War Correspondents in the Two World Wars- With a foreword by Phillip Knightley
Steven M. Miner ‘We Must Never Make Peace with Evil’: Vasilii Grossman
and a Writer’s Conscience in a War of Totalitarians In the waning days of the Soviet Union, one of Mikhail Gorbachev’s advi- sors was asked what positive achievements remained of the Soviet era. After thinking for a moment, he answered quietly: ‘we defeated the Nazis’. The Revolution, Civil War and ‘War Communism’ had been disastrous; the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the 1920s had simply been capitalism by another name; Stalin’s crash industrialization and collectivization had cost millions of lives, and his purges and repressions many millions more; in the post-war period, Nikita Khrushchev’s ideas were of ficially dismissed as ‘hare-brained schemes’; and the Leonid Brezhnev era was labelled the period of ‘stagnation’. Throughout the Soviet era, and continuing under Vladimir Putin, the victory over Hitler remains the iconic moment for modern Russia; the Red Army soldier not only saved Russia itself but also he rescued Europe and even civilization. Any attempt to question the purity of this triumph, or to pose awkward questions about the behaviour or motivation of Soviet soldiers, encounters a wall of of ficial and even popular hostility.1 The myth of the noble Soviet frontovik (front-line soldier) grows directly out of wartime accounts and has been given new life by Western authors aware of the debt the world owes the average Red Army serviceman: at no time during World War Two did the Western Allies face more than a quarter of the Wehrmacht (unified armed forces of Germany) and it was the Red Army that, in...
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