Last night, earlier this morning really, I attempted to fall asleep. The pain in my back raged and a cold pack soothed me. I slept for awhile, awoke, made coffee, then considered the collection of unfinished books gathered about my chair.
Stalingrad was the winner. I restarted it, as much to refresh my memory of what I had read so far of Vasily Grossman’s work. This is the epic novel of the epic battle that determined the outcome of that cluster of simultaneous wars that we call World War Two. Just as we cannot escape Sarajevo twenty eight years previous to this calamity, we live with this catastrophe even today.
Stalingrad, the battle, was fought by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. Invading Germans, their Ukrainian Hiwis, ( Hilfswilliger), volunteer support troops, faced Russians and other ethnicities of the Soviet domain.
I think of Stalingrad today, nearly eighty years later, as Russians and Ukrainians face off , yet again. Not that far West, past the Don, are these eternal killing fields, where the Slavic world bleeds herself out.
Pick a side. Either one will do. Cheer on this ghoulish festival. Get bored eventually. Then go back to the NBA playoffs, or the NHL playoffs. Perhaps cricket in India is more to your liking. The deaths will continue, even after you’re bored.