Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 12

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 12
Photo by Marjan Blan / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 12 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.

By this point in the narrative, it’s clear we’ve hit a point where the German advance has stalled. What they thought would be a quick victory on the Eastern Front had turned into a bitter struggle to capture even an inch of territory. General Friedrich Paulus, who commanded over a quarter million Wehrmacht soldiers, felt  “deep down something was changing; and this change was on the point of becoming irrevocable,” (p. 379).

For the first time in the conflict a sense of unease has started to set in among the officers. The vastness of the Soviet Union has made itself felt. Paraphrasing another officer, Paulus says that “We didn’t strike with a fist. We struck with an open hand, our fingers stretching across the infinite spaces of the East,” (p. 380). Attempting to close fingers into a fist, Paulus and the other generals can’t quite encircle the Soviets in their entirety.