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.
About the Author
Paul Steinberg was born in Berlin in 1926 and imigrated 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.
"The most powerful and important Holocaust account to be published in recent years."--Murray Schwartz, Professor of Writing, Literature and Publishing, Emerson College
"It is unlikely that there will be a memoir of more terse power than Paul Steinberg's Speak You Also, a testimony from within the chamber of evil itself that performs the duty of memory with a special kind of pain and meaning . . . An important and unforgettable document . . . The mystery deepens, why some men are beasts, why most are not, and how, to survive, one has to have a little of the beast in oneself. Steinberg's book is saturated with those questions, which haunted this unlikely author for decades and now, thanks to his remarkable little volume [will] haunt us as well."--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
"A searing philosophical memoir . . . In Speak You Also, which is eloquently translated from the French by Linda Coverdale with Bill Ford, Steinberg cryptically ravels and unravels his past . . . 'Perhaps I survived so that I might give an account, one of the very last, that is both passionate and serene,' he writes. 'A delivery, however long overdue, is still deliverance.'"--Susan Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review
"With brutal honesty and frightening self-examination, Steinberg dissects himself and forces readers to reexamine what mortality means in the face of unremitting horror."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)