Quotes by Vasily Grossman

"Good men and bad men alike are capable of weakness. The difference is simply that a bad man will be proud all his life of one good deed - while an honest man is hardly aware of his good acts, but remembers a single sin for years on end."
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"I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never by conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil, struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer."
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"And the greatest tragedy of our age is we don't listen to our consciences. We don't say what we think. We feel one thing and do another."
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"In the cruel and terrible time in which our generation has been condemned to live on this earth, we must never make peace with evil. We must never become indifferent to others or undemanding of ourselves."
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"There's nothing more difficult than saying goodbye to a house where you've suffered."
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Books by Vasily Grossman

  • Life and Fate
  • 9,184 ratings
  • October 5th 2006 by Vintage Classics

    (first published 1960)

  • Stalingrad
  • 1,091 ratings
  • June 11th 2019 by NYRB Classics

    (first published 1952)

  • La cagnetta
  • 43 ratings
  • April 2013 by Adelphi

    (first published 2010)

  • Años de guerra
  • 36 ratings
  • November 2009 by Galaxia Gutenberg

    (first published January 1st 1989)

Vasily Grossman
  • Vasily Grossman

  • Date of birth: December 12, 1905
  • Died: September 14, 1964
  • Born: in Berdychiv, former Russian Empire, Ukraine.

  • Description: Born Iosif Solomonovich Grossman into an emancipated Jewish family, he did not receive a traditional Jewish education. A Russian nanny turned his name Yossya into Russian Vasya (a diminutive of Vasily), which was accepted by the whole family. His father had social-democratic convictions and joined the Mensheviks. Young Vasily Grossman idealistically supported the Russian Revolution of 1917.

    When the Great Patriotic War broke out in 1941, Grossman's mother was trapped in Berdichev by the invading German army, and eventually murdered together with 20,000 to 30,000 other Jews who did not evacuate Berdychiv. Grossman was exempt from military service, but volunteered for the front, where he spent more than 1,000 days. He became a war reporter for the popular Red Army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star). As the war raged on, he covered its major events, including the Battle of Moscow, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk, and the Battle of Berlin. In addition to war journalism, his novels (such as The People are Immortal (Народ бессмертен)) were being published in newspapers and he came to be regarded as a legendary war hero. The novel Stalingrad (1950), later renamed For a Just Cause (За правое дело), is based on his own experiences during the siege.

    Grossman's descriptions of ethnic cleansing in Ukraine and Poland, and the liberation of the Treblinka and Majdanek extermination camps, were some of the first eyewitness accounts —as early as 1943—of what later became known as 'The Holocaust'. His article The Hell of Treblinka[1] 1944) was disseminated at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal as evidence for the prosecution.

    Grossman died of stomach cancer in 1964, not knowing whether his novels would ever be read by the public.

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