After mapping out a network of Russian characters that are linked with Viktor and his wife Grossman shows his true Tolstoyian ambitions by switching the narrative cross to cover the German forces. Here he again focuses on the theme of freedom of speech with a lieutenant suffering from a shoulder injury frightened of sharing his real thoughts with his fellow solders.
What appears to be becoming one of the central themes of the book – the battle to speak your mind – surfaces again as Mostovsky the old communist meets the head of the prisoner of war camp and is lectured that there is not a great deal dividing the Germans and the Soviets both with their adherence to a one-party state and brutality.
Bullet points between pages 340 – 440
* The Germans are as much dominated by Hitler with the common soldiers frowning on those that are party members blinded to criticism of a leader who appears to be unable to walk away from Stalingrad
* General Paulus in charge of the German forces around and in the besieged city seems to understand the threat to the flanks and the futility of fighting but signs the order for a major attack on the tractor factory
* Viktor stumbles across the solution to his scientific problems but continues to be hurt by the attitude of his colleagues that ranges from jealousy to indifference and he ends up arguing with his daughter and realises his wife doesn’t care anymore
* Back at the front the fighting goes on with the house holding out against the Germans a target of both sides as Krymov is sent into to make sure that the political line of the party is stuck to and the commander there does not become too partisan
* It becomes irrelevant because Krymov is hit by a bullet and taken back to hospital and then the Germans attack and flatten the house and everyone in it the only people who escape are the female wireless operator who goes off with her sweetheart and a couple of scouts who were absent when the attack began
* Viktor and his family are sent back to Moscow with more people feeling that a corner has been turned and there is reason to be optimistic and it is all because the Nazis have been halted on the Volga
* Meanwhile back in the prisoner of war camp there is a late night discussion between the camp commandant and Mostovsky about why the two countries should really be fighting together leaving the old communist feeling like he has been mentally assaulted