Vasily Grossman and Anatoly Rybakov: Soviet Sources of Historical Memory of the Holocaust

  • Alexis Pogorelskin


The Holocaust began in the Soviet Union, almost immediately after Operation Barbarossa commenced. Awareness of the Holocaust emerged as the Red Army pushed West after the victory at Stalingrad. Vasilii Grossman, a reporter for Krasnaia zvezda, the Red Army newspaper, made some of the first and most important contributions to that awareness abroad. This chapter pairs Grossman with another Soviet novelist of the war, Anatolii Rybakov, also Jewish, who lost family members under German occupation. Best known for his Arbat trilogy, Rybakov wrote Heavy Sand, a novel devoted to the fate of Russian Jews in German-occupied territory. This chapter addresses issues of textual representation in the country where the mass slaughter of the Holocaust first occurred, explaining why publication of these works was so long delayed and why they appeared when they did.


  1. Beckerman, Gal. When They Come for Us We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2010.Google Scholar
  2. Berkhoff, Karel C. “‘Total Annihilation of the Jewish Population’: The Holocaust in the Soviet Media, 1941–45.” Kritika 10, no. 1 (Winter 2009): 61–105.Google Scholar
  3. Clark, Katarina. “Ehrenburg and Grossman: Two Cosmopolitan Jewish Writers Reflect on Nazi Germany at War.” Kritika 10, no. 3 (Summer 2009): 607–628.Google Scholar
  4. Clowes, E. W. “Constructing the Memory of the Holocaust: The Ambiguous Treatment of Babii Yar in Soviet Literature.” Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 3, no. 2 (June 2005): 153–182.Google Scholar
  5. Emerson, Caryl. “War and Peace, Life and Fate.” Common Knowledge 18, no. 2 (Spring 2012): 348–354.Google Scholar
  6. Ehrenburg, Ilya, and Vasily Grossman. The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry. Edited and translated by David Patterson. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2009.Google Scholar
  7. Feuer, Kathryn B. Tolstoy and the Genesis of War and Peace. Edited by Robin Feuer Miller and Donna Tussing Orwin. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  8. Garrard, John, and Carol Garrard. The Bones of Berdichev: The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman. New York: The Free Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  9. Grossman, Vasily. A Writer at War: A Soviet Journalist with the Red Army, 1941–1945. Edited and translated by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.Google Scholar
  10. ———. Life and Fate. Translated by Robert Chandler. New York: NYRB Classic, 2006.Google Scholar
  11. ———. The Road to Treblinka. Edited by Martin Zwinkler. Middleton, DE: no pub., 2013.Google Scholar
  12. Hellbeck, Jochen. “War and Peace for the Twentieth Century.” Raritan 27, no. 1 (2007): 24–48.Google Scholar
  13. Kukulin, Ilya. “Russian Literature on the Shoah: New Approaches and Contexts,” trans. Alissa Valles. Kritika 18, no. 1 (Winter 2017): 165–175.Google Scholar
  14. Rosenshield, Gary. “Socialist Realism: Stalinism and the Holocaust: Jewish Life and Death in Anatoly Rybakov’s Heavy Sand.Publication of the Modern Language Association 111, no. 2 (March 1996): 240–255.Google Scholar
  15. Rubenstein, Joshua. Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg. New York: Basic Books, 1996.Google Scholar
  16. Rybakov, Anatoly. Heavy Sand. Translated by Harold Shukman. London: Penguin Books, 1981.Google Scholar
  17. Weiner, Amir. “A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941–1945” (review). Kritika 10, no. 2 (Spring 2009): 387–397.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexis Pogorelskin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Minnesota-DuluthDuluthUSA

Personalised recommendations