying, and her mother finally breaks her neck.
48. David Learns About Death
a. David processes what is happening to him by recalling the way his conception of violent evil has grown since reading picture books about a wolf menacing a little goat and the red dogs in the jungle or imagining a huge wave approaching a beach.
b. His mother leaves him with her grandmother in a Ukrainian village (that seems diverse with Ukrainians, Russians, Germans, and Jews living together.) He hears Yiddish for the first time. He remembers how his grandfather wrenched the head of a chicken and the headless bird had run around before dying.
49. The Prewar Integration of Jews and Ukrainians
a. David found this world better than his own Kirov street. Everything was jumbled together. “mixed together into a rich seething stew.” He keeps a cocoon in a little match box. Deborah, one of his neighbors gives birth after being struck by lightning: She had been infertile for fifteen years.
50. Infected Cattle Slaughter
a. Grossman (openly) analyzes how fascism accomplishes the goal of mass murder: stir up hatred, then rely on fanatics, sadists, and people who want to settle personal scores. Cow the hundreds of millions of witnesses into silence. Enlist the victims in their own destruction. Rely on their willingness to deceive themselves with hope and then exploit their hopelessness with the moment of truth arrives. Grossman wonders if human nature can be altered by this type of ‘social science’. If so, fascism will triumph. Grossman concludes, though, that such a metamorphosis is impossible. Our yearning for freedom can be suppressed but not destroyed.
51. The Machine and The 10 Million
a. The machine that could reproduce the peculiarities of the mind and soul of an average inconspicuous human being would be as large as the surface of the earth. Tens of millions of people were annihilated by fascism.
Part One, Chapters 52-61 (218-266)
52. Novikov and Getmanov in the Urals
a. Getman demonstrates his talent as a commissar by using the Dutch uncle routine on Novikov by putting himself at his ease and hinting at his disapproval of the Nyeudobnov’s participation in the purges of 1937, then reminds Novikov that Beria (Head of the NKVD) thinks highly of him.
b. Nyeudobnov comes into the command center and informs Novikov of the need for a new chief of staff for a brigade and Novikov recommends a major with combat experience who ‘knows what’s what’, but Getmanov objects because he is a Kalmyk and there already is an Armenian second in command. Novikov only cares how well the comrade can fight the Germans, but he accedes to the commissar’s wishes and appoints a Russian national to the position.
c. Getmanov plays another card later when he reminds Novikov that the tank corps will be passing through Kuibyshev and he’ll be able to see Zhenya.
d. Nyeudobnov outranks Novikov but he defers to his command despite impeccable (i.e. sinister) party credentials. Nomenklatura. He brings with him, though, an excellent hunting rifle, stories about bringing down enemies of the people, and an excellent memory.
53. What Does Novikov Fight For?
a. Novikov loves to keep wild animals as pets and he will miss the hedgehog and the chipmunk that have been living with him in this post. He inspects the tank carriers that will bring his corps into position near Stalingrad and thinks of the many dramas he has officiated and the diverse individuals who make up his fighting force. “They were too rich not to conquer.” He recognizes that these men are his most valuable resource. (228-30) He grasps that they have come together as a party or army simply as a means to an end. Once accomplished, they can return to being individuals.
54. Krymov: The War Effort is Creating the True Soviet State
a. Krymov in Stalingrad inspects the troops and believes that ‘history had left the pages of a book and come to life.’ He senses a new spirit, ‘a new sense of dignity and equality’ that was manifest in Lenin’s day.
55. Sniper Meeting
a. Krymov attends a snipers’ meeting with Lt-Col Batyuk, an officer who counterattacked in the first hours of the war and was nearly shot under the suspicion that he was going to surrender to the Germans.
b. The various snipers report on their kills (with a certain degree of sadism), and Krymov resists reminding them that they are killing workers just like them.
56. Krymov at the Red October Works
a. Krymov visits the Red October steelworks and senses that Krymov and his soldiers will reveal to him the secret t their extraordinary resistance.
b. He cannot get Zhenya out of his head.
c. He informs Gen Guryev that Tolstoy had not been an eyewitness to the Patriotic War of 1812.
57. House 6/1
a. Major Byerozkin’s orders: the germans are unlikely to begin a major offensive without liquidating this forward observation post with its sapper detachment: basically, fight and die.
b. Political Instructor Soshkin, after breaking through to the house, reports that Grekov had refused to write an official report: “It’s more like some kind of Paris commune than a military unit.” (241) The divisional commissar takes a dim view of all this.
c. Ketya Vengrova is assigned as a radio operator to the house. We learn of her biography: her father had left her mother at an early age. She finds his photograph: “When we love, we die in silence.”
58. Grekov’s Commune
a. A dirty young man reads aloud from Pushkin’s poetry. Later he watches Katya.
b. Lt. Baktarov, plotter Lampasov listen as Observer Banchuk describes the Nazis tieing up a gypsy woman and burning her. They call in an artillery strike on the location.
c. Klimov, the scout, saves a kitten and gives it to Katya.
d. Luakhov, the sapper, discusses the reactions of animals to combat with katya as a barrage lands near them.
e. Bearded Zubarev discusses the key attributes of women with Batrakov and Kolomeitsev
59. Seryozha Sent to Krylov’s Headquarters
a. Seryozha Shapashnikov, Dimitry’s son, has been sent to Divisiaonal Headquarters to report directly to the general about what is going on at House 6/1
60. Grekov and Co. Seen Through the Boy’s Eyes
a. Seryhoza never reports, but his thoughts are communicated to us as he thinks of his comrades at the house.
b. Grekov: was he always exceptional, or had he become exceptional on arriving at House 6/1? Strength, daring, authority, common sense… in the past: a foreman in a mine then a building site, then an infantry captain: suddenly a legendary warrior
c. Kolomietsev: a devotee of literature and science
d. Klimov, the scout, has killed over a hundred men, was once a skilled lathe operator and instructor.
e. Batrakov had taught mathematics at a technical school
f. Antsiferov, the sapper commander, once a construction foreman, complained of psycho-somatic illnesses all the time. He likes to discuss philosophy with Baktarov.
g. Zubarev had studied singing at the Conservatory before the war.
h. Seryozha had been brought up by intellectuals, but his experience with these men had taught him that his grandmother had been right to have faith in simple working people.
i. Grekov: “No one has the right to lead people like sheep. That’s something even Lenin failed to understand.”
