Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 41

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 41 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.

Moving on from what seems like the end of Mostovskoy’s underground resistance, today Grossman brings us to the living quarters of the people working in the gas chambers.

Many parts of this chapter take on an insidiously innocuous tone. Private Roze, the new employee assigned to the two tasks of watching through the window to make sure the executions are complete and making sure the dentists are efficiently stripping prisoners of their gold fillings. The narrator describes the conflict as one based on certain morality: “While Roze was up above the dentists and the men loading bodies onto the conveyor-belt could steal and loot to their hearts’ content,” (p. 532). Roze brushes aside the morality of mass executions, but takes issue with the dentists’ stealing gold fillings from the prisoners rather than delivering it all to the state.