Welcome back to Douglas Murray’s Sunday column, Things Worth Remembering, where he presents passages from great poets he has committed to memory—and explains why you should, too. To listen to Douglas read from Anna Akhmatova’s “Requiem,” click below:
The historiography of World War II has changed radically. There is no longer any history of the conflict that does not pay full tribute to the unbelievable sacrifice on the Eastern front. It was always known about, but because of the Cold War, there used to be a belief—in the West—that the war was essentially won by the Western allies. Which, while true, was not the whole truth.
When the Russian archives opened and then shut in the 1990s, some of that full truth got out. The translation into English of the Soviet writer Vasily Grossman’s work did a great deal to help the understanding of the vast Russian sacrifice.
If anyone recorded the Soviet experience during the Second World War, it was Russia’s artists.