61. The Central Power Station
a. Spiridinov stays on duty at the Central Power Station with his daughter Vera who, although pregnant with Viktorov’s child, refuses to leave. He has not learned what Andreyev, a co-worker, has learned since the death of his wife: “You’re not as strong as I am. You can still find a way of consoling yourself. But I’m strong; I can go all the way.” (262)
b. Vera is convinced that Viktorov will come someday for her here. Her presence inspires the others.
Part One, Chapters 62-71 (266-322)
62. Viktor’s Problems with The Theory
a. The Shapashnikov family lives’ go on ‘like an iceberg floating through the sea’; Lyudmila fixated on her dead son. Viktor escapes to Sokolov’s Salon.
b. Viktor’s work is going badly: problems with fitting the data to the accepted theory: “a particle of salt” Chaos had erupted into the study of organic salts of heavy metals when exposed to fierce radiation.” (268)
c. Expanding framework of theory with new mathematical equations is no more that patching up the theory using different colored wools.
d. New data from Markov contradicts those equations.
63. Sokolov’s Salon
a. Cast: Karimov: the Tatar poet and translator (from the Crimea, where his wife and daughter are trapped by the war; Madyarov: the historian who insists on criticizing the state openly; Artelev, the landlord; Sokolov who insists that politics NOT be discussed, and his wife, Marya Ivanovna.
b. Sokolov: psycho-somatic illness and fear of disease yet bold and elegant mathematics… He defends the retreat before the Nazi onslaught as the State ‘absorbing the blow’.
c. Madyarov: the might of the state had constructed a new past, but it must give way to the logic of truth. He wonders what it would be like to have freedom of the press and the governments’ actions were subjected to transparent scrutiny. Stalin builds for the State, not the people
d. Artelev is unshaven and his clothes are worn, but he confirms Madyarov’s point that outside the special factories the economy in in chaos. Fulfilling the plan trumps any other consideration.
e. Viktor joins in on all sides.
64. The Salon on Literature
a. The men discuss Mayakovsky, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov.. and Socialist Realism (which affirms the superiority of the state.) Most modern fiction is dismissed as decadent.
b. Madyarov: Chekhov took Russian democracy on his shoulders, the still unrealized Russian democracy. We took another path- as Lenin said.
c. Chekhov brought Russia into our consciousness with all its vastness and showed that all of us are human beings vs. the state which mercilessly sacrifices the individual for an abstract conception of social justice. (Compare to Ikkonikov’s conception of the good)
d. Karimov criticizes Dostoevsky for his ‘hatred of Poles and Yids’. He praises Tolstoy for Hadji Mourat.
e. Sokolov asks what is wrong with celebrating Russian pride. He claims that Karimov’s people have their own government. (Yet the State controls harvest and imprisonment.) Later, he demands that Madyarov stay off of politics if he ever returns to this house.
f. Viktor remembers speaking with Krymov about Bukharin, a man with a kind intelligent smile. Karimov warns Viktor that Madyarov may be an informer. (Later, Madyarov will say the same for Karimov.) Viktor twice remarks on how refreshing it was to speak like human beings for once. He then conceives the idea which explains the data his team has collected on sub-atomic data.
65. Lt.-Col. Darensky on The Kalmyk Steppe
a. Darensky describes the steppes south and east of Stalingrad where the troops for the left flank of the coming offensive await the orders to advance. The steppes stretch to the mouth of the Volga in the Caspian Sea: ‘the earth and the sky above have reflected one another for so long that they finally have become indistinguishable.’ (291)
b. Darensky watches a horseman light off down a hill and wonders about the army that like a wounded animal has been has been driven back into camel country.
66. Darensky Seduces the Post-Commander’s Wife
a. Darensky arrives at Army Headquarters and finds a card game going on between a man and two women. Darensky is taken with the older one, Alla Sergeyevna who is married to the commanding officer.
b. Darensky is a lady’s man because he is thrilled and excited whenever he hits it off with a woman.
67. Mostovskoy and Chernetsov Debate; Ikonnikov’s News
a. News of the Russian resistance at Stalingrad has reached even the concentration camps. “There were visible links between the barrack-huts and the city on the Volga.” There is also news that the Comintern has been liquidated.
b. The émigré Chernetsov confronts Moskovskoy with the contradictions inherent in his ongoing support for the state. What of the dissolution of the Comintern? Mostovskoy marvels at the way old enemies remain a part of your life. When he criticizes Hitler, Chernetsov jabs, “There’s not much you don’t know about terror!” (300) He accuses the party of being the true kulak class: the workers’ lack of rights and the poverty in the villages are no longer the result of ‘growing pains’. Foreign policy: Hitler pact, invasion of Poland, and the Baltic States, then Finland, the suppression of peasant rebellions, even Kronstadt…
c. Mostovsko: We are the heirs to all the generations of Russian revolutionaries. Stalin is the new Lenin. The State has expropriated the expropriators, seized factories from the capitalists and land from the nobility. Workers and peasants have entered every sphere of social activity. We don’t wear gloves. We plunge our hands into dirt and blood… but the salvation of the world lies in our hands. We are the army of freedom!
d. Chernetsov: You are all servants of the State. The true basis of Socialism in One Country is iron terror, labour camps and medieval witch trials.
e. Ikkonikov enters and informs them that he has been pouring concrete foundations for the gas ovens. He says that he just cannot do it. “I’m free. I can say, ‘No.’. What power can stop me if I have the strength not to be afraid of extinction?” Father Gardi kissed his hand.
68. Joining Vlasov’s Regiment?
a. Pavlyukov complains to Chernetsov about the privileges the Russian officers are allocating to themselves and wonders whether he should sign on with Vlasov’s regiment. He has grudges against the Bolsheviks for never letting him live out his dream of owning a store and a little restaurant.
b. Chernetsov: “It’s no time to be settling scores.”
69. Yershov’s Comintern
a. Keyze, the sadistic guard, is punched by Major Yershov who refuses to sing on command, and Keyse spares him. Konig is head of camp police, a former convict.
b. Mostovskoy says that there a Russian scoundrels, but there is something special about a German murderer.
c. Yershov confides in Mostovskoy about his plans to build a POW resistance network. Osipov and Zlatokrylets must also be convinced.
