Everything Flows

In the mid 1960’s a chap called Vasily Grossman died in Moscow at age 58. He was a reporter during World War II and in the post war years wrote a communist response to War and Peace (called Life and Fate) and a lesser known, shorter work called Everything Flows; I doubt I would ever have read this book if it were not for the Kindle.

This later work, completed shortly before he died, was never published in Russia during the Soviet era (nor the other for that matter), and, having read it, it is a surprise that the author died of natural causes. The authorities knew of his works yet let him live.

The reason Everything Flows is so powerful is that it attacks virtually every aspect of Soviet life directly. Nothing is spared; Lenin is described in as bad a light as Stalin; people were given no choice but to denounce each other (the consequences of not doing so is graphically portrayed); the terror instilled in those accused of crimes and in those who accused them is laid bare.

However all of this fades into the background compared to the descriptions given of living and dying through the ‘Terror Famine’ in Ukraine in the early 1930’s.

You can tell that the writing is contemporary and based on first hand accounts but even so the reality of a State deliberately starving its own people to death on such a vast scale is difficult to comprehend. A stark statistic that jumps out of the page is that in the late 1920’s in the Ukraine there was several hundred thousand births. By the end of the famine this had dropped to a few thousand. The people were no longer there to have children.

Of all the genocide events in the 20th Century the Holodomor remains the least understood.

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