Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 18

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 18
Photo by Tibor Pinter / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 18 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.

On the left bank of the Volga River, Red Army command decides that it’s high time to rein in house 6/1. Who better to do that than the Commissar Krymov? Not only is he a reliable political element (as far as they know, at least) but he even has experience in combat command: in Stalingrad, he leads over a hundred rag-tag soldiers to break out of Wehrmacht encirclement. 

Throughout Life and Fate, Grossman has portrayed the Soviet military as having reluctantly adapted to the needs of its time — mostly in conceding that soldiers perhaps make more successful commanders than apparatchiks do. Still, a tension remains. The NKVD may not be on the front lines, but leadership has a vested interest in making sure their soldiers aren’t ranging a little too far in their perspective.