70. Yershov’s Visit to his Late Father in the Gulag
a. Yershov is liked by all: ‘it was the same necessary warmth that comes from a birch log. His father had been denounced as a kulak, and Yershov refused to break with him. He traveled to the camp in the Northern Urals where his family was held. He found a dug-out in a small village between a forest and a bog where his father survives but his mother and sisters have died. They had been taken into the middle of the forest and left with nothing to survive or not. Yershov is certain that he is not only fighting the Germans but also the death camps where his family had perished.
b. General Gudz has achieved his rank via nomenklatura loyalty. Commissar Osipov, though, was very intelligent. He had chosen the right side during the purges.
c. Zlatokrylets did not believe the Communists could create a better person. “It just doesn’t happen. Look at history.” He recites a poem he composed to a dead soldier before taking his boots.
71. Gen. Gudz and Col. Osipov’s Suspicions of Yershov
a. Neither Gudz nor Osipov trust Yershov, yet they choose to think ‘dialectically’ about him. “He is a kulak. The repressions have soured him. We are realists. We cannot get on without him… the Party has always made use of people like that for its own ends.” (321)
Part Two, Chapters 1-14 (325-391)
1. New Recruits
a. New recruits dream of combat, but more experienced men know too well that they will be probably be thrown into battle to plug a line or ordered to counterattack at once, uselessly wasted.
b. Makarov’s 3rd Brigade with Fatov, battalion commander, however, would play a decisive role in an operation which would determine the outcome of the war.
2. Novikov in Kuibyshev
a. Novikov reports to Lt.-Gen Ryutin and immediately recognizes that this man is not a soldier. He is a mere statistician.
a. When Novikov sees her, he realizes that ‘this previously unknown feeling of happiness had no need of eyes, thoughts or words.’ (329)
b. Novikov makes love to her, but she still thinks of Krymov’s disheveled hair, and tells him “If anything happens to Krymov… if he ends up crippled or in prison, I’ll go back to him.” (331) She had entrusted him with the fate of the man she had wronged.
4. Novikov Calls Getmanov’s Bluff
a. Novikov receives his orders for Stalingrad.
b. Nyeudobnov is constantly vigilant for enemies of the people; Novikov never thinks about them.
c. Getmanov ribs Novikov about Zhenya, and Novikov ripostes by suggesting that political correctness should not be the primary reason for appointing key combat officers. He bridles at the commissars’ unwillingness to promote former prisoners (zeks) like Darensky to key positions.
d. Getmanov hints that his high level connections have indicated that the counter-offensive is imminent.
e. Thinking he has won Zhenya, Novikov calls Getmanov’s bluff and rejects their advice about not getting involved with any members of the Shaposhnikov family. He openly declares, “Anyone can do your kind of work, dear comrades, but just try doing some real fighting!” Getmanov responds joyfully, “You’re a real man, Pyotr Pavlovich! Let me embrace you!” (342)
5. Zhenya Loves Novikov but She Cannot Let Go of Krymov
a. Zhenya wishes that she could speak with Sofya Levinton about her situation. She thinks through her feelings for Krymov and tries to reject him, dreams of visiting Novikov at the front, wonders what happened to the little girl she used to be, and then gets the letter from Lyudmila telling her that Tolya is dead.
6. Viktor’s Shares His Discovery with Sokolov
a. Viktor tries to retrace the steps which led to his discovery but cannot. It had arisen ‘in absolute freedom’, ‘from the free play of thought’. “It had arisen from the depths where there are no mathematics , no physics, no laboratory data, no experience of life, no consciousness, only the inflammable peat of the subconscious…” (349)
b. Markov’s experiments had been essential because they had conclusively developed data which could no longer fit within the old theory.
c. Those bold, dangerous conversations at Sokolov’s in Kazan had also played a key part.
d. He tries to explain to Lyudmila what he has accomplished, but she is no longer very interested.
e. So he goes to Sokolov’s apartment, and his colleague is impressed, immediately recognizing the military applications of the discovery. However, he is also jealous, and Viktor senses his envy instead of wonder, and soon they are squabbling again.
f. However, Marya Ivanovna immediately recognizes from Viktor’s expression that something wonderful has happened.
7. The Move to Moscow
a. Viktor’s Lab Team: Sokolov, co-leader and theoretician; Markov, the engineer who sets up the machinery and the experiments; Perepelitsyn, the one-legged electrician; Savostyanov, the young, talented associate; Nozdrin, the technician; and Anna Naumovna, the analyst who is also Jewish
b. Anna Naumovna has been left off the list of personel to return to Moscow, she fears, because she is Jewish.
8. Karimov Warns Viktor of Mayarov (then vive-versa)
9. Family on Emotional Brink
a. News of Dmitry in the Gulag system
b. Grandmother decides to stay rather than move to Moscow with the family
10. The German Infirmary
a. Lt. Peter Bach, the Nazi with an artist’s soul, wonders at the Wehrmacht’s chances while bathing in preparation for surgery on his wrist.
b. He imagines an argument with the anti-intellectual Gerne about the true respect that Hitler and Goebbels have for Einstein’s theories even though he is Jewish
11. Bach’s Indoctrination/ Refusing Zina’s Visit
a. Bach had hated Hitler for years but now he wants to join the party because he has been convinced of the heroic destiny of the German soul. He rationalizes hostility against Jews by figuring that their soul must be collective and opposed to the German soul. He ridicules Marx who had emphasized the forces of class which tear a nation apart instead of the centripetal forces, like nationalism, which hold it together.
b. Zina, the Russian lover of Bach, appears at the infirmary, and Bach refuses to meet with her. (Grossman’s judgment of him.)
12. General Paulus
a. Paulus hints to his subordinate regarding his concerns about the upcoming offensive. Only one person, ie Hitler, has no concerns. If the Russians exploit the weaknesses on his flanks, he could be encircled.
b. He thinks that the whole struggle to take Stalingrad is pointless militarily. And he must cope with Hitler’s ego: he has never withdrawn without first attaining an objective.
13. Darensky and Bova Speak Freely in Kalmyk Hut
a. Darensky has always felt social anxiety and inferiority, but now something has changed. He finds it interesting that his aimless life has finally led him to a situation in which his best talents are being recognized.
b. Two officers, sharing a hut on the Kalmyk steppes, speak openly and without fear about what they think. They complain about the bureaucracy (“Not one step back!”) but not about the Workers’ State. This national ar is not about class conflict, but practical military choices.
c. The Birth of the new Soviet state comes at the moment of speaking freely.
d. Even so, you have to be strong to kick the Germans out.
e. Darensky has served with Novikov.
