Soviets vs. Nazis
Centre of Stalingrad After Liberation, 1943 (CC)
From the LARB:
More than seven decades have passed since the end of World War II and what was once part of lived communal knowledge has gradually fallen away. Many of those who experienced the war firsthand have died and the inheritors of their stories are more and more disconnected from the realities their grandparents and great-grandparents witnessed. This is true for all the nations involved in the conflict, even the states that were once part of the Soviet Union, which — always one for superlatives — had mobilized the biggest army the world has ever known, and the biggest labor force on the home front to assist in a policy known as “total war.” Two remarkable recent books do much to awaken the modern reader to the immensity of the collective effort that brought the seemingly undefeatable Nazi war machine to its knees. Brandon M. Schechter’s The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II through Objects is a compulsively readable account of the material culture of the Soviet Army, focusing on the mundane objects that helped turn what was a “desperate, retreating band” in 1941 into the victorious troops that began to push the Germans back in 1943. Wendy Z. Goldman and Donald Filtzer’s Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Home Front during World War II is the fullest story to date of the Soviet home front, of the civilians who lived in dire conditions, often working double and triple shifts and sometimes dropping dead on the factory floor, in order to keep the army and the country going.