Page 106. " I know that Henri is living today. I would give much to know his life as a free man, but I do not want to see him again "

Paul Steinberg was placed in the same work detachment in Buna Monowitz as Levi, and was the person behind the character of 'Henri.' In France, Steinberg hid his Jewish identity during the Nazi occupation. But in September 1943, at the age of 16, he was denounced and arrested. He was interned in the transit camp at Drancy, where he formed a close and mutually supportive group with other boys his age. They were all deported to Auschwitz on October 7, 1943. Steinberg was the only member of the group to survive Monowitz.

In the camp, Steinberg was able to use his youth, language skills and powers of manipulation to flatter and cajole, eliciting extra food and favours from camp guards, doctors and fellow inmates. 

After surviving the camp evacuation, he succeeded in passing himself off as a political prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp, thus avoiding deportation with the remaining 1,200 Jews, all of whom were killed. After the American liberation of Buchenwald, Steinberg returned to Paris. He married, had children, and worked in business for nearly 40 years.

Fifty years after liberation, Steinberg's account of the camps was published under the title Speak You AlsoSteinberg died in 1999, three years after his book's publication.


Page 118. " Canto of Ulysees "

Canto 26 of Dante's Inferno tells the story of his encounter with Ulysses – the Latin name of Odysseus, a legendary king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. In the eighth ring of the eighth circle of hell, reserved for counsellors of fraud and sins of malice, Ulysses walks wrapped in flame as punishment for the schemes and conspiracies that won the Trojan War. Ulysses tells the poet about his final voyage and death. He recounts his passage beyond the pillars of Hercules into oceans unknown and towards lands unexplored. Ulysses recounts his final speech to his men, in which he exhorted man's purpose as the pursuit of virtue and knowledge.



Considerate la vostra semenza:


fatti non foste a viver come bruti,


ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.


This is translated by Stuart Woolf (Levi's English translator) as:


Think of your breed: for brutish ignorance

Your mettle was not made; you were made men,

To follow after knowledge and excellence.


 The Odyssey on Book Drum

Page 122. " One prisoner in two was Hungarian, and Hungarian had become the second language in the camp "

A transport of Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz
Public DomainA transport of Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz
With the deportations from Hungary, the role of Auschwitz-Birkenau as a key instrument in the German plan to murder the Jews of Europe became paramount. In three months, between late April and early July 1944, approximately 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, around 426,000 of them to Auschwitz. The SS sent approximately 320,000 of them directly to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and exploited approximately 110,000 as forced labour in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex. They then transferred many of these Hungarian Jewish forced labourers, within weeks of their arrival in Auschwitz, to other concentration camps in Germany and Austria.