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am 24. Juli 2000
After watchiing the not-so-hot Nuremberg movie on TNT, I was once again fascinated by all things WWII, and particularly by the "good Nazi", Hitler's architect, Albert Speer, whose life was spared in the trials -- instead he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. This book chronicles with a seemingly honest voice the years leading up to the war, the war itself, and in particular of Speer's strangely remote friendship/comradery with "his Fuhrer". Hitler emerges in this book as more human than we usually give him credit for; still, as the author admits, his descent into power-mad horror is inhuman at best. This book is most troubling as an eyewitness account -- and, even in its "honest" retrospect -- of an entire people's willing ignorance of the evil brewing in their very backyard, all in the name of personal success, comfort, achievement at last. The Germans were so thirsty for a period of relative calm that they welcomed Hitler and embraced his butchery, all the while pretending they did not know what was happening...I am not sure it is entirely convincing, to imagine that Speer, not only the architect of Hitler's new vision for Germany, but eventually too his Master of Armaments, for God's sakes, was so indebted to his leader for his achievements in professional life that he simply DID NOT KNOW what was happening in places such as Auschwitz...this is a deeply troubling memoir, but, even in the moral questions it raises, deserves to be read as a first-person chronicle of life with the most horrifying world leader in modern times.
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am 23. November 1997
Inside the Third Reich is a "must read" book for anyone interested in World War II or Nazi Germany. As Hitler's Minster of Armament and War Production, Albert Speer's memoirs provide firsthand information on the German leadership and war efforts during this period. The book covers events from his early childhood to his imprisonment in Spandau Prison, as a Nazi war criminal. In the course of telling his own story, Speer also provides valuable insights into other key players in Nazi regime, such as Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, Martin Borman, Karl Doenitz, Joseph Goebbels, Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler, and many other high-ranking Nazi leaders.
Albert Speer served under Adolf Hitler for over 14 year and was one of Hitler's closest associates during most of that period. As Speer testified at Nuremberg, "If Hitler had had any friends, I would certainly been one of his close friends." Speer initially served as one of Hitler's architects and later as the Minister of Armament and War Production. Sharing a passion for design and architecture, Speer quickly impressed Hitler after completing several projects in record time. In the pre-war period, Hitler was obsessed with constructing monumental builds that would characterize Germany as the great "1,000 year Reich" that he envisioned. Having proven his ability to successfully manage complex projects, Speer used these same talents to make himself indispensable as the head of all Germany armament and production efforts in support of the war. Many of the principles he used over fifty years ago, are very similar to the quality initiatives used today. Sharing a passion for architecture and proving his management acumen, Speer was quickly accepted to Hitler's inner circle.
Following the end of the war, Speer wasone of the only Nazi's to take responsibility for his part in the war crimes. Albert Speer wrote Inside the Third Reich in an attempt to come to grips with his part in the Nazi atrocities of WW II. His statement that "only the truth could accelerate the process of cutting free from the past," provides some insight into his motives for publishing these memoirs. To set the stage, Speer describes how he was lured by Hitler's charisma, drawn into the struggle for power, and how an environment of secrets and intrigues all led to his failure to realize the crimes that were committed during the war. Even at the very end of the war, after he was thoroughly disgusted with Hitler and had overtly countered many of Hitler's direct orders, Speer claimed he still felt as if he was under Hitler's spell. Speer explains how in those last days he was still thrilled when Hitler would treat him as one of the inner circle.
As a rather young man, Speer was awarded positions ofpower and prestige, working directly for the most worshipped man in Germany--and he owed all of this success to this man, Adolf Hitler. Hitler was like a savior to many of the post-World War I Germans, and Speer had the opportunity to be one of is closest associates. However, with these rewards, Speer was also lured into his own ultimate downfall. Thus Speer stated, "I owe him the enthusiasm and the glory of my youth as well as belated horror and guilt."
