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Albert Speer (1905–1981)

Autor(a) de Inside the Third Reich

22+ Works 3,481 Membros 44 Críticas 2 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146II-277, Fotograf: Binder

Obras por Albert Speer

Associated Works

The Sunflower (1997) — Contribuidor — 1,135 exemplares

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5829 Spandau The Secret Diaries, by Albert Speer, translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston, (read 29 Jan 2024) Speer was given a sentence of 20 years and served every minute of it. This is a record of his prison time. Surprisingly it is not bad reading if one has interest in what goes thru a mentally sharp mind for such a long time. Of course, Speer shows himself as having recovered from his fascination with Hitler--but admits, being infatuated by him until the war ended I was surprised to find myself eager to read this account.… (mais)
 
Assinalado
Schmerguls | 9 outras críticas | Jan 29, 2024 |
2023 - ‘70’s Immersion Reading Challenge

Spandau: The Secret Diaries by Albert Speer (1975 in German; 1976 1st English ed.) 463 pages.

To get into this book, I first had to do some intensive research into these 17 men who were in Hitler’s closest circle and were tried and convicted. Seven of them went to Spandau Prison, and ten were hung. I collected notes about each in a bullet journal, and printed thumbprint photos of each in their uniforms, on the job, and sitting in their cells at Spandau. I also printed death photos of the ones that were hung, which are online in Wikipedia.

Maybe it was my preparedness that made this book so interesting to read. This is about the 20 years, the day-to-day life, of Albert Speer while in Spandau Prison. He secretly wrote his notes in tiny print on toilet tissue and wore them underneath the insoles of his shoes until he could get them smuggled out of prison and to his wife. He then was having a friend type them up over the years, and when he was released exactly 20 years to the date, there were 20,000 typed pages for him to sort through for this book. He writes of his mental state, his relationship with Hitler, his love of architect, his gardening of flowers and trees, his walking tours around the compound, and notes on the other six prisoners. They were restricted to a cell of their own down one small hallway that was blocked off from entry to further entry inside this huge, then empty, prison.

Probably, what I felt the most about these men after reading and getting to know some of their traits and personalities is the fact that no matter how much they each nerved each other on a daily basis, towards the end when their time was up and, one by one, each were leaving the prison, it was the emptiness of that personality in the prison that worked on their psyche. When the last two left, only Rudolf Hess was left alone, whom Speer mentioned quite a bit in his diary. But, there was no followup on Hess, except during the last three days before Speer and Schirach’s release.

Schirach approached Hess for a little walk and talk in the garden. Speer overheard Schirach telling Hess that his only hope in getting out is to consistently play insane. But Speer disagreed. He then approached Hess to see if he had any commissions for him. Hess waved him off. Then Speer expressed doubts about Schirach actually delivering Hess’s messages to his family. This is when Hess blew up on Speer, hollering, “How can you suspect our comrade Schirach of such a thing! It’s outrageous of you to say anything of the kind. No thanks! No thanks to your offer!”

Speer later, the same day, went back to Hess and told him it was wrong to attempt to buy his release by pretending insanity. He would be undermining his own image, whereas now he was regarded with a certain amount of respect even by his enemies, and it was possible he would only be released to a mental institute. Hess agreed and told Speer that he wasn’t comfortable with Schirach’s advice anyway. As it turned out in the following years, Schirach never did visit Hess nor did he contact Hess’s son. But, it doesn’t say if Speer did either.

Rudolf Hess, after living for 20 years with these six other men, lived another 10 years alone in that prison before he hung himself in the garden house on August 17, 1987. He was 93 years old. This leads me to my next read, which is on the way, Prisoner #7: Rudolf Hess: The Thirty Years in Jail of Hitler’s Deputy Fuhrer by Eugene K. Bird (1974). Bird had a tour of duty as the Director of Spandau from 1964-1972. I’m left wanting to know more about Rudolf Hess and how he fared during those last 10 years.


