Cover image for Speak you also : a survivor's reckoning
Speak you also : a survivor's reckoning
Steinberg, Paul.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Chronique d'ailleurs. English
Publication Information:
New York : Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co., [2000]

Physical Description:
163 pages ; 22 cm
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Corporate Subject:
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Call Number
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Item Holds
DS135.F9 S7413 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DS135.F9 S7413 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS135.F9 S7413 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In 1943, sixteen-year-old Paul Steinberg was arrested in Paris and deported to Auschwitz. A chemistry student, Steinberg was assigned to work in the camp's laboratory alongside Primo Levi, who would later immortalize his fellow inmate as "Henri," the ultimate survivor, the paradigm of the prisoner who clung to life at the cost of his own humanity. "One seems to glimpse a human soul," Levi wrote in Survival in Auschwitz , "but then Henri's sad smile freezes in a cold grimace, and here he is again, intent on his hunt and his struggle; hard and distant, enclosed in armor, the enemy of all."

Now, after fifty years, Steinberg speaks for himself. In an unsparing act of self-examination, he traces his passage from artless adolescent to ruthless creature determined to do anything to live. He describes his strategies of survival: the boxing matches he staged for the camp commanders, the English POWs he exploited, the maneuvers and tactics he applied with cold competence. Ultimately, he confirms Levi's judgment: "No doubt he saw straight. I probably was that creature, prepared to use whatever means I had available." But, he asks, "Is it so wrong to survive?"

Brave and rare, Speak You Also is an unprecedented response to those dreadful events, bringing us face-to-face with the most difficult questions of humanity and survival.

Author Notes

Paul Steinberg was born in Berlin in 1926 & immigrated to France at the age of seven. Deported to Auschwitz in 1943, he was the only member of his family to survive the war. After liberation, Steinberg returned to Paris, where he lived until his death in 1999.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Steinberg, who died last year, was born in Berlin in 1926 and emigrated to France with his family when he was seven. In 1943 he was arrested in Paris and deported to Auschwitz. After surviving the horrors there for 15 months, Steinberg was among 8,000 prisoners forced to evacuate the camp ahead of advancing Russian troops. His survival in Auschwitz was due in part to his ready grasp of situations, his ability to make quick decisions and adapt himself, and his capacity to distance himself from the appalling events that he witnessed. Steinberg, a Jew, was immortalized as Henri in Primo Levi's memoir, Survival in Auschwitz (1961). In Speak You Also Steinberg says that his "plan is to navigate among the remaining little islands of memory . . . to fish for the scraps of recollection that will rise from the depths." This is a work of brutal honesty, essential to understanding the meaning of survival in the barbaric world of the Holocaust. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

In If This Is a Man, Primo Levi describes Henri, a fellow inmate at Auschwitz, as a strategist of survival: flattering, stealing and endlessly manipulating the kapos and other prisoners for his own survival. Levi's empathy is challenged as Henri instills in Levi "a slight sense of defeat" and the fear that Levi has been "not a man to him, but an instrument in his hands." Now, 40 years later, SteinbergDthe "Henri" of Levi's bookDhas written his own memoir, which is both an answer to the other man's work and an explanation of his life and actions. Written in spare, highly unsentimental prose not unlike Levi's, balancing stark, horrific descriptions of life in the camps with self-critical meditations on the very purpose of writing such a memoir, Steinberg's book stands as a shocking rejoinder to Levi. Detailing his arrestDhe was a brilliant 16-year-old student in France when he was deported to AuschwitzDand his life at the camp, Steinberg describes himself as crossing the "gulf that separates adolescence... and adulthood" by deciding to "become a player in the game": "that cold and calculating creature singled out by Levi." Unrelenting in his descriptions of his plans for survivalDbefriending and sharing choice food with a brutal camp kapo, using violence against an elderly Jewish inmate to reinforce Steinberg's own position of security, and lying about being JewishDthe author is unapologetic for how he survived. With brutal honesty and frightening self-examination, Steinberg dissects himself and forces readers to reexamine what morality means in the face of unremitting horror. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In 1943, the Berlin-born Steinberg was deported to Auschwitz. There, he worked beside Primo Levi in the camp laboratory, enduring disease and evading death time and time againDsometimes by ruthless means. The only member of his family to survive the camps, Steinberg purposely wrote this book 50 years later so that time might help ease the pain of his memories, but he realized that he still struggled with the way the camps had affected him. This guilt of surviving stayed with him up to his death in 1999. While many Holocaust books confine themselves to that time period, Steinberg's reflection on how Auschwitz changed the rest of his life makes this a valuable work. Steinberg's writing is also extremely moving in its poetic simplicity. Recommended for all public libraries and Holocaust collections, as well as for fans of Primo Levi, who wrote about Steinberg.DJill Jaracz, MLIS, Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Apprenticeshipp. 3
Digression Ip. 13
The Last Fightp. 17
The Life and Death of Philippep. 29
Digression IIp. 61
The Black Holep. 65
The Last Salonp. 75
One Sunday in Springp. 87
The Big Bluffp. 97
Digression IIIp. 103
The Verdictp. 107
The Slapp. 121
Digression IVp. 129
Funeral Marchp. 133
The Last Lapp. 145
Hindsightp. 157