During the Second World War, Vasily Grossman served as a war correspondent for the newspaper Red Star. He was on or near the front line most of the time and he recorded his experiences in notebooks. The first entries are from August 1941; the last , written in Berlin, from May 1945. All the entries are remarkably direct, as regards both style and content. Grossman records people’s actual words, describes the feelings of both soldiers and civilians and does not gloss over acts of brutality, whether committed by Germans or Soviets. Grossman talked with rank-and-file soldiers, with peasant women whose hope was that the Germans would put an end to the collective farms they so hated, and with Vasily Chuikov and Andrey Yeromenko, the generals in command of the armiesdefending Stalingrad. Grossman had a unique gift for getting people from all walks of life to talk to him freely and openly. These notebooks have not yet been published in full. Oleg Budnitsky will discuss them as a source for the history of the war, as a source for his novels and as a literary work in their own right.
Oleg Budnitsky lives in Moscow. He is a professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, and director of The International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences. He is the author of “Russian Jews between the Reds and the Whites, 1917-1920” (University of Pennsylvania Press). Among his many publications in Russian are “Terrorism in the Russian Liberation Movement: Ideology, Ethics, Psychology”, and the edited volumes “Human Rights, Imperial Rights: Vasily Maklakov – Mark Aldanov, Correspondence 1929-1957)” and “Vladimir Gelfand, Diary 1941-1946”. He is currently working on a book to be titled “Soviet Jews at War, 1939-1945.”