**********END OF REVIEW************

NOTES AND THINGS TO REMEMBER


First, since I knew nothing of Spandau nor the Nuremberg trials, I needed to, at least, understand what they were:

1. Spandau Prison, under Russian jurisdiction, was a proto-concentration camp during World War II in West Berlin that, after the war, held seven top Nazi leaders convicted in the Nuremberg trials. The prison was situated in Spandau in western Berlin, constructed in 1876 and was initially a military detention camp, then became a civilian prison, holding upwards of 600 prisoners in 1919. It then became a precursor to the concentration camps. In 1933, the prisoners there were transferred to those concentration camps. In 1946, the prison was completely empty except for the 7 war criminals serving time. There was a monthly change of regimes keeping watch, first Russians, then Americans, then the British and lastly French to make sure the war criminals were treated justly. Spandau Prison was demolished in 1987 after the death of Rudolf Hess. Interestingly, according to Speer, when on watch duty, the Americans read detective stories, worked crossword puzzles and dozed; whereas the Russians studied chemistry, physics and mathematics, and read Dickens, Jack London or Tolstoy.

2. The Nuremberg trials were a series of 13 trials carried out in Nuremberg, Germany, in American jurisdiction but ruled with Soviet Union judges, between 1945 and 1949 to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. Nuremberg is 273 miles (or about a 4 hour drive) from Spandau.

The 10 War Criminals Convicted and Hung

During one of the 13 Nuremberg trials, these 10 of 17 war criminals were convicted on October 1, 1946 and sat in Nuremberg prison for two weeks until hung on October 16, 1946. All remains were cremated in the oven at Dachau concentration camp along with many other Nazi criminals and ashes scattered in Wenszach/Conwentsbach, a small stream in the river Isar in Munich:

1. Hans Michael Frank (1900 – 1946) (age 46)
(Hitler’s personal lawyer and Governor-General of Poland; confessed crimes publicly and became a devout Catholic)
Last words (came to hanging with a smile on his face): I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.
2. Wilhelm Frick (1877 – 1946) (age 69)
(Minister of the Interior who framed the Nuremberg Race Laws that “legalized” Nazi actions against the Jews; responsible for concentration camps in Bohemia and Moravia, Germany; 6th in line for hanging at 2:05am, six minutes after Rosenberg.)
Last words: Long live eternal Germany.
3. Herman Goring (1893 – 1946) (age 53) NOTE: Someone smuggled in cyanide into his prison cell just hours before his hanging. He committed suicide.
(2nd in succession behind Hitler; spent 2 years in a mental institute 1925-27; became a life-long morphine addict; directed the purge and elimination of Jews from German economy; before trials, he preached to other prisoners that they had to stick together so Hitler will remain a symbol of Germany instead of a murderer; he truly believed he, himself, would go down as a saint)
4. Alfred Jodl (1890 – 1946) (age 56)
(Chief of Armed Forces High Command – Hitler’s principal military advisor; signatures on Commando and Commissar Orders which ordered that certain classes of prisoners of war were to be executed upon capture; denied the 1941 mass shooting of Soviet POWs, claimed the only prisoners shot were “not those that could not, but those that did not want to walk”.)
Last words: I salute you my eternal Germany.
5. Ernst Kaltenbrunner (1903 – 1946) (age 43)
(Head of the Reich Main Security Office, which had principal responsibility for tracking down and exterminating the Jews. He controlled the Gestapo and concentration camps; had a brain hemorrhage during interrogation and had to be wheeled into court for his trials)
6. Wilhelm Keitel (1882 – 1946) (age 64)
(Field-Marshall of German forces; Supported wholesale massacres)
Last words: I now join my sons. Deutchland Uber Alles!
7. Alfred Rosenberg (1893 – 1946) (age 53)
(Philosopher of Nazi state; presided over a regime of massacre and mass slavery; was ridiculed by everyone…including Hitler for his philosophies; 5th in line for hanging six minutes before Wilhelm Frick)
Last words, when asked if he had anything to say: No
8. Fritz Sauckel (1895 – 1946) (age 50)
(Nazi minister for labor who trained 4 years under Hermann Goring)
Last words: I die an innocent man, my sentence is unjust. God protect German. May it live and one day become great again. God protect my family.
9. Arthur Seyss-Inquart (1892 – 1946) (age 54)
(Nazi Governor of the Netherlands)
Last words: I hope that this execution is the last act of the tragedy of the Second World War, and that the lesson taken from this world war will be that peace and understanding should exist between peoples. I believe in Germany.
10. Julius Streicher (1885 – 1946) (age 61)
(Anti-semitic journalist whose newspaper was main vehicle for “popularizing” Nazi attitudes towards Jews; stole large amounts of confiscated Jewish property; due to Hess’ persistence, Streicher had been dismissed from all party posts (p. 119); he was avoided by all other criminals during trial; he stayed devoted to Hitler to the bitter end)
Last words: Heil Hitler! This is the Purim festival of 1946.

