Albert Speer

Albert Speer : The End of a Myth

3.72 (29 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 148 x 218 x 30mm | 480.81g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • German
  • Ill.
  • 0245542442
  • 9780245542442

Review Text

Some have always been skeptical of Albert Speer's self-portrayal - at Nuremberg and in his best-selling memoirs - as an "apolitical technocrat" who nonetheless took "collective responsibility" for Nazi crimes: the blind specialist who had seen the light. Now, from records in the possession of Speer's closest associate, and other researches, German historian Schmidt (Free Univ. of Berlin) sets forth Speer's verifiable role in the Nazi hierarchy and his literary strategems to conceal it. The documentation is damning, the account stinging. "Although academic life in Berlin [1928-31] was constantly disrupted by student riots, Spear the autobiographer can barely remember the heated political atmosphere he was working in. Indeed, he trivializes it: 'Our Institute of Technology had in the meanwhile become a center for National Socialist endeavors.' " Did he join the Nazi Party in 1931 as a formality? Schmidt quotes his contemporaneous, "Here were new ideals, a new understanding, new tasks," and his subsequent claims to be "an early struggler for the Nazi ideology." Was he just-an-architect? If anything, he built more grandiosely than Hitler imagined; with his organizational flair, he stuck to deadlines "the Fuhrer had called impossible." And, out of their common interests and goals, their shared timidity and aloofness, the two became friends. (Schmidt writes persuasively, almost affectingly, of the relationship.) In 1942, Speer accepted the crucial and vulnerable post of Minister of Armaments and Munitions on assurance of Hitler's support. By 1943, "he wanted to be appointed Hitler's successor." After the 1944 assassination-attempt, he was "unequivocal" in his support of Hitler; and, like Hitler, he harangued his compatriots to hold out to the last. Did he, then (as he later claimed), plot to kill Hitler with poison gas in the war's final days? Schmidt finds such fantasies possible but ludicruous - as do others outraged or amused by Speer's Nuremberg testimony. The Nuremberg episode is fascinating for what we learn of Speer's maneuvers to save his neck; more revelatory, however, is how he "organized his survival" in Spandau: the network that supported his family (and preserved his fortune), that smuggled out his writings and smuggled in caviar. (Only, he insisted, fresh beluga.) This was directed by the longtime associate who, in disillusion thereafter, became Schmidt's #1 source. Concluding with Speer's protestations of ignorance about the Holocaust, Schmidt pronounces him a "pragmatist and tactician of the first rank" - a conclusion his evidence amply warrants. (Kirkus Reviews)
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29 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 24% (7)
4 38% (11)
3 24% (7)
2 14% (4)
1 0% (0)
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