Everything flows (Grossman)

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Wassili Grossman in the spring of 1945 in bombed-out Germany

Everything flows (russ. Всё течёт , wsjo tetschot ) is a distance as essay -like narrative of the Russian writer Vasily Grossman , who was born and in the years 1955 to 1963 in 1989 in the June issue of the journal October in Moscow was first published in the Soviet Union.


This essayistic fiction breaks down into three themes. Firstly, the text corpus is designed as a sobering journey by an old man from the Gulag home to the European part of the Soviet Union; narrative framed with a touching little story. The protagonist Ivan Grigoryevich, called Vanya, born and raised in Sochi , dreams in the Gulag: Little Vanya is crying because the Russians drove the Circassians from Crimea to Turkey . Wanja's father decides: "You could have stayed here ...". At the end of the deeply depressing text, Ivan Grigoryevich returns sick and graying in the thorn-overgrown garden at his father's house and regrets his return. Now he can understand why some prisoners stayed in Siberia . "It's really terrible out in the wild!"

Second, there is an experience report: What has happened to Ivan Grigoryevich in the last thirty years or what incredible fates from this time have become known to him in the Gulag Vorkuta and in Siberian camps on the Siberian shores of the Northern Arctic Ocean as well as in the Kolyma region and in Norilsk ?

And third, what does the title Everything flows ? Answer: Heraclitus “Everything moves and nothing remains” is not exemplified narrative, but as a purely philosophical treatise. This heavy third topic - implemented as an essay, not prose - can be paraphrased as: What is man? More precisely: How are Russian people made? Lenin is presented not only as a philanthropist, but as the merciless annihilator of his innumerable enemies. Lenin was nothing more than the product of Russian history over the past nine centuries. That is, in 1963, in his last prose work, Wassili Grossman sums up that the fatalities in the Soviet gulags were not only caused by the two fanatics Lenin and Stalin , but were caused as a result of long Russian history.


In 1961 the finished manuscript was confiscated in the Soviet Union due to censorship in the Soviet Union . Wassili Grossman rewrote. The second version from 1963 was published posthumously in Russian in 1970 and in German in 1972 - both times by Possev-Verlag, V. Gorachek KG in Frankfurt am Main . Nikolai Artemoff had done the translation into German . Ludwig Homann had advised the translator at the time. In 1971 the translation into Italian (Tutto scorre ...), 1972 into English (Forever flowing, translator: Thomas P. Whitney (1917–2007)), 1973 into Spanish (Todo fluye), 1974 into Hebrew (ל זורם), 1984 into French (Tout passe) and Polish (Wszystko płynie) and in 1990 into Estonian (Kōik voolab). In 1990 another German edition was published by Verlag Verlag Volk und Welt , based on the text published the previous year in October magazine , and the translation of which was provided by Renate Landa .

Contents of the 26 chapters


Soviet Union in 1955: The train from Khabarovsk with Ivan Grigoryevich on board penetrates the Moscow dacha belt after a long journey . The greasy wadding jacket and the worn soldier shoes of the traveler can be seen at first glance at the convict who spent 30 years in prisons and camps. The person suffering from sclerosis is then graciously addressed as "Grandpa" by strangers on the way. Before Ivan Grigoryevich visits his Moscow cousin, he first goes to the steam bath to fight the vermin.

The cousin of the same age has since made a career as a scientist; also signed the letter against the killer doctors as an opportunist .


Ivan Grigoryevich had spoken out against the dictatorship around 1926 as a student in a Leningrad lecture hall , had been evicted by return post and had only left the prison for a short time since then. Ivan Grigoryevich has no business with the cousin. But he would like to see his first love again - Anja Samkovskaya, who lives in Leningrad. So he goes - again by train - to the Neva . Anna Vladimirovna, as she is now called, now sickly and gray-haired, is married to a chemophysicist. Ivan Grigoryevich strolls through the city for three days, finds the street, the house number and looks up at the apartment, but they never meet. The beloved dies of lung cancer . Ivan Grigoryevich meets Vitali Pinegin in the city. Ivan Grigoryevich wordlessly forgives the latter, who denounced him thirty years ago , for forgiving his cousin with pointed replies. Both Moscow and Leningrad have now achieved high degrees; own "dachas, savings books, medals, cars".


Ivan Grigoryevich comes in as an assistant locksmith and remembers. Most of the inmates hadn't fought against Soviet power at all. Former officers under the Tsar had come to the gulag so that they could no longer become active as monarchists. Ivan Grigoryevich thinks of the women's camps. The quiet Maschenka Lyubimova had died there. Before that, the 26-year-old mother of little Juliet had been sent in a freight wagon from the Yaroslavl freight station on the journey to Siberia for "failing to report counterrevolutionary crimes", ie crimes that her husband had most likely not committed at all. An escape en route was hardly possible on such transports. Because anyone who could squeeze through a hole in the floor of the car and threw himself on the track bed would be torn to pieces by a steel comb on the last car. Anyone who got on the roof of the car was shot at by a permanently attached MG . Maschenka, like all “the fallen, the worn down and the tough”, had hope for redemption from the evil from the beginning of their 9000 km long “journey” to the end. In a Magadan gulag, the woman, suffering from typhus , was forced to repair the street. What luck, when Maschenka had to sleep twice a week with the indifferent, very drunk supervisor Semissotov. But the silent, sullen Semissotov, who still sighed her after the forced cohabitation, was transferred and Maschenka had to go back to the hard work. Before she died, Mashenka had understood - her husband had been killed.


