Vasily Grossman Quotes
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Vasily Semyonovich Grossman was a Russian writer and journalist. Born to a Jewish family in the Ukraine, then a part of the Russian Empire, Grossman trained as a chemical engineer at Moscow State University, earning the nickname Vasya-khimik because of his diligence as a student. Upon graduation he took a job in Stalino in the Donets Basin. In the 1930s he changed careers. He began writing full-time and published a number of short stories and several novels. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was engaged as a war correspondent by the Red Army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda; he wrote first-hand accounts of the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk and Berlin. Grossman's eyewitness reports of a Nazi extermination camp, following the discovery of Treblinka, were among the earliest accounts of a Nazi death camp by a reporter. After World War II, Grossman's faith in the Soviet state was shaken by Joseph Stalin's turn towards antisemitism in the final years before his death in 1953. While Grossman was never arrested by the Soviet authorities, his two major literary works were censored during the ensuing Nikita Khrushchev period as unacceptably anti-Soviet, and Grossman himself became in effect a nonperson. The KGB raided Grossman's flat after he had completed Life and Fate, seizing manuscripts, notes and even the ribbon from the typewriter on which the text had been written. Grossman was told by the Communist Party's chief ideologist Mikhail Suslov that the book could not be published for two or three hundred years. At the time of Grossman's death from stomach cancer in 1964 these books remained unreleased. Hidden copies were eventually smuggled out of the Soviet Union by a network of dissidents, including Andrei Sakharov and Vladimir Voinovich, and first published in the West, before appearing in the Soviet Union in 1988.