Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 3

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 3, is part of The Slavic Literature Pod’s chapter a day read along of Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate. Learn more about our project here.

After learning about the Reich’s new types of criminals inhabiting the camps, this chapter focuses on how the people there have adapted. 

In such a horrific machine, the prisoners seem to have lost the ability to actively feel the horror of their situation. A man may be called by an orderly in the middle of his story — and simply never be seen again. The main reaction: trying to be the first to get his now-vacant spot. 

Amid this loss of emotion, though, Grossman still characterizes the prisoners by the odd, even morbid, ways they retain some sense of normalcy: 

“Mostovskoy has even got used to the conversation here—a terrible mixture of the teams for the death camps, the gas ovens and the camp football teams: ‘The Marsh team’s the best — the bog soldiers. And Sick-bay’s not bad. The Kitchen team’s got some fast forwards. The Poles have got no defense at all…’" (p.24)