City of Thieves

Colonel Grechko Character Analysis

Father to the colonel's daughter. An NKVD officer who Lev understands has been "disappeared" in the past by the same organization he now works for. When Lev and Kolya are brought to him, Grechko takes their ration cards and instructs them to bring him eggs to make a cake for his daughter's wedding before the end of the week. This ridiculous quest imperils Lev and Kolya’s lives in food-starved Leningrad, and even after Lev succeeds in it he discovers that Grechko already had the means of finding eggs, hinting at the corruption inherent in the army that Lev originally hoped to serve in as a hero.

Colonel Grechko Quotes in City of Thieves

The City of Thieves quotes below are all either spoken by Colonel Grechko or refer to Colonel Grechko. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of City of Thieves published in 2009.
Chapter 3 Quotes

She wants a real wedding, a proper wedding. This is good, life must continue, we're fighting barbarians but we must remain human, Russian. So we will have music, dancing... a cake.

Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 26 Quotes

"Those words you want to say right now? Don't say them." He smiled and cuffed my cheek with something close to real affection. "And that, my friend, is the secret to living a long life."

Related Characters: Colonel Grechko (speaker), Lev Beniov, Kolya Vlasov
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:
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Colonel Grechko Character Timeline in City of Thieves

The timeline below shows where the character Colonel Grechko appears in City of Thieves. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...look back as the soldiers remark that Lev looks like a good one for the “colonel,” and shove Lev and the German corpse into the backseat. (full context)
Chapter 3
Growing Up Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
...and the deserter's" cuffs, to which Kolya replies that he's not a deserter. The man—the colonel—approaches, not allowing Kolya to explain, and laughs when Lev apologizes for looting. He asks Lev... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
Returning to the window, the colonel confirms that Lev's father was the poet. He commands an aide to bring Lev and... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Lev realizes that the colonel's teeth are false, and suddenly knows that the colonel had been tortured, just like his... (full context)
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
The colonel continues, saying that his daughter wants a real wedding, which means they need a cake.... (full context)
Chapter 5
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...but the soldiers won't take Kolya seriously until he offers them the letter from Colonel Grechko. Finally they ask Kolya and Lev to lead them back to the building, but the... (full context)
Chapter 11
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...A sergeant approaches them and asks for their papers. Kolya hands the letter from the colonel to the sergeant and tries to make conversation, but the sergeant wants to know why... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
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...going to kill some Nazis and find eggs. Kolya continues, saying that he'll make the colonel invite them to his daughter's wedding, and says he's truly in love with her and... (full context)
Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...off and asks Kolya if he's a deserter. Kolya explains that their papers from Colonel Grechko are in the house. Lev notices that one of the men next to Korsakov is... (full context)
Chapter 25
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sexuality, Masculinity, and Power Theme Icon
Lev and Kolya continue their march. Kolya declares that the colonel will invite them to his daughter's wedding, while Lev wonders where he's going to sleep... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
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Russia and World War II Theme Icon
...questions later, and the lieutenant threatens to kill him. Kolya offers the letter from Colonel Grechko to the officers, and they stiffen when they see the name. As Kolya prepares to... (full context)
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...him to the hospital at the Works. Kolya asks them to take Lev to the colonel after. (full context)
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...how much blood a man can lose, and Kolya instructs Lev to dance with the colonel's daughter. The car is held up several times and Kolya is growing weaker by the... (full context)
Chapter 26
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
At Colonel Grechko's mansion, a sergeant leads Lev through the house until they find Grechko in the wine... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Literature and Storytelling Theme Icon
Survival Theme Icon
Grechko says that they can now make fish pies, and instructs the soldier to give Lev... (full context)