Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 47

Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 47
Photo by Anton / Unsplash

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 47 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.

From the courtyard, the condemned are marched into the changing rooms. They shed their clothes, prisoner-workers shave their heads, and a man with a “childish, mindless, drunken smile” watches as they enter the gas chamber. (p. 546)

This man is, presumably, Zhuchenko — the prisoner-worker whose zeals so disturbs Khmelkov. Upon seeing his face, Levinton realizes that this is the man who will kill her. It answers an old question for her. “There he was; they had met at last!” (p. 546)

Much of this chapter continues the themes explored in the pages before: the condemned’s reassertion of their humanity, the complex lives of those coming to the gas chamber, etc. 

Of interest to me, though, is the passing thought Levinton has as she reflects on her attempted attack on an SS guard. ‘Could that really have been her?’ she seems to think. 

Then she reflects: “A foolish young Jew and an old Russian pupil of his once preached the doctrine of non-violence,” she thinks. “But that was before fascism.” (p. 545)