Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 30

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 30
Photo by Ice Tea / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 30 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.

Eichmann’s visit to the death camp chills even Liss. There is a palpable sense of tension throughout the chapter that hits a crescendo when the pair eat hors d'oeuvres and drink wine in a newly-constructed gas chamber.

 “The tension in this concrete silence, in these full glasses, was so extreme that Liss felt his heart was about to burst,” the narrator tells us. “What he wanted was some ringing toast to clear the atmosphere, a toast to the glory of the German ideal. Instead, the tension grew stronger  – Eichmann was chewing a sandwich.” (p. 478)

The narrator makes an interesting choice here to meaningfully differentiate Eichmann from Liss. Both men are comfortable with monstrous acts, to be sure. They are both of the same rank in the SS. But Liss is portrayed as having some tightly contained ill-feelings about the venture: he thinks of how he would rather return to his articles, would even prefer to play chess with an old bolshevik over this meeting. He eats little and drinks much.