Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 29

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 29 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.

Obersturmbannführer Eichmann departs by limousine to meet Liss. 

We learn more about Eichmann’s younger life through Liss’ perspective. By doing so, the narrator makes an argument about fascism: it is a sort-of affirmative action for the unhappily mediocre. 

Eichmann looks for work in Berlin, tries to enter university. But he is denied everywhere he applies. Instead the role goes to some “obscure nationality,” or so he hears (p. 476). These rejections surely cannot be a reflection of his own fitness; in fact, the thought never even crosses his mind. 

No, it is simply discrimination against Germans — a horrible state for Germany to be in. “He had felt the examiners lose interest the moment they set eyes on his full face, his blond crew-cut, his short straight nose, his light-coloured eyes. They seemed interested only in people with long faces, dark eyes, narrow shoulders and hunched backs – in degenerates.” (p. 476)

The heroic Aryan man faces down the hordes of dark, suspicious, malformed peoples. But, somehow, they always get the job instead of him. Why is he being discriminated against? This is unclear. Another thought that never apparently crosses his mind.