Life and Fate Read Along, Part 1 Chapter 69

This post, covering Part 1, Chapter 69, 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.

Today we become acquainted with Keyze, a brute employed by the Gestapo to transport prisoners. He has a simple view of life and punishment, believing that killing someone with a bullet was like “emptying a coffee-bean into someone’s head” and killing someone by euthanasia was just “a small dose of elixir,” (p. 309). Keyze embodies the wolfish era that fascism has come to represent.

He derives a cruel satisfaction from making prisoners sing. During transport, Major Yershov refused to sing, instead opting to take a swing at Keyze and curse at him. Instead of killing Yershov, Keyze treated the new prisoner with a certain favoritism and respect that echoed through the camp.