Stalingrad Author:Theodor Plievier Written by a German Communist who defected to the Soviet Union prior to World War II, this hard-to-find work of historical fiction is a gripper. The book tells the story of the greatest battle in the history of the world — the Battle of Stalingrad — where hundred of thousands of men perished in a cauldron of lead, fire, and shrapnel.... more » It is the story of the utter defeat of the German Sixth Army, where close to 500,000 people perished. Throughout this book we find the dehumanizing and degrading effect of war on men.
It is expertly written, weaving in stories of heroes and villains, the courageous and the cowardly. The story opens and closes with two German grave diggers Gnotke and Gimpf, who epitomize the whole story: Gnotke, who shows humanity by taking care of the helpless Gimpf; and Gimpf, who struggles with inner demons for his slaughter of innocent civilians. In between, we find a divergent cast of characters who find themselves in circumstances that defy imagination.
The author, a German, was born in Berlin in 1892. He served in the German navy in World War I and took an active part in the general mutiny that caused the disintegration of the navy in 1918. After his outspoken antimilitarism and a growing hatred of Nazism got him in trouble in Hitler's Germany, he turned to Communism and fled to Russia in 1933. He wrote anti-Nazi propaganda for the Soviets during World War II, and interviewed German survivors of Stalingrad after the war. In 1947, he left Russia and moved to Switzerland, where he died in 1955.« less