Oorsponkelijke titel: Moskau – Stalingrad – Berlin
Nederlandse vertaling: M. Mok (Moskou – Berlin), A. TH. Mooy (Stalingrad)
Omslagontwerp: P. A. H. Van Der Harst
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Theodor Otto Richard Plievier (until 1933: Plivier) (February 12, 1892 in Berlin – March 12, 1955 in Avegno, Switzerland) was the German author of Stalingrad, (1945), Moscow (1952) and Berlin (1954).
Plievier was born in Berlin in 1892. During Plievier’s young adult life, he traveled and worked as a sailor in Europe and overseas. Through his travels he was exposed to anarchist-syndicalist philosophies that would influence his later work.
During World War I, Plievier volunteered in the Imperial Navy and participated in the 1918 Wilhelmshaven mutiny.
Under the Weimar Republic, Plievier became a social critic and author. His early works sought to connect personal experience and documentary with literature. He founded the “Publishing House of the 12” (Verlag der Zwölf) in Berlin during the 1920s. During this period he wrote and published Des Kaisers Kulis (The Kaiser’s Coolies), a critical account of his experience in the Marine during World War I.
After Hitler took power in 1933 and his books were burned Plievier emigrated to France, and later to Sweden, before settling finally in the USSR. After the outbreak of World War II, Plievier gained access to the front lines where he observed the carnage wrought there and interviewed captive German soldiers. In 1943 he became a member of Nationalkomitee Freies Deutschland ((National Committee for a Free Germany). He used this material to write his documentary novel Stalingrad, which was eventually translated into 26 languages. Stalingrad has been regarded as the most important work of literature to emerge from the eastern front during World War II. Its pitiless descriptions of battle and the failures of the German military leadership indicts Hitler’s megalomania and illustrates the senselessness of war.
The two acting main characters in Stalingrad are the Panzer-Oberst Vilshofen and Gnotke, NCO of a Punishment Company. Both men come from different backgrounds and experience the war differently. The Colonel is a convinced soldier who obeys orders and cares for his men. He fights with a sense of duty, but loses confidence in the German military leadership as he senses that he and his men are being sacrificed to a lost cause. NCO Gnotke’s work is to collect the dead, or their dismembered parts, from the battlefield. He loses his humanity as he works under constant fire and is exposed to unrelenting horror month after month during the war. The reader learns how he warms up his body on freshly fallen soldiers. These chapters resemble true horror-stories.
Stalingrad was subject to harsh Soviet censorship. It deals mainly with the German side. Plievier eventually broke with Moscow, leaving for the west in 1947. His later book “Moscow” presents a more comprehensive picture of life in the Soviet Union.
Stalingrad may be regarded as an anti war book as well as All Quiet on the Western Front.
Theodor Plievier died 1955 in Avegno, Switzerland, and is today a largely forgotten author, at least in the English-speaking world.