The 7 war criminals convicted and sentenced to Spandau Prison in order of the number given them while in Spandau Prison:

1. Baldur von Schirach - 20 years, released same day as Albert Speer, after serving full term, on 30 Sep 1966
2. Erich Raeder - Life, released early 26 Sep 1955, due to ill health
3. Konstantin von Neurath - 15 years, released early Nov 1954, due to bad health
4. Karl Donitz – 10 years, released after serving full 10 years on 30 Sep 1956
5. Albert Speer – 20 years, released same day as Baldur von Schirach, after serving full term, on 30 Sep 1966
6. Walter Funk – Life, released early on 16 May 1957, due to bad health
7. Rudolf Hess – Life, died in prison on 17 Aug 1987. He was 93 years old when he hung himself. Last prisoner of Spandau.

Albert Speer worked 12 years under Hitler. He was first his Chief Architect (his first love) and then Armament Minister. He designed for the Nazi regime — the Nuremberg Zeppelin Field, the Reich Chancellery in Berlin (which was torn down by the Russians), and the German pavilion at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris. Albert was age 40 when convicted of abuse of forced labor.

While imprisoned, Speer studied up on language (French), architecture, book projects (his memoir, Hitler’s biography, history of windows), intense gardening (mostly flowers), and walking an around-the-world tour, which was a calculated timed walk around the gardens to imaginary places he studied and read about in books.

He would keep records to see how long it took to walk from place to place, across Europe, Asia and into the United States to Mexico. He walked about 50 to 60 kilometers a week 31-37 miles. In 10 years he had walked 25,471 kilometers , that’s 15,826 miles. By December 21, 1964, Speer passed Seattle, Washington, and entered the United States. By this time, several of the guards were intrigued and had begun walking with Speer. At times, four or five people could be seen walking on the track. Before his release on September 30, 1966, he had walked a total of 31,936 kilometers, that’s approximately 19,844 miles.

Although Speer didn’t disagree or reject with the 20 year sentence given him, one day he found himself disagreeing with the Nuremberg Tribunal’s interpretation and prosecutions in general on one particular subject: forced labor. He, along with the others, discussed the hypocritical way that he and others were charged with committing forced labor laws when those charging them were also forcing labor with German prisoners of war, also an international crime. (p. 50) There is one big difference Speer did not acknowledge…the fact that the Nazi’s used forced labor on not only prisoners of war, but on everyday citizens in every country they overtook, and even deported them to where they were needed. The Nazi’s also created laws to make this type of abuse “legal”. Speer accepted moral guilt, but had a hard time accepting legal guilt because, in his eyes, the Allies were doing exactly what the Germans were doing. According to Speer, Admiral Nimitz, the American Commander in the Pacific, even admitted to ignoring international agreements, thus being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of sailors, soldiers and passengers. (p. 54) As the years progressed, and he kept on top of the news around the world, in 1965, Speer was having a difficult time with moral clarity, as he was reading about Russian tanks in East Berlin, Indochina in flames, street-fighting in Budapest, Suez, Algeria, and again Indochina, which is now called Vietnam, and then millions of slave laborers in many parts of the world…How much more difficult it has become to accept within oneself the guilty verdict pronounced by those judges. All of this as the Auschwitz trials were just beginning. (p. 421)

Both Dönitz and Raeder carried on in great length about the injustice of their convictions because their subordinates were back at work for the German government while they sat in prison. But, even Speer admits he believed Hitler worked and warred within the norms of European tradition. Where he believed Hitler went wrong was with his insane hatred of Jews and made that a matter of life and death. (p. 353) Speer questioned whether he, himself, was actually loyal to Hitler, and to Germany, or was he just doing his “duty”. He may have contributed to slave labor, but he claims to have treated them well. Is there such thing as a “good” Nazi?

From 1954 forward, it seems the only thing on their minds was an early release. By the 10th year, three of the men had already been let go: Neurath, Raeder and Funk had early releases due to old age and bad health, and then the fourth, Dönitz, was released after serving his full 10 year sentence. Dönitz left prison full of pompousness, considering himself still with power and influence to get the remaining three, who had 20 years and lifetime sentences, out on early releases.

