Best 69 of Vasily Grossman quotes - MyQuotes

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Vasily Grossman
By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

During the thousand years of her history Russia had seen many great things. During the Soviet period the country had seen global military victories, vast construction sites, whole new cities, dams across the Dnieper and the Volga, canals joining different seas. The country had seen mighty tractors and skyscrapers...There was only one thing Russia had not seen during this thousand years: freedom.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Vasily Grossman

My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man's meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Astra is a beauty. (...) Astra is so beautiful that I have no wish to describe her beauty. I will say only that her beauty is the expression of her soul. Her beauty lives in her quiet walk, in her shy movements, in her always-lowered eyelids, in her barely perceptible smile, in the soft outline of her girlish shoulders, in the chastity of her poor, almost beggarly clothing, in her thoughtful grey eyes. She is a white water lily in a pond shadowed by the branches of trees, born amid still, contemplative water. (...) The world of modest female beauty finds its expression in Astra. As for what may lie hidden in the depths of these waters, no-one can say unless he breaks the water's smooth surface, walks barefoot through the cutting sedge and treads the silty, sucking mud — now cold, now strangely warm. But I only stand on the shore, admiring the lily from a distance

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Everyone feels guilty before a mother who has lost her son in a war; throughout human history men have tried in vain to justify themselves.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

They soon lost interest in Sofya. She was just one more prisoner -with no more idea of her destination than anyone else. No one asked her name and patronymic; no one remembered her surname. She realized with surprise that although the process of evolution had taken millions of years, these people had needed only a few days to revert to the state of cattle, dirty and unhappy, captive and nameless.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Bach felt the beauty and sadness of the moment. These men who defied the power of the Russian heavy artillery, these coarse, hardened soldiers who were dispirited by their lack of ammunition and tormented by vermin and hunger had all understood at once that what they needed more than anything in the world was not bread, not bandages, not ammunition, but these tiny branches twined with useless tinsel, these orphanage toys.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

There are one or two people - I’m not talking about family, about Zhenya or your mother - whom a pariah can trust. He can contact these people without first waiting for a sign.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The divine impeccability of the immortal [Soviet] State turned out not only to have suppressed individual human beings but also to have defended them, to have comforted them in their weakness, to have justified their insignificance. The State had taken on its own shoulders the entire weight of responsibility; it had liberated people from the chimera of conscience.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The hide was being flayed off the still living body of the Revolution so that a new age could slip in to it; as for the red bloody meat, the steaming innards - they were being thrown onto the scrapheap. The new age needed only the hide of the Revolution - and this was being flayed off people who were still alive. Those who slipped into it spoke the language of the Revolution and mimicked it's gestures, but their brains, lungs, livers and eyes were utterly different.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Sofya now understood the difference between life and existence: her life had come to an end, but her existence could drag on indefinitely. And however wretched and miserable this existence was, the thought of violent death still filled her with horror.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

I don't believe in your "Good". I believe in human kindness.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

He walked on down the dark, empty street. Suddenly an idea came to him. Immediately, with his whole being, he knew it was true. He had glimpsed a new and improbable explanation for the atomic phenomena that up until now had seemed so hopelessly inexplicable; abysses had suddenly changed into bridges. What clarity and simplicity! This idea was astonishingly graceful and beautiful. It seemed to have given birth to itself – like a white water-lily appearing out of the calm darkness of a lake. He gasped, reveling in its beauty… And how strange, he thought suddenly, that this idea should have come to him when his mind was far away from anything to do with science, when the discussions that so excited him were those of free men, when his words and the words of his friends had been determined only by freedom, by bitter freedom.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