14. State National Socialism
a. The commandant of the camp, Liss, invites Mostkovskoy to speculate with him about the similarities between the Nazis and the Bolsheviks: their will, their strength, their willingness to consider doing the unthinkable in order to achieve their goals.
b. There is no difference between their rival ideologies: both are vehicles of nationalist power.
c. Lenin only thought he was building an international movement. In reality he was creating the great nationalism of the 20th century.
d. The Nazis understand the purges of 1937. They had their own purge of Rohm and the Black Shirts in 1933.
e. Kulak liquidation= Jewish liquidation
15. Ikkonikov on ‘The Good’
a. Ikkonikov’s Scribblings, which so nauseated Commandant Liss.
b. There is dangerous evil inherent in believing that Goodness exists in God or Nature, for abstract conceptions of the good have led to tyrants giving themselves permission to use any means to accomplish the good.
c. Ikkonikov no longer believes in abstract conceptions of goodness or any common good, but he still believes in everyday human kindness, senseless kindness outside of any rational system of ethics or religious dogma.
d. The example of the woman who goes to the aid of a German soldier who has accidentally shot himself while her family is executed outside. (408) Kant’s categorical imperative in action.
e. Goodness exists and it cannot be destroyed. It is the essence of human nature.
16. Katya Thinks of Grekov and Seryozha
a. Katya’s thoughts as the Germans close in: Krekov has ordered the others to keep away from her. “She’s mine.” Seryozha may be sent on a suicide mission to get rid of him.
b. The cat crawls off its pile of rags towards Katya, it’s rear legs paralyzed, and then dies. It’s last impulse was to crawl towards her.
c. Note the thoughts that cross her mind during the bombardment. (415) Images of Seryhoza and Grekov flash in a non-linear stream of consciousness. It is in this state, not in rational mode, that we make key moral connections.
17. Grekov’s Choice
a. Seryhoza kisses Katya and hugs her despite the lice, and they fall asleep arm in arm.
b. Grekov sends the young lovers back to the Russian lines and life.
18. Krymov’s Orders
a. Krymov is sent to put down the political heresy in House 6/1: refusal to obey orders and follow proper leadership models: all this partisan nonsense.
b. The news of Grekov’s misbehavior has reached Front Headquarters.
19. Transit to House 6/1
a. In the excitement of risking his life while maneuvering towards the tunnel to House 6/1, Krymov starts to believe that he can re-win Zhenya. “I’m on her path.”
20. Laughter at Krymov’s Rebuke of Grekov
a. Krymov has been sent to suppress the general sense of equality that has emerged not only in House 6/1 but also throughout Stalingrad. Freedom has been achieved at Stalingrad most completely by those who know they are going to die. (Ikkonikov: I still have a choice.)
b. He begins his pep speech, “Russians always beat Prussians!”, and the men respond with condescending laughter. The old man, Polyakovin, says that he has always wanted to ask, “Under Communism everyone will receive according to his needs. But won’t everyone just end up getting drunk?”
c. Another asks, “What about the kolkhozes, comrade Commissar?”
d. Grekov bluntly states, “Freedom. That’s what I am fighting for.” “You think you can put everything back just as it was before?” “The general coercion.”
e. That night Krymov is wounded in the head by a stray bullet and gets stretchered out.
21. Byerozkin’s Treatment: An Old Russian Remedy
a. Byerozkin, the battalion commander (see p. 58) has become incapacitated by a virus. He is oblivious to everything.
b. Glushkov, his aide, brings him to his senses by reading a letter from his wife to him. Byerozkin asks Glushkov to prepare a scalding bath of river water in an oil drum so that his fever will break. It works, and Byerozking is ready gfor duty again.
22. Klimov and Old Polyakov in No Man’s Land
a. Poyakov gets permission to go find news of Seryozha, and he and Klimov get caught in No Man’s Land when the German offensive erupts. They both take shelter form the firestorm in a deep pit where Polyakov reaches out to hold the hand of, it turns out, a German soldier who has hidden in the same spot.
b. Polyakov and Klimov survive, but House 6/1 is leveled and everyone within is killed.
23. Byerozkin Buried
a. Glushkov digs out the rubble to free Byerozkin, and he discovers that he is now in command of the sector.
24. Viktor Shtrum and Family Return to Their Apartment
a. As soon as he steps into the apartment, Viktor remembers the night last summer that he had drunk wine with pretty young Nina; then he remembers the night that Col. Novikov had brought the last letter from his mother.
b. The driver who helps the Shtrums move in comments at the size of the living space devoted to just three people. He tells the story of how a war veteran had stuck his medals into his flesh and tried to hang himself to convince the housing authority to allow him to keep his apartment.
c. Lyudmila works hard and succeeds in transforming the dusty mess into a home by the end of the day. She is head speaking to Tolya in his room that night.
25. At the Institute
a. Viktor is disappointed at the response he receives at the Institue the next morning. He had expected to be feted for his discovery. Instead he is plunged back into the lethal politics of the Stalinist bureaucracy. It is the same as at the worst of times during the 1937 purges.
b. Shishakov has been currying favor with a ‘young grandee’ who is related to key politburo member. He believes that Einstein’s theories have no practical applications, and Viktor scoffs, “contemporary physics without Einstein is the physics of monkeys.”
26. Chetverikov Sacked!
a. Even though Stalin himself has declared that scientists must be protected from Arakcheevs, the buraucrats have found a way to force out Viktor’s mentor, the theoretical physicist Chepyzhin. Shishakov is now the director of the Institute. Markov suggests that he might have resigned because he feared that his experiments might lead to the creation of a weapon of colossal force. Viktor wonders where Markov gets his informations.
b. Viktor’s new equipment has arrived. So has Svechin, the new party man on his team.
27. An Oasis of Luxury
a. Kovchenko, the deputy director, delivers the spoils to the members: he is responsible for ranking them and giving out food coupons and passes to the new canteen. Lyudmila is shocked that Svechin gets more eggs than they do. “Each according to his labor”?
b. Viktor himself is ashamed that he feels insulted when Sokolov is given the same privileges as he has. He feels alone and remembers his time in Kazan fondly.