Ivan Grigoryevich can't get rid of the thought of his mother and the deculacization that began in December 1929. The men who fought under Denikin were shot first . Then "came" for the rest "the death penalty from starvation". Almost unthinkable - should Stalin actually have ordered such mass murder? And anyway, how did a “generation of Soviet people” disappear between 1936 and 1939? How did Postyshev , Kirov , Varikis, Betal Kalmykov , Faisulla Khodshayev , Mendel Khataevich and Oak disappear ? Wassili Grossman's comment: "They were all characterized by energy, willpower and total inhumanity."


The rest of the text is essentially essay. From the evaluation of Lenin and Stalin, only the former will be selected here and some thoughts of Vasily Grossman on the person of Lenin will be listed. The author offers a long list of examples for the loyal, extremely popular Lenin and only indirectly refers in a subordinate clause to his dispute with Martov over appropriate state terror. Wassili Grossman compares Lenin's obsession, this “monolithic simpleton”, with that of Avakums . But it is actually about much more far-reaching connections; about "the relentless suppression of personality" during the "thousand year history of the Russians". For example, the strength of the Leninist People's State, based on the lack of freedom of the Russian, astonished the Western world after the World War . That bondage is "new serfdom of the peasants and workers". We are talking about the "Russian soul"; a "millennial slave" - ​​a phenomenon difficult to understand for the more modern Western European. That would then be - after the liquidation of the landlords, merchants and manufacturers - a relapse into feudalism. For Vasily Grossman, Lenin failed when the author paraphrased the path of the revolutionary leader in one sentence: “The harder his [Lenin's] kick, the heavier his hand became, the more compliant Russia surrendered to its learned and revolutionary power, the lower its power became to fight against the really satanic power of centuries of serfdom. "Vasili Grossman can hardly see the vicious circle : Lenin destroys -" in the fanatical belief in the omnipotence of the surgeon's knife "- landlords, merchants and manufacturers, uses unfree Russians (serfdom) and succumbs to them fatal wrong choice of the weapon of unfreedom; speak of the new serfdom.


  • April 13, 2010 on Deutschlandfunk Kultur : Lutz Bunk describes the author as the "politically combative Tolstoy and the chronicler of the horrors of the 20th century".
  • May 8, 2010 in the daily post : Ingo Langner quotes the author's credo: "Everything inhuman is meaningless and useless."
  • May 10, 2010 in CULTurMAG : Elfriede Müller recognizes the “lightning-smart, emotional considerations about the failure of socialism”.
  • June 24, 2010 on Deutschlandfunk : Brigitte van Kann describes a key point of the text with a quote from Anna Akhmatova : “Two Russians looked each other in the eye”. This means victims and informers after the end of the Stalin era .
  • July 29, 2010 in Die Zeit : According to Marie Schmidt , the Moscow publication in 1989 caused a “literary scandal” there.
  • August 3, 2010 in the Tagesspiegel : Bernhard Schulz makes it clear that the text is not an eyewitness report. Wassili Grossmann was never locked in a gulag. On the contrary, he was a valued war correspondent during the Second World War . Despite inserted moral sermons, the book contains truths that are worth reading because they are informative.
  • August 20, 2010 in Focus : Finally, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this work was also praised in the Russian writer's lexicon.
  • September 6, 2010 in the Berlin literary criticism : Friedemann Kohler sums it up perfectly: “Due to reworking until shortly before his [Grossman] death, the work lost its formal unity. In return it grew into a breathtakingly fearless and clear-sighted essay on Russian history and a song of praise to freedom. "
  • October 15, 2010 in the FAZ : Sabine Berking certifies the text "political explosiveness".
  • March 26, 2011 in the NZZ : Uwe Stolzmann calls the work a “refreshingly irritating text”.
  • October 11, 2017 at litteratur.ch : Scheichsbeutel criticizes the "historical-political analysis that is grafted onto the plot and not integrated into the narrative."

Web links


German-language editions

Secondary literature

Individual evidence

  1. Russian Октябрь (журнал), Oktjabr
  2. Edition used, p. 50, 14. Zvu
  3. Edition used, p. 76, 11. Zvu
  4. Edition used, p. 173, 10. Zvo
  5. Possev , Russian посев, in German: Die Aussaat
  6. Ina Müller, p. 116
  7. ^ Thomas P. Whitney's translation based on the 1970 edition published by Northwestern University Press
  8. Edition used, p. 60, 3. Zvo
  9. ^ Yaroslavl freight yard
  10. Edition used, p. 94, below
  11. Russian Варейкис, Иосиф Михайлович (1894–1938)
  12. Edition used, p. 148, 13. Zvo
  13. Edition used, p. 167, 6th Zvu
  14. Edition used, p. 169, 5th Zvu
  15. Edition used, p. 172, 1. Zvu
  16. ^ Review of deutschlandfunkkultur.de
  17. Discussion of syberberg.de
  18. Review of culturmag.de
  19. ^ Review of deutschlandfunk.de
  20. Reference to the discussion perlentaucher.de
  21. ^ Discussion of tagesspiegel.de
  22. Meeting focus.de
  23. ^ Review of berlinerliteraturkritik.de
  24. Review of FAZ
  25. ^ Review of the NZZ
  26. Meeting litteratur.ch