I used to think freedom was freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience. But freedom is the whole life of everyone. Here is what it amounts to: you have to have the right to sow what you wish to, to make shoes or coats, to bake into bread the flour ground from the grain you have sown, and to sell it or not sell it as you wish; for the lathe operator, the steelworker, and the artist it’s a matter of being able to live as you wish and work as you wish and not as they order you to. And in our country there is no freedom – not for those who write books nor for those who sow grain nor for those who make shoes.” (Grossman, p. 99) He noted that “In people’s day-to-day struggle to live, in the extreme efforts workers put forth to earn an extra ruble through moonlighting, in the collective farmers’ battle for bread and potatoes as the one and only fruit of their labor, he [Ivan Grigoryevich] could sense more than the desire to live better, to fill one’s children’s stomachs and to clothe them. In the battle for the right to make shoes, to knit sweaters, in the struggle to plant what one wished, was manifested the natural, indestructible striving toward freedom inherent in human nature. He had seen this very same struggle in the people in camp. Freedom, it seemed, was immortal on both sides of the barbed wire.” (Grossman, p. 110)

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Another fact that allowed Fascism to gain power over men was their blindness. A man cannot believe that he is about to be destroyed. The optimism of people standing on the edge of the grave is astounding.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The longer a nation's history, the more wars, invasions, wanderings, and periods of captivity it has seen-the greater the diversity of its faces.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Your heart is raw and bleeding. Everything is strange and terrible.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Chekhov said: let's put God - and all these grand progressive ideas - to one side. Let's begin with man; let's be kind and attentive to the individual man - whether he's a bishop, a peasant, an industrial magnate, a convict in the Sakhalin Islands, or a waiter in a restaurant. Let's begin with respect, compassion, and love for the individual - or we'll never get anywhere.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

And here she was, an old woman now, living and hoping, keeping faith, afraid of evil, full of anxiety for the living and an equal concern for the dead; here she was, looking at the ruins of her home, admiring the spring sky without knowing that she was admiring it, wondering why the future of those she loved was so obscure and the past so full of mistakes, not realizing that this very obscurity and unhappiness concealed a strange hope and clarity, not realizing that in the depths of her soul she already knew the meaning of both her own life and the lives of her nearest and dearest, not realizing that even though neither she herself nor any of them could tell what was in store, even though they all knew only too well that at times like these no man can forge his own happiness and that fate alone has the power to pardon and chastise, to raise up to glory and to plunge into need, to reduce a man to labour- camp dust, nevertheless neither fate, nor history, nor the anger of the State, nor the glory or infamy of battle has any power to affect those who call themselves human beings. No, whatever life holds in store – hard-won glory, poverty and despair, or death in a labour camp – they will live as human beings and die as human beings, the same as those who have already perished; and in this alone lies man's eternal and bitter victory over all the grandiose and inhuman forces that ever have been or will be.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Don't you remember how you once answered a question of mine? Me - I shall never forget your words. Those words of yours opened my eyes; they brought me the light of day. I asked you how the Germans could send Jewish children to die in the gas chambers. How, I asked, could they live with themselves after that? Was there really no judgement passed on them by man or God? And you said: Only one judgement is passed on the executioner - he ceases to be a human being. Through looking on his victim as less than human, he becomes his own executioner, he executes the human being inside himself. But the victim - no matter what the executioner does to kill him - remains a human being forever. Remember now?

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

And it was not merely tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, but hundreds of millions of people who were the obedient witnesses of this slaughter of the innocent. Nor were they merely obedient witnesses: when ordered to, they gave their support to this slaughter, voting in favour of it amid a hubbub of voices. There was something unexpected in their degree of obedience... The extreme violence of the totalitarian social systems proved able to paralyse the human spirit throughout whole continents.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

How many people there were like him – forgotten during unforgettable years.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

This absolute lack of objectivity might be said to resemble nothing so much as the lack of objectivity these same people had shown during Stalin's life, when they had been so supremely worshipful of his mind and strength of will, of his foresight and genius. Their hysterical worship of Stalin and their total and unconditional rejection of him sprang from the same soil.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The sea was not freedom; it was a likeness of freedom, a symbol of freedom...How splendid freedom must be if a mere likeness of it, a mere reminder of it, is enough to fill a man with happiness.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Before the war Sofya Levinton had once said to Yevgenia Nikolaevna Shaposhnikova, 'If one man is fated to be killed by another, it would be interesting to trace the gradual convergence of their paths. At the start they might be miles away from one another – I might be in Pamir picking alpine roses and clicking my camera, while this other man, my death, might be eight thousand miles away, fishing for ruff in a little stream after school. I might be getting ready to go to a concert and he might be at the railway station buying a ticket to go and visit his mother-in-law – and yet eventually we are bound to meet, we can't avoid it...