28. The Architecture of the Gas Chamber
a. Liss prepares a report for Eichmann in preparation for meeting with Himmler regarding construction process on the gas chambers and incinerators for the death camps.
b. Thinking about Mostovskoy, Liss muses on the forces at work within the atom: “the forces of attraction begin to work on you as powerfully as the centrifugal forces”. I.e. Nationalism is as powerful as class warfare.
c. Liss visits the Voss Works where the ovens and poison gasses are being produced. He considers the details involved with making the process as economical and efficient as possible: tubes and pipes, conveyor belts, fans and ventilators, ball mills for pulverizing bone, gas and electricity meters, etc. etc.
d. The complex is being built according to principle of mass and speed: a huge turbine whose purpose is to transform human life (and all its chemical energy) into lifeless matter. The facility is both a slaughterhouse and an incinerator. Questions of architectural form are important (Hitler’s keen interest): supply canals, the recessed lighting fixtures, the pneumatic floors in the death chamber to facilitate moving the ‘organic matter’ into the hall beneath for ‘dental work’.
a. During Weimar Germany (1919-32) the young Eichmann had led a monotonously drab and uniform existence. He had trouble finding work in Berlin or even getting accepted at university because he looked so Aryan: blond crew cut, short straight nose, blue eyes…
b. The cosmopolitan intelligentsia with its strange tastes, its abstract mode of thought and its taste for the crude and the primitive in art held intellectual sway. These men, who were responsible for German advances in science, seemed the least German at all.
c. Now, Eichmann is responsible for implementing the Holocaust.
30. Hors d’ouvres in the Gas Chamber
a. In the middle of the gas chamber, the engineers had laid a small table with hors-d’oeuvres and wine for Eivhmann and Liss.
b. When Liss hears the numbers involved with the planning, he gasps in astonishment. Eichmann: “In twenty months we’ve solved a problem that humanity failed to solve in the course of twenty centuries.” (482)
c. Types of leaders: simple, undivided natures willing to be led; intelligent cynics who know of the existence of the fuhrer’s magic wand; the top members of the hierarchy; and the executives who serve the elite.
d. Hitler was the creator of the magic wand but also a mindless, frenzied follower.
a. Anti-Semitism is always a means, not an end; it mirrors the failings of individuals, social structures and States: Tell me what the Jews have done—I’ll tell you what you are guilty of. Nazis: racism, desire for world domination and indifference to the German fatherland
b. Anti-Semitism: inability of masses to understand the reasons for their suffering.
c. Historical epochs, unsuccessful reactionary governments, individuals hoping to better their lot—they turn to anti-Semitism to escape their doom
32. Which Battalion Commander?
a. Karpov, Byelov or Marakov to lead the offensive
b. The Germans had been duped into believing that the Russians had concentrated their forces at the center of their line. The Germans could not believe that all their attacks had been borne by a handful of men.
c. “Freedom engendered the Russian victory. Freedom was the apparent aim of the war. But the sly fingers of History changed this: freedom became simply a means to an end.”
33. Getmanov’s First Bomb
a. Novikov is in position on the Southwestern front.
b. Getmanov and Nueudobnov’s first bomb.
c. Getmanov is the ideal policeman: he is always sincere; he easily gains rapport and trust in his sympathy for the soldiers or workers with whom he is talking, but he is only collecting information. Back at the obkom, though, he is all about tight productions schedules, increasing output, tightening belts
34. Dinner at Corps Headquarters
a. Nueudobnov is struck by how impotent the rage of the State is at the front.
b. Novikov looks at the young recruits sitting by the roadside and is taken back by the pity he feels for them. He wonders whether he has ever heard a superior officer get angry at the waste of life in this war.
c. Col. Mozorov talks of the superiors who had ordered suicide attacks, and Novikov sympathizes but says that there must be no hesitation to sacrifice men in battle.
35. Yeremenko’s Aside
a. Yeremenko deals adroitly with the threats offered by Getmanov and Nyeudobnov by alluding to his personal relations with their superiors.
b. He holds Novikov back when they leave and reminds him, “You are the soldier.”
36. Krymov’s Report
a. After recovering from his head wound, Krymov sits down to write his report amid the paranoid atmosphere of the intelligence office in Akhtuba.
b. He tells the truth, as he sees Krymov had sensed the wonderful ‘revolutionary atmosphere’ among the troops at Stalingrad, but when he had visited House 6/1, Grekov had mocked the party’s ascendancy and taken a shot at him as well.
c. When Krymov delivers his report, he finds out that everyone in House 6?1 was killed. His superiors have assigned him to an unimportant case.
37. Celebrating 6 November 1942
a. Krymov attends the Stalingrad obkom’s celebration of the Otober revolution. At the ceremony, he is snubbed by his superiors and is asked if he knows Getmanov.
b. Getmanov plans to use Krymov to get at Novikov
38. Central Power Station
a. At the Central Power Station Krymov is reunited with his old brother in law, Spiridinov. Spiridinov tells Krymov of the death of Maryusa. Krymov can only take solace in word that Zhenya is still alive.
b. The workers drink together. Their camaraderie is unforced and authentic, unlike during the anxious pre-war years.
c. Krymov thinks of the night they had buried Lenin. He wonders about the purges and show trials. He admits to himself that Grekov had been able to give voice to doubts even he had. He admits that he has denounced friends but ultimately Krymov reaffirms his belief in the State’s leadership.
39. Mostovskoy’s Choice
a. Commissar Osipov informs Mostovskoy that he, Kotikov and Zlatokrylets have conspired to get Yershov sent to Buchenwald (and certain death.)
b. Mostovskoy also learns that Ikonnikov has been executed (by Keyze) for refusing to work on construction of the crematoria.
c. Mostovskoy chooses to post the leaflets he has been hiding in his clothes about the Russian defense at Stalingrad in the barrack-huts.
40. Mostovskoy’s Execution
a. After the war is over, a document is discovered which put Mostovskoy at the top of a list for summary execution of members of an underground resistance organization.
41. SS Sondercommando
a. Private Roze is responsible for overseeing the dental extraction of precious metals from the teeth of murdered Jews.
b. The work upsets him, but he happily pockets the five gold teeth per day that is his cut of the booty.
