Vasily Grossman

«Sofya now understood the difference between life and existence: her life had come to an end, but her existence could drag on indefinitely. And however wretched and miserable this existence was, the thought of violent death still filled her with horror.»

Vasily Grossman


«The people in the hospital had been struck by her calm and the number of questions she had asked. They hadn't appreciated her inability to understand something quite obvious – that Tolya was no longer among the living. Her love was so strong that Tolya's death was unable to affect it: to her, he was still alive.»

Vasily Grossman


«Thousands of people are being buried and no one attends the funerals,' said one of the soldiers. 'In peacetime it's the other way round: one coffin and a hundred people carrying flowers.»

Vasily Grossman


«There are one or two people - I’m not talking about family, about Zhenya or your mother - whom a pariah can trust. He can contact these people without first waiting for a sign.»

Vasily Grossman


«I don't want to be told that it's the people with power over us who are guilty, that we're innocent slaves, that we're not guilty because we're not free. I am free! I'm building a Vernichtungslager; I have to answer to the people who'll be gassed here. I can say "No". There's nothing can stop me—as long as I can find the strength to face my destruction.»

Vasily Grossman


«There's nothing more difficult than saying goodbye to a house where you've suffered.»

Vasily Grossman


«Man and fascism cannot co-exist. If fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then Fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.»

Vasily Grossman


«There is a deep and undeniable sadness in all this: whenever we see the dawn of an eternal good that will never be overcome by evil – an evil that is itself eternal but will never succeed in overcoming good – whenever we see this dawn, the blood of old people and children is always shed.»

Vasily Grossman


«They soon lost interest in Sofya. She was just one more prisoner -with no more idea of her destination than anyone else. No one asked her name and patronymic; no one remembered her surname. She realized with surprise that although the process of evolution had taken millions of years, these people had needed only a few days to revert to the state of cattle, dirty and unhappy, captive and nameless.»

Vasily Grossman


«Another fact that allowed Fascism to gain power over men was their blindness. A man cannot believe that he is about to be destroyed. The optimism of people standing on the edge of the grave is astounding.»

Vasily Grossman


«We should call on the Creator to show more modesty. He created the world in a frenzy of excitement. Instead of revising his rough drafts, he had his work printed straightaway. What a lot of contradictions there are in it. What a log of typing errors, inconsistencies in the plot, passages that are too long and wordy, characters that are entirely superfluous. But it is painful and difficult to cut and trim the living cloth of a book written and published in too much of a hurry»

Vasily Grossman


«Ivan tells Anna: "I used to imagine that being embraced by a woman . . . as something so wonderful that it would make me forget everthing . . . [But] happiness, it turns out, will be to share with you the burden I can't share with anyone else.»

Vasily Grossman


«It is the writer's duty to tell the terrible truth, and it is a reader's civic duty to learn this truth. To turn away, to close one's eyes and walk past is to insult the memory of those who have perished.»

Vasily Grossman


«Does human nature undergo a true change in the cauldron of totalitarian violence? Does man lose his innate yearning for freedom? The fate of both man and the totalitarian State depends on the answer to this question. If human nature does change, then the eternal and world-wide triumph of the dictatorial State is assured; if his yearning for freedom remains constant, then the totalitarian State is doomed.»

Vasily Grossman