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

And in this silence of the dumb and these speeches of the blind, in this medly of people bound together by the same grief, terror and hope, in this hatred and lack of understanding between men who spoke the same tongue, you could see much of the tragedy of the twentieth century.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

When you think about new-born babies being killed in our own lifetime,' he said, 'all the efforts of culture seem worthless. What have people learned from all our Goethes and Bachs? To kill babies?

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Human groupings have one main purpose: to assert everyone’s right to be different, to be special, to think, feel and live in his or her own way. People join together in order to win or defend this right. But this is where a terrible, fateful error is born: the belief that these groupings in the name of a race, a God, a party or a State are the very purpose of life and not simply a means to an end. No! The only true and lasting meaning of the struggle for life lies in the individual, in his modest peculiarities and in his right to these peculiarities.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Denna styrka hos den statliga nationalismen och denna vettlösa nationalism hos de människor som berövats frihet och människovärde blev till den nya ordningens förnämsta drivkraft, dess kärnstridsspets, och blev bestämmande för 1900-talets hela ödeslopp.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Man and fascism cannot co-exist. If fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then Fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

To Polyakov it was as though a fierce wind from downstream was sweeping up the Volga. Several times he was knocked off his feet; he fell to the ground no longer knowing what world he lived in, whether he was old or young, what was up and what was down. But Klimov dragged him along and finally they slid to the bottom of a huge crater. Here the darkness was threefold: the darkness of night, the darkness of dust and smoke, the darkness of a deep pit. They lay there beside one another; the same soft light, the same prayer for life filled both their heads. It was the same light, the same touching hope that glows in all heads and all hearts – in those of birds and animals as well as in those of human beings.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

When you were a child, you used to run to me for protection. Now, in moments of weakness, I want to hide my head on your knees; I want you to be strong and wise; I want you to protect and defend me. I'm not always strong in spirit, Vitya – I can be weak too. I often think about suicide, but something holds me back – some weakness, or strength, or irrational hope.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Thousands of people are being buried and no one attends the funerals,' said one of the soldiers. 'In peacetime it's the other way round: one coffin and a hundred people carrying flowers.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Both his voice and eyes had the burning cold of alcohol. His strength no longer lay in his military experience or his knowledge of the map, but in his harsh, impetuous soul.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The snow here hadn't thawed. Its large, rough crystals were filled with the blue of the lake-water. But on the sunny side of the hill the snow was just beginning to melt. The ditch beside the path was full of gurgling water. The glitter of the snow, the water and the ice on the puddles was quite blinding. There was so much light, it was so intense, that they seemed almost to have to force their way through it. It disturbed them and got in their way; when they stepped on the thin film of ice over the puddles, it seemed to be light that was crunching under their feet, breaking up into thin, splinter-like rays. And it was light that was flowing down the ditch beside the path; where the path was blocked by stones, the light swelled up, foaming and gurgling. The spring sun seemed to be closer to the earth than ever. The air was cool and warm at the same time.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The people in the hospital had been struck by her calm and the number of questions she had asked. They hadn't appreciated her inability to understand something quite obvious – that Tolya was no longer among the living. Her love was so strong that Tolya's death was unable to affect it: to her, he was still alive. She was mad, but no one had noticed. Now, at last, she had found Tolya. Her joy was like that of a mother-cat when she finds her dead kitten and licks it all over. A soul can live in torment for years and years, even decades, as it slowly, stone by stone, builds a mound over a grave; as it moves towards the apprehension of eternal loss and bows down before reality.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

