Just finished Anthony Beevor’s epic account of the Battle of Stalingrad. Beevor is a first class military historian who gives the modern reader a glimpse of the horrors of WWII.
In the summer of 1941 Hitler invaded Russia. Quickly he gobbled up the Western half of Stalin’s empire, penetrating to Moscow in the North . The German invasion climaxed and reached its turning point at Stalingrad in southeast Russia. In fact, WWII reached its turning point at Stalingrad. Stalingrad portrays humanity at its lowest.From Aug 1942 to Feb of 1943 the armies of the Third Reich and atheistic Communism clashed in what would become the most brutal and violent battle in history.
Combined this battle alone produced over 2 million casualties. Both regimes brutalized the civilian population. Both treated their prisoners like animals. Neither Stalin nor Hitler placed any value on human life. By the time Russia drove the Germans back into Germany, Russia alone had suffered somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 million casualties. To put this in context, in all of our wars combined American has experienced about 1 million casualties.
Why should Christians read this book? First, it gets one in contact with history, and we are an historically challenged society. Second it puts one in contact with reality. As John Piper has said, we live in the Disneyland of the world. Stalingrad convinces the reader that something is radically wrong with humanity, that under the right circumstances people will descend to unimaginable depths of barbarism, and that the civilities of 21st century North America are probably an exception to the rule. Last, Stalingrad is tonic for the soul. It makes the reader thankful. No matter how bad your life gets, it will never approximate life as it was in the Fall and winter of 1942 in Stalingrad. Stalingrad puts life in perspective, a perspective we need on a continual daily basis.
I recommend heartily. Reading Stalingrad will fill you with joy and gratitude. Life in North America is a wonderful exception to the rule. It is only attributable to the sovereignty of God that you and I were not participants in Stalingrad.