At the Nuremberg trials, Albert Speer was charged specifically with the crime of organizing forced labor to work in the production of German war materials. In his defense, Speer claimed that while he was aware prisoners were being used for forced labor, he was not aware of the other atrocities being committed, such as the Jewish holocaust or the inhumane treatment of the prisoners. He also claimed the German people, in general, should not be judged for what the government alone was responsible. Speer stated that while all government officials should be held responsible for fundamental matters, they should not be held responsible for the details which were not in their control. I interpret this to mean the government should be held responsible for establishing the environment in which the crimes were committed, but only the actual offenders should be held accountable for their individual crimes.
In the conclusion of the book, Speer posts a warning for future governments not to fall into the same trap as Nazi Germany. He warns that in an age of technology it is easy for a dictator to commit crimes and breed corruption. He states technology allows a dictator to easily hide his actions and motives, more efficiently conduct his crimes and intrigues, and allows direct communication, surveillance, and control over his subjects.
To build his case, Speer draws heavily on his own experiences and records, as well as, official records found in the Federal Archives in Germany. Numerous excerpts from daily journals, photographs, and policy memorandums add to the credibility of his text. However, I am obligated to warn the reader of potential inaccuracies. First, I believe it is only human nature for an individual to portray themselves in a favorable light, especially an individual that has been accused of some of the worst crimes in history. Speer himself admits in several cases that he lied to Hitler, the court at Nuremberg, and to others in order to protect his position. Additionally, Speer talks about his involvement in various intrigues to gain/protect his power--thus we could assume that he may also have been compelled to cover his role in more important matters that could have lead to his execution. To look at both sides of this debate on credibility, we can turn to two books written about Albert Speer.
In Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, Gitta Sereny takes a more psychological approach in her investigation of Speer's participation in the war crimes. While Sereny provides evidence that Speer was probably lying about several situations, she also discusses the possibility that Speer repressed memories of certain atrocities, which later emerged after the war. When drawing our own conclusion, we must also keep in mind that Sereny apparently had developed a close friendship with Speer in the course of her investigations.
At the other extreme, in Matthias Schmidt's Albert Speer: The End of a Myth, he claims to provide evidence of Speer's knowledge of the concentration camps and extermination of the Jews. He also provides numerous discrepancies in both Speer's testimony and in his memoirs. Matthias goes on to claim Speer actually attempted to suppress various documents that surfaced after his release from prison, that confirmed his knowledge and participation in the deportation of Jews. Matthias also paints Speer as a ruthless and power hungry person that was well aware of the crimes being committed. This picture of Speer is quite the opposite of that portrayed by Sereny or even by Speer, himself--as a "respectable Nazi" that was lured into Hitler's trance.
Apart from this accuracy debate, there are two final cautions to the reader. First, Inside the Third Reich provides an enormous amount of detail on the architecture, buildings, and idle tea-time with Hitler. These details may tend to fatigue the reader, especially if they are not an architecture enthusiast. Second, the book is not organized in strict chronological order. While the book generally follows his life, each chapter actually covers overlapping timeframes, which may cause the reader to lose track of a particular sequence of events.
In general, Inside the Third Reich is an excellent book that provides not only an autobiography, but also several biographies into one book. This book is sure to give the World War II enthusiast great insights into this period in world history. Although there may be an abundance of details on architecture and afternoon tea with Hitler, there are also valuable historic accounts of the effects of allied bombing on the German war machine and Speer's effective efforts to continue a high rate of production.
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am 10. April 2000
Albert Speer spent exactly 20 years in Spandau prison after the fall of Germany and his subsequent trial at Nuremberg. He was alone amongst those high-ranking Nazis who were closest to Hitler, to escape execution. To say that for a certain amount of time, his life hung very much in the balance would be putting it mildly. Yet thanks to the failure of the Russians, who wanted him dead, Speer lived on and produced this remarkable memoir of a world gone mad. One hardly thinks that any other single Nazi could have produced a document as worthy of our attention. How curious the fates are.
Part of what kept Speer alive at the end of the war was a certain identifiable integrity, which comes through in the book. Perhaps he is also masking certain people and shielding us from the absolute truth of certain events, but in the main, one senses he is concerned with the truth and is not afraid of it being revealed. It may be a small thing to say that his greatest accomplishment as a Reich minister was to prevent Hitler from completely paralysing Germany in the final months and weeks. Yet I think it is indicative of his character, which therefore reassures us about the worth of this book, that he bit the bullet at the end, and refused to participate any further in what had clearly become the final ranting of his erstwhile belovèd Führer. One should definitely read Speer for a further appreciation of the subject matter, to round out any non-German sources. I think we can be quite happy that he did not, in the end, get the chop.
