Vasily Semyonovich


Vasily Semyonovich Grossman (his real name was Joseph Solomonovich Grossman) was a Russian-Soviet writer, journalist, war correspondent. His magnum opus, the novel Life and Fate, was confiscated by the KGB in 1961, but was miraculously preserved, secretly microfilmed, and first published in 1980 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Vasily Grossman was a special war correspondent for the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda. For his participation in the battle of Stalingrad, he was awarded the Order of the Red Star. The words from his essay The Direction of the Main Blow are inscribed on the monument of Mamayev Kurgan. After the war, Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg compiled the Black Book—a collection of testimonies and documents about the Holocaust. Grossman’s novel Treblinsky Hell was presented at the Nuremberg Trials as evidence of Nazi crimes. From 1946 to 1959 he worked on the dialogues For a Just Cause and Life and Fate. The manuscript of the continuation to the novel For a Just Cause—the novel Life and Fate, which of a strongly anti-Stalinist character, was given by the author to the editorial staff of the magazine Znamya for publication. In February 1961, copies of the manuscript and drafts were confiscated during a KGB search of Grossman’s house. A copy of the novel, kept by Grossman’s friend, the poet S. I. Lipkin, was brought to the West after the writer’s death. The novel was published in Switzerland in 1980, deciphered from a microfilm by émigré professors Efim Etkind of Paris and Shimon Markish of Geneva. In the USSR, the novel was published censored in 1988, during perestroika. On July 25, 2013 the manuscripts of the novel “Life and Fate” were received by the Ministry of Culture. To commemorate Vasily Grossman, a memorial plaque was placed on the building where Grossman used to live and work. The authors of the project are architect Alexander Velikanov and sculptor Alexander Tsigal. The installation of the plaque was timed to coincide with International Holocaust Memorial Day, which is celebrated on January 27.

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