42. Anton Khelmkov’s Fate
a. Unlike Zhuchenko who twitches with joy as he closes the doors on the gas chamber, Khelmkov is appalled by his work.
b. He is a survivor who has clung to life through terrible experiences, but he recognizes that he is guilty and dimly understands that the only way out for anyone under fascism is death.
43. Sturmbanfuhrer Kaltluft
a. The director of the complex contemplates the sequence of events that have led him to this place where he oversees the execution of over 590,000 people. All he had ever wanted was to be a farmer on his family farm. He has been pushed by fate into this position.
b. Grossman openly declares Kaltluft to be guilty: “every step that a man takes under the threat of poverty, hunger, labor camps, and death is at the same time an expression of his will.” (536)
44. The Platform
a. The Jews who welcome the new arrivals after their terrible passage in the railroad cars reassure them that they will first be going to the bath house. “No merciful God could have thought of anything kinder.” (538)
a. The prisoner band strikes up as the arrivals make their way to the killing facility. The sound reminds all of the prisoners of ‘the blind, heart-breaking miracle of life.”
46. Passage into the Complex
a. Sofya and David, Rebekkah Bukhman, Musya Borisovna, Deborah Samuelovna and her husband Lazar Yankevich make their way along the line of prisoners.
b. As Sofya listens to the music, she realizes that she no longer has a future, only her past, that sense of herself know to her alone which constitutes the secret of her soul.
c. David carries the chrysalis of the butterfly in a match box in his pocket. He understands what is happening to him. His image of death has grown into this reality. David flings away the larva: ‘Let it live!’
d. A woman, Deborah, carries her baby, and Sofya sees her as a Madonna. She thinks of herself now as a mother to David.
e. A man with a raised collar lurches out of the line to punch an SS guard in the face and knock him to the ground. Sofy leaps after him with a shout.
47. The Changing Room
a. In the Changing Room Sofya looks at all the nakedness around her and thinks to herself that this is the body of a whole people. “Yes, here I am.”
b. She thinks of the foolishness of the doctrine of non-violence in this new world which contains Fascism. She says good-bye in her imagination to Alexandra Shaposhnikova.
c. People act normally, making jokes: “Manechka, there is a bathing-costume for sale here.”
d. Musya Borisovna watches as the beautiful curls of a little girl fall to the floor in a silky black stream.
e. A young naked woman screams, “They’re going to kill us, they’re going to kill us.”
f. Sofya thinks of the conversation that she had once with Zhenya about the paths that a victim and a murderer take through life until they finally converge. When Sofya sees Zhuchenko, she realizes that they have met at last.
48. The Gas Chamber
a. David is drawn into the gas chamber by the flow of naked people, “a form of movement identical in every respect to the streaming of molecules…” This gentle imperceptible current forces David away from Sofya and a sub-current draws him to the door. He could see Roze’s eyes through the glass…. And he is drawn back into Sofya’s arms. She holds on tight. (The guards will not try to separate them in death.)
b. His last thoughts are of running headless chickens, milk in the morning, and holding wiggling frogs by the forelegs.
c. Sofya’s last thought: “I have become a mother.” (Human creativity even at the ultimate moment.)
49. Grossman’s Comment
a. When a person dies, the universe inside of him ceases to exist, the universe that is so astonishingly similar to the macrocosm, except that it has never before existed in this unique way. The reflection of the universe in someone’s consciousness is the foundation of his or her power.
50. Semyonov, the POW
a. He too was taken, with Mostovskoy and Sofya Levinton during Stalingrad, but he survives. On the edge of starvation, he is released on the road to crawl off and die. Instead, Semyonov stumbles all the way to a Ukrainian village where he knocks on the doors of peasant huts until he finds one open and collapses on the floor.
b. Old Khrysta Chunyak, whose family was destroyed during the 1931 Ukrainian famine, feeds, bathes, and nurses Semyonov then lays him on the stove. Four days pass and Semyonov learns of the terrible suffering that this village suffered in the kolkozes in 1931: “It was worse than the war.” (562)
c. The Germans have now adopted the kohkhoz system and its oppression to their own uses.
51. The Stalin Prize Nominations
a. Moscow’s science circles hum with Shtrum’s celebrity. Savastyona tells Viktor of the vote in the Scientific Council to nominate Viktor’s work for a Stalin Prize. Prasolov, Svechkin. Markov and especially Gurevich praised his discovery.
b. But Solokov reports that Gavronov criticized Viktor’s work for his devotion to idealist Western physicists (Pure theorists like Einstein). He and other members of the nationalist ‘Slav Brotherhood’ (like Kovchenko) mock the achievement.
c. Shishakov favors ‘practical applications’ of research to steel production.
d. Viktor Calls Shishakov to see if he can get Landesmann and Weispapier reassigned to his staff and is snubbed.
52. Idealogues in Action
a. Solokov reports of the meeting at Shishakov’s home when Viktor called. Kovchenko and Badin (Central Committee) are displeased by Viktor’s current celebrity.
b. Gavronov: “Viktor’s work contradicts Lenin’s conception of matter.”
c. Savostyanov apologizes Shishakov’s machinations. Sokolov did not tell Viktor of the anti-Semitic comments made by many there. (Gavronov)
d. Anna Stepanovna Loshakov is forced to resign.
e. Viktor confronts Dubyonkov in personnel and is given a questionnaire designed to identify possible enemies of the state.
f. Kovchenko blocks the appointments Viktor requested for his team.
g. Viktor confronts Kovchenko and Kovchenko says that no one is irreplaceable.
53. The Questionnaire
a. German racial policies vs. Soviet class warfare
b. The State is not interested in putting together the most effective team; instead, it wants to search Viktor’s family background for potential subversive contacts. (‘Social Origin? Noble? Kulak?) It is nearly a racial test.
c. Viktor identifies himself as a Jewnot knowing about the coming anti-Jewish purge Stalin would attempt to implement in his final years.
d. Viktor thinks of his wife’s brother, denounced in 1938. He thinks of his aunts and uncles in America. Viktor thinks of the ‘probability theory’ and Stalin’s purge methods It is no different from Germans destroying whole peoples.
e. What questions should he be answering? Those which identify his love of science, his love of literature, his wine preference, his personality, his INDIVIDUALITY.
