By Vasily Grossman
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Additional info for A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945
Like his predecessor, Yagoda, he was accused of treason and executed. 8 Simonov, Konstantin (Kyrill Mikhailovich), (1915–1979), poet, playwright, novelist and correspondent of Krasnaya Zvezda. Simonov later wrote his own Hemingway-style novel about the Battle of Stalingrad entitled Days and Nights, published in 1944. Although physically brave, Simonov, as Grossman reflected later, lacked moral courage in his relationship with the Soviet regime. Translators’ Note Any translation from the Russian which hopes to be readable in English requires a slight compression of the original, through the deletion of superfluous words and repetitions.
Komsomol, acronym for the Communist Youth movement. Membership could extend until around the age of twenty, so there were many active Komsomol cells within the Red Army. Children joined the Young Pioneers. Muzhik, archetypal Russian peasant. NKVD (Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del – People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs), a direct descendant of the Cheka and the OGPU secret police. NKVD Special Departments were attached to Red Army formations in a counter-intelligence role, which in Stalinist terms meant looking for treason within as much as espionage without.
The Red Army, when talking of the enemy, used to say ‘he’, not ‘they’. As this can be highly confusing in places, we have avoided a literal translation and substituted ‘they’ or ‘the Germans’. We have provided details on most of the characters mentioned in the text, but it has not been possible to obtain information on Grossman’s colleagues at Krasnaya Zvezda whose personnel files remain closed as the newspaper is still a military unit. It is extremely hard, especially when dealing with some of the fragmentary notes, to achieve the right balance between intervention in the interests of general understanding and respect for the original jottings.
A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945 by Vasily Grossman