The men knew how important they were because of their intimate relations with Hitler and began writing their memoirs while imprisoned. But, according to Speer, their take contradicts what he wrote in his diary. Raeder claimed in his memoir that he was only close to and associated with Dönitz and Neurath, top commanders, when Speer wrote early on that Raeder and Dönitz were bitter towards each other the whole time, as Dönitz had replaced Raeder as Nazi Navy Grand Admiral. When Raeder was severely ill and depressed, it was Schirach who was by his side and who petitioned Berlin for an early release. Raeder didn’t want to ruin his reputation by admitting he hung with the lower class ”convicts”. (p. 319)

Also, in Dönitz memoir, even after specifically asking Speer if he recommended him to Hitler or was it Hitler, himself, who chose him to be the new Grand Admiral, wrote just the opposite of what Speer told him. Speer said Hitler had asked him how well of a leader was Donitz, and Speer replied that Donitz was a very good and strong leader. So, Hitler replaced Raeder with Donitz, who now blamed Speer for his imprisonment. Speer had an opportunity to read Donitz memoir while still in prison and said it was pretty trustworthy as far as his take on Hitler and the military armaments were concerned. But, Dönitz believed Hitler lost the war because he didn’t build up his supply of U-boats, that he, himself, had recommended; whereas, Speer believed Hitler lost the war because he was constantly changing his mind about where to send the armaments, which he, himself, was in charge of and had to deal with. (p. 333-35)

Three days before release, Schirach approached Hess, the last prisoner, for a little walk and talk in the garden. Speer overheard Schirach telling Hess that his only hope in getting out is to consistently play insane. But Speer disagreed. He then approached Hess to see if he had any commissions for him. Hess waved him off. Then Speer expressed doubts about Schirach actually delivering his messages to his family. This is when Hess blew up on Speer, hollering, “How can you suspect our comrade Schirach of such a thing! It’s outrageous of you to say anything of the kind. No thanks! No thanks to your offer!”

Speer later went back to Hess and told him it was wrong to attempt to buy his release by pretending insanity. He would be undermining his own image, whereas now he was regarded with a certain amount of respect even by his enemies. Also, he could be released to a mental institute. Hess agreed and told Speer that he wasn’t comfortable with Schirach’s advice anyway. As it turned out in the following years, Schirach never did visit Hess nor did he contact Hess’s son.

BOOKS TO LOOK INTO

Inside the Third Reich (1969). Albert Speer’s memoir.

Prisoner #7: Rudolf Hess (1974) OR The Loneliest Man in the World: The Inside Story of the 30-Year Imprisonment of Rudolf Hess (1974) by Eugene K. Bird, Director of Spandau Prison from 1964-1972.

The Ribbentrop Memoirs by Joachim von Ribbentrop (1954)
AND My Father Joachim von Ribbentrop: Hitler’s Foreign Minister, Experiences and Memories by Rudolph von Ribbentrop (2008)

Han’s Frank’s Diary by Stanislaw Piotrowski and Hans Frank (1955 in Polish; 1957 in English)

Memoirs: Ten Years and Twenty Days by Karl Dönitz and David Woodward (1958)

My Life: Grand Admiral Erich Raeder by Erich Raeder (1960)

Ich Glaubte an Hitler [I Believed in Hitler] by Baldur von Schirach (1967) Not available in English.

Hitler as no one knows him: 100 Pictures from the Life of the Fuhrer by Baldur von Schirach and Heinrich Hoffmann (Photographer) (1938; and in English poss. 1998?)

The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Roper (1947). Hugh had asked Speer to read it, while in prison during the first year, and give his opinion on it as it was partially based on Speer’s accounts.

Albert Speer: The End of a Myth by historian Matthias Schmidt (1981). Details Speer’s carefully constructed myth of innocence.

Albert Speer by Magnus Brechtken (2017). Describes how Speer denied his role in the Holocaust

MOVIES

Downfall (2004) Film industry stands by Albert Speer’s innocence as “the good Nazi”. They portray Speer and other cabinet member’s of Hitler in favorable light

Documentary: Speer Goes to Hollywood (2021). Depicts Speer as the war criminal that he was with video interviews, footage from the Nuremberg trials, pictures of the concentration camps and scenes from the Nazis' armament factories that he was in charge of.
… (mais)
 
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MissysBookshelf | 9 outras críticas | Aug 27, 2023 |
 
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David.llib.cat | 29 outras críticas | Dec 27, 2022 |
I read it years ago. Did not know he lied about a lot, but I'm finding out now !
 
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kslade | 29 outras críticas | Dec 8, 2022 |

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