54. Shishakov’s Office
a. Viktor confronts Shishakov with personnel issues and Shishakov belittles his work in reply. “Your theories contradict ‘materialist’ theories of the nature of matter.”
b. Viktor explodes and rebuts all ‘ideological’ implications of his scientific work and condemns any racial discrimination against Jews. It is impossible to halt the flow of life.
c. Lyudmila is only concerned with Nadya and her officer being out late.
55. Alexandra Vladimirovna’s Letter
a. The Childhood home in Stalingrad is gone. The family is in shambles.
b. From a window, Lyudmila watches Nadya saying good-night to her soldier, and Lyudmila experiences a purely human moment: her emotions, good and bad, rush together and give her ‘the sense of life that is man’s joy and his most terrible pain.’ (591)
56. The Walk With Marya Ivanovna
a. Markov reports on scuttlebutt at the party meeting: Viktor has been denounced by Kovchenko
b. Kochkurov argues that there are practical applications to atom splitting while Badin complains about how physics is being led into ‘Talmudic abstraction’.
c. Viktor’s walk with Marya Ivanovna comforts him for she alone understands why Viktor felt compelled to challenge the party over their discrimination against Jews: his mother.
57. The Folklore of Lice
a. On the Kalmyk Steppe Darensky is bored to death with inactivity: he is only concerned with food, shelter, tobacco, clean laundry and the lice in the seams of his clothes.
58. The Black Moon
a. A black moon is shining over the troops, a battle moon.
b. The soldiers talk of boots and complaining letters from women at home.
59. The Offensive Commences
a. The soldiers learn that the offensive has commenced when friendly fire starts landing near their position and camels start howling in the desert.
b. Stalin has given the order to attack to Vatutin, Rokossovsky and Yeremenko.
60. Central Power Station
a. There has been word from Moscow about abandoning the factory as the bombardments begin again. Spiridinov has reached his limit. Nikoleyev, the party commissar, has been recalled to the Central Committee.
b. Vera has been evacuated to a hospital barge and is giving birth to Viktorov’s child.
c. Spiridinov deserts his post and leaves twenty-four hours before the offensive begins. He is doomed.
61. The Ferry Hostel
a. Vera considers th situation of her life and her family—all has been transformed by the arrival of this child.
b. She thinks of Viktorov and how close he must be to her and his new son.
c. Spiridinov meets his grandson and grieves anew for Maryusa.
d. The old man tells Vera that she deserves a medal for giving birth to new life in such a place.
62. Vera’s Night Thoughts
a. She has given birth, but she doubts that she or the baby will survive.
b. News of the offensive is announced and everyone thinks of their soldiers at the front.
63. Victorov Shot Down
a. At Air Force Headquarters the report is that Viktorov has been shot down behind enemy lines.
1. Krymov Arrested
a. Krymov is assigned to the 64th Army and General Abramov, but his initial meeting with the general is cancelled.
b. On the eve of the offensive he is arrested.
2. Interrogation in the Special Section
a. “Who recruited you when your unit was surrounded?”
b. The little lieutenant –colonel beats Krymov.
c. Loss of freedom= becoming another human being
d. “Stalin has heard my name.”
e. He hated his communist interrogator now more than he hated enemies of the state, but he was not an alien.
3. Life as a Political Prisoner
a. Krymov is moved to solitary. (They have just executed the prisoner who was in there who left a ‘hare’ made from the inside of a loaf of bread.)
b. Guards complain of the bloody mess that their superiors make of everything. Like the little yellow man who shot himself through the loaf of bread and was supposedly executed but comes back to life and stumbles his way back to camp. Why wasn’t he buried better than that?
c. Kyrmov learns that one of his guards was a bee-keeper before the war. At that moment he understands nothing within him or without him.
4. The Lubyanka (NKVD Headquarters)
a. The radiological Institute for the Diagnosis of Society
b. Krymov is strip searched while sreaming moments of his command in combat.
c. The Cellmates welcome Krymov, seeking news of Stalingrad. Dreling: the old man is an old Social revolutionary or Menshevik whao has been in prison for twenty years.
d. Krymov recognizes Katsenelenbogen, the giant, as a former Moscow compere. He was a member of the Cheka under its various leaders and permutations: Dzerhinsky then Yogoda then Yezhov, then Beria
e. Krymov understands why his cellmates are there but he still cannot understand why he is. These two worlds have always been apparent to him, but he had never put them together.
5. The Lubyanka’s Mystique
a. “Now it had happened.” Krymov gradually recognizes the shallowness of all his choices as ideological warrior, only when imprisoned himself.
b. Ten years without right of correspondence is the sentence from which no one ever returned, having been shot.
c. 1937 silence menacing: to be inside menat to be in another dimension, an abyss as profound as death itself.
d. Sometimes those who arrested are arrested in turn and then again: Stalin’s meritocracy.
e. Dimitry Shaposhnikova had been arrested and still Krymov had not understood.
f. Abarchuk, Lydmila’s husband, had confessed to a ridiculous lie: the plot to assassinate Stalin.
6. Dreling Katsnelenbogen, and Bogoleev
a. Dreling: an old Menshevik and longtime prisoner. He will not speak with…
b. Katsenelenbogen: the old Chekist
c. Bogolev: the art historian
d. The giant’s advice before interrogation: make their case for them in a way they understand and do not denounce too many people.
e. Bogolev’s fairytale… Criticism of Gorky and flare up about poetry.
f. Dreling on the judgment of history: you mean its ‘summary proceedings’
g. “No one in our world is innocent.”
h. Krymov acknowledges to himself that he too had not done anything to help friends who had been denounced.
7. 19 November 1942
a. Russian Offensive Commences
8. 20 November 1942
a. Novikov’s interior monologue as he dresses on the day his tank corps will attack. “There is going to be a wedding” for his new recruits.
b. Getmanov: “I love you, yes, and believe in you.”
9. Novikov Delays Attack
a. He waits until the artillery has cleared out the Romanian guns.
10. Stalin Waits
a. Stalin’s doubts… his recent mistakes
b. “not only history condemns the defeated.”
c. At stake? The Soviet state, Western Europe, the Jews, Soviet POW’s (doomed to the gulag), the ethnic peoples of the Caucasus, the Jews in the Soviet Union as he plans new purges.
d. “Why haven’t the tanks gone yet?”
11. Paulus’ Plea to Hitler
a. His plea to Hitler to allow him to pull back his troops has gone unanswered, so the 6th Army is encircled.
