Heinrich Steinitz

1879 (Bielitz, Silesia) - 1942 (KZ Auschwitz)


"Just as my heaviest tear is about to fall, I see how God, in truly Godlike fashion, turns away."

Heinrich Steinitz was born in Bielitz (Bielsko), Silesia on 30 August 1897, the son of a doctor. He studied law in Vienna and obtained his doctorate in law in 1902. His literary activity began in 1905 with poems, dramas and novellas. He passed the judicial examination and was admitted to the bar in 1910 as an independent attorney. In 1914 he entered military service, in 1916 was incarcerated in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp. There he organized cultural events for his fellow prisoners. He fled Russia in 1918 and returned to Vienna via Sweden.

During the war he wrote his Lyrisches Tagebuch ("Lyrical Diary"), which has survived only as a typescript. After the war he published various works on social, marital and tenancy law. He joined the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria. Out of a love for culture he bought a bankrupt bookshop and organized informal "salons" on cultural issues at his home. In the 1930s he had contact with Stefan Zweig and Thomas Mann. In 1933 he was a founder member of the Vereinigung sozialistischer Schriftsteller ("Society of Socialist Writers"), and wrote Das Spiel um August Bebel for the twentieth anniversary of the death of August Bebel. As of 1934 he was a defence lawyer in criminal proceedings against illegally working and imprisoned socialists. His book Tilman Riemenschneider im deutschen Bauernkrieg ("Tilman Riemenschneider in the German Peasants' War") was published in 1936.

Heinrich Steinitz was arrested in Vienna on 14 March 1938 as a "political" and a Jew. He was taken to Dachau Concentration Camp in May and transferred to Buchenwald at the end of September 1938 where he worked in the sock-darning, gardening and latrine detachments. He wrote sonnets, which a co-inmate put to music, and performed them in the camp.

On 17 October 1942 Heinrich Steinitz was deported to Auschwitz and murdered at the end of October / beginning of November.