Life and Fate Read Along, Part 2 Chapter 59

This post, covering Part 2, Chapter 59 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.

Then, a bombardment. Darensky and every soldier like him drop to the ground, crawling to whatever cover they can find. After so much boredom, terror comes. 

This terror of combat, the fear of death in the form of a bullet or an explosive shockwave or a random piece of shrapnel — all this terror will come to replace their stillness. That same night, on Comrade Stalin’s orders, the Red Army casts the die. It is soldiery like these who will decide the fate of Stalingrad. 

This chapter is a brief one, mostly taking us from the stillness of waiting (at least for Darensky and Novikov) and pushing us relentlessly into the Stalingrad meat grinder. But there is one moment of interest: under fire, Darensky suddenly realizes how small he is next to a high explosive.