My review of “Last Witnesses Unchildlike Stories” Svetlana Alexievich

lipstick socialist

last witnesses

PUBLISHED in 1985 in the Soviet Union this first English edition is a very painful reminder of the affects of war on children. In the 1970s  Alexievich  started interviewing the generation of children who had  lived through the Second World War and who had  carried that trauma with them as adults.

Official narratives of the Second World War -or as they dubbed it  in the Soviet Union  the Great Patriotic War –  remind us of the brutality of the Nazis,   the destruction of cities and towns and  the deaths of  at least 20 million soldiers  and civilians.  The preface of the book has two  quotations: one  from the People’s Friendship Magazine of 1985 which states that millions of Soviet children died during the war including Russians, Armenians  etc:  the second quotation is   from Dostoevsky  which says  that war cannot be justified if it makes a child cry.

Pouring out of…

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