12. Soviet Tank Commanders Link Up
a. “Your vodka or our sausage?”
13. Getmanov’s Report
a. Getmanov affirms Novikov’s decision to delay as part of the victory celebration. Novikov brushes off the praise, arguing that nothing went as expected. No one choice can be said to make the key difference in a military movement that is so vast and composed of so many component parts.
b. Getmanov then informs Nyeudobnov of his report that will be critical (and devastating) on Novikov’s delay.
14. Stalin Sings a Little Tune
a. In his hour of triumph, Stalin sings a dittie about a bird in his net as he weighs the significance of this victory in the light of the crimes he has committed.
15. Tolstoy’s Theory Denied
a. Armies can be encircled ion this new age—with mobility and a vast indensible supply line.
16. Hitler Lost in the Woods
a. Hitler’s elan evaporates as his military falters.
17. Chyukov and His Generals Sit in Silence
a. This moment is the finest of their lives and cannot be diminished even if the future will prove humiliating and dishonorable.
18. Simple Soldiers Consider Their Accomplishment
19. Muscovites Return Home
a. Victory at Stalingrad changes Russians’ attitudes about themselves.
b. Russians no longer merely suffer; it is a time of Russian glory!
20. State Nationalism Critiques Viktor
a. “Always With the People” denounces Viktor, reasserting the supremacy of Marxist political thought even in the sciences.
b. News of the Stalingrad victory comes the same day
21. Viktor’s Penance
a. Sokolov informs Viktor that he will be expected to make a confession of error in a speech at the next Scientific Council meeting.
b. Chepyzkhin has returned.
22. Lyudmila and Zhenya
a. The sisters reunite, but their conversation is haunted by the family members who have perished in war and in the Gulag: Anna Aemyonovna, Dmitry and his wife… friends like Sofya (dismissed by Lyudmila)
b. Zhenya has come to Moscow to do what she can to help her first husband Krymov. She tells of her own interrogation by the secret police.
c. Lyudmila argues that Zhenya must forget Krymov and be true to her new love, Novikov
23. The Lubyanka in Moscow
a. The queue before the prison gates. (See Anna Akhmatova)
b. Zhenya’s naiveté as she learns the ropes.
24. Viktor Meets with Chepyzkhin, his Mentor
a. The value of science is not “Your wish is my command.” Rather, scientific discovery possess intrinsic value. They do more than produce new machines.They perfect the human soul.
b. Pure science also produces practical results. “Today’s theory is tomorrow’s practice.”
c. The link between nuclear physics and mathematics is about to emerge.
d. Chepyzykhin’s vision of progress: hemans are evolving towards greater freedom; the planet itself is changing from inanimate to animate matter.
e. Viktor’s pessimism: Despite our knowledge of the camps, what is to stop men from using science’s powers to create an even worse prison than the slavery of inanimate matter.
f. Chepyzkhin agrees—That’s why he refused to participate in any research related to nuclear fission.
g. “If there is a Chepyzkhin in Berlin, he won’t refuse to do work on neutrons.” So where are we then? Scientists are not saints. The power of the atom will be unlocked. (See Durrenmaat’s The Physicists.)
25. Viktor’s Debate
a. To confess or not to confess.
b. Viktor writes his confession yet debates whether he should go to the Institute. He meets Zhenya, behind the bathroom door.
c. Viktor learns of Kyrmov’s arrest.
d. The Meeting of the Scientific Council: Sokobov, Savoystyanov, Markov, Gurevich, Shishakov, Badin, Kovchenko, Svechkin, Ramskov, Prasolev, and Viktor
e. He makes his decision- perhaps his mother was standing beside him at that moment—that’s his best insight into ‘Why?’
f. “To deprive a man of his conscience is a terrible crime, even if one, to Lyudmila’s chagrin, must sacrifice your happiness to it.”
g. Marya Ivanovna arrives and Viktor realizes that he is in love with her, and he tells her as much. Marya meets Zhenya and remarks on her beauty.
h. Zhenya interrogates Viktor about Zhenya.
i. Zhenya meets Nadya.
26. Marya Walks Away
a. Viktor with Marya on the street: They talk and she decides to stay with her husband.
27. The Resolution Against Viktor
a. Savoystyanov calls and Viktor learns of the unanimous resolution against him. Anna Stepanovna calls. Chepyzkhin calls.
b. Viktor explains to Lyudmila about the new rules they face as social pariahs.
28. Darensky Protects a German POW
a. Darensky watches a column of German prisoners being marched to the East.
b. “Terrible and somber, a steel clad Russia had turned her face to the West.”
29. Darensky Meets with Novikov
a. They stole the map together.
b. “The T-34! She’s the queen!”
c. Novikov indicates Getmanov and lets Darensky know that things have come to such a pass that we fear our neighbors more than we fear the enemy.
d. Getmanov tirades about the Kalmyks who danced to the German tune. He denounces them as ragged, illiterate, syphilitic nomads.
e. Novikov asks Darensky to join his staff under Nyeubodanov, and Darensky shows his friend where the general had knocked his teeth out in 1937.
f. They get drunk and speak openly about these ideologues.
30. Alexandra Vladimirovna’s Poverty
a. Three letters from Lyudmila, Zhenya and Vera
31. Paulus’ Stone Age Soldiers
32. Pualus’ Headquarters
33. Chalb and Lenhard
34. Bach’s Regrets as he Eyes the Russian Line
35. “We’ve Become Camp Beasts”
36. Christmas Trees
37. Stumpfe’s Summit
38. Bach’s Russian Woman
39. Zhenya at the Lubyanka
40. Viktor’s Anxieties
41. Stalin’s Phone Call
42. Kyrmov’s Interrogation
43. Krymov Never Renounces Zhenya
44. Paulus Awaits Capture
45. The Soul of Wartime Stalingrad Was Free
46. Smiling Schmidt
48. “There, have something to eat”
49. Novikov’s Choice
50. Zhenya’s Letter
51. Novikov Recalled to Moscow
52. Viktor’s ‘Triumph’
53. Viktor’sAffair with Marya
54. Viktor Meets Shishakov
55. Viktor’s Collapse
56. The Gulag Becomes the State
57. Zhenya’s Parcel
58. Spiridinov’s Family
59. Spiridinov’s Transfer
60. Fate and the Human Being