One of the features of the Stalinist system was that those who had helped carry out the arrests, interrogations and murders of innocent people often ended up going through the same process. At that point even the most ardent believers in the system faced the moment when they had to accept that it was a cruel house of cards that had been more about manipulation and greed than solving poverty and breaking down class barriers.
The other powerful point that Grossman underlines is that living during this period of history was a twenty four hour nerve racking experience as it was not just about a job but it was a way of life that surrounded and suffocated.
Bullet points between pages 560 – 625
* Viktor burns his bridges after losing his temper and taking the unwise decision to speak his mind to his superior who is against him and quite happy to watch an opponent lose his cool
* Viktor is quite surprised by the lack of interest in his downfall from his close friends and his family and starts to accept that his future lies outside his institution and outside of Moscow in the provinces
* Back at the front the Russians finally mount the offensive that would lead to surrounding he German sixth army and it brings cheer and relief to those who have been waiting for a sign of hope
* But for Krymov the spirit of optimism is crushed as he is arrested and taken back to Moscow to the Lubyanka (KGB headquarters) and starts to endure the sort of sense of loss and vulnerability and confusion that thousands of others have gone through
* He cannot quite accept what is happening to a loyal old Bolshevik and is fighting to keep his reasoning and his loyalty to the system even in the face of such overwhelming evidence that it is all wrong
Maybe more tomorrow…