At war a Russian man puts on a white shirt. He may live in sin, but he dies like a saint.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Why do people have memories? It would be easier to die - anything to stop remembering.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Good men and bad men alike are capable of weakness. The difference is simply that a bad man will be proud all his life of one good deed - while an honest man is hardly aware of his good acts, but remembers a single sin for years on end.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Staten blev till härskare, det till formen nationella övergick till att bli innehåll och väsen, det socialistiska jagades undan till att bli ett hölje, en fraseologi, ett skal, yttre form.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Vasily Grossman

In great hearts the cruelty of life gives birth to good.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The history of humanity is the history of human freedom...Freedom is not, as Engels thought, "the recognition of necessity." Freedom is the opposite of necessity. Freedom is necessity overcome. Progress is, in essence, the progress of human freedom. Yes, and after all, life itself is freedom. The evolution of life is the evolution of freedom.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Communication between people of different nationalities enriches human society and makes it more colourful.. Imagine our Russian intellectuals, the kind, merry, perceptive old women in our villages, our elderly workers, our young lads, our little girls being free to enter the melting pot of ordinary human intercourse with the people of North and South America, of China, France, India, Britain and the Congo. What a rich variety of customs, fashion, cuisine and labour would then be revealed! what a wonderful human community would then come into being, emerging out of so many peculiarities of national characters and ways of life. And the beggarliness, blindness and inhumanity of narrow nationalism and hostility between states would be clearly demonstrated.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

What does a woman who has lost her children care about a philosopher's definitions of good and evil? But what if life itself is evil?

By Anonym 14 Sep

Vasily Grossman

Ivan tells Anna: "I used to imagine that being embraced by a woman . . . as something so wonderful that it would make me forget everthing . . . [But] happiness, it turns out, will be to share with you the burden I can't share with anyone else.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

The true champions of a nation's freedom are those who reject the limitations of stereotypes and affirm the rich diversity of human nature to be found.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Vasily Grossman

He was endowed with the extraordinary powers of endurance characteristic of madmen and simpletons.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Vasily Grossman

There are people whose souls have just withered, people who are willing to go along with anything evil - anything so as not to be suspected of disagreeing with whoever is in power.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Vasily Grossman

When a person dies, they cross over from the realm of freedom to the realm of slavery. Life is freedom, and dying is a gradual denial of freedom. Consciousness first weakens and then disappears. The life-processes – respiration, the metabolism, the circulation – continue for some time, but an irrevocable move has been made towards slavery; consciousness, the flame of freedom, has died out. The stars have disappeared from the night sky; the Milky Way has vanished; the sun has gone out; Venus, Mars and Jupiter have been extinguished; millions of leaves have died; the wind and the oceans have faded away; flowers have lost their colour and fragrance; bread has vanished; water has vanished; even the air itself, the sometimes cool, sometimes sultry air, has vanished. The universe inside a person has ceased to exist. This universe is astonishingly similar to the universe that exists outside people. It is astonishingly similar to the universes still reflected within the skulls of millions of living people. But still more astonishing is the fact that this universe had something in it that distinguished the sound of its ocean, the smell of its flowers, the rustle of its leaves, the hues of its granite and the sadness of its autumn fields both from those of every other universe that exists and ever has existed within people, and from those of the universe that exists eternally outside people. What constitutes the freedom, the soul of an individual life, is its uniqueness. The reflection of the universe in someone's consciousness is the foundation of his or her power, but life only becomes happiness, is only endowed with freedom and meaning when someone exists as a whole world that has never been repeated in all eternity. Only then can they experience the joy of freedom and kindness, finding in others what they have already found in themselves.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Vasily Grossman

We should call on the Creator to show more modesty. He created the world in a frenzy of excitement. Instead of revising his rough drafts, he had his work printed straightaway. What a lot of contradictions there are in it. What a log of typing errors, inconsistencies in the plot, passages that are too long and wordy, characters that are entirely superfluous. But it is painful and difficult to cut and trim the living cloth of a book written and published in too much of a hurry