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am 3. August 2011
Albert Speer, one of the most puzzling figures of the Nazi regime (what was such an educated and intelligent man doing amidst a bunch of thieves and rogues?), puts down his memories of his time in the thick of it all in this comprehensive book. His memory of events is prodigious and offers a vivid picture of those tumultuous times. Amateur history enthusiasts as well as academic students of the field will find these memoirs a rewarding read. Speer pulls no punches in describing how Hitler led Germany to inexorable decline and disaster through promises of power and glory, all the while holding nothing in his mind but power for himself and something bordering on contempt for the German people. Speer not only takes readers along with him on the ill-fated ride through the Third Reich but also impresses upon them the intrigues, machinations, ego struggles and corruption that beset it and doomed it from the start.

The deceptive part of the book is with respect to Speer's knowledge of concentration camps and of the treatment meted out to labourers (mostly foreign) of his armaments factories. Speer prefers to blame Fritz Sauckel for the nature of procurement, and treatment, of the labour force and went to his grave in 1981 denying any knowledge of what was going on in places like Auschwitz. Later revelations proved he was as bad as the rest of them. This makes you reluctantly admire his writing skill, for he comes across as the reluctant Nazi who tried his best to remain above it all. We know now that he was a cultured and intelligent monster but a monster nevertheless; but while reading his memoirs, the impression made is that of an efficient technocrat doing his job in a crazy world and trying to be a good man.

One of the most interesting and valuable books in the innumerable books written about the Third Reich and well worth the time invested in its nearly 700 pages.
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am 9. Januar 2000
I first read 'Inside the the Third Reich' at age 19 and the message of this book has been with me ever since. Quite simply it is a true fable of evil corrupting good. Throughout Speer's early account one almost feels that this could be anyone, at anytime. Only as world events change at an astouding pace around him, are we reminded that Speer lived in a Germany that was soon to be the home to one of the greatest evils the world had ever known. Speer tells us of the fateful night he first heard Hitler speak, and how he joined the Nazi party bare hours later. The portrait Speer paints of Hitler is not one of the evil demegouge that history would prove him to be, but rather one of an inspired leader who was doing all he could to lift his nation out of economic ruin and national despair. It was this illusion that Hitler projected that allowed good and honorable men, like Speer, to be corrupted. This is an entertaining book for any amatuer historian, and more, a very important one for anyone who wonders how a nation of philosiphers, and Christians, aritists and engineers, could sell it's very soul to evil.
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am 16. Juli 1999
Albert Speer's memoirs describe already known facts from un unusual point of view: readers witness the 'climax' of one man's career on Nazi dictatorship setting. Speer describes himself and the world around him, trying to defend his choices as made in good faith, just thinking about the safe of his Nation: howerver his search for success emerges among the tragedy, and , maybe, readers could think even his defence is just another, desperate, attempt to save a fragment of his success. I am sure he loved his Homeland, but I am sure he loved his career too, this blinded him in front of Hitler's fool purposes. This is really a good book to better understand something of the German Intellighenzia in 30's, and to understand how did how learned and intelligent men gave theirselves to Adolf Hitler.
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am 19. Mai 2000
I find the subject of the Nazi party and how they destroyed Germany interesting. Having read books like William Shirers "The rise and fall of the Third Reich", I felt this book would give me more of an insiders view and who better than a survivor of the Nuremburg trials to write it?
Speer spends some time giving us his personal history, but moves on quickly to his first meeting with Hitlers and his invovlement with the Nazi party. His career was quite remarkable. His rise was legendedary. However, I walked away feeling as though he hadn't told me everything.
During and after the trials at Nuremburg, many people felt that Speer had saved himself by "accepting" responsibility for his actions and more or less thrown himself at the mercy of the court. He does a little of this in the book, but it isn't convincing. He comes across like too much of a goodie-two-shoes. "Yes, we did this, but I had no idea how bad it was until afterwards".
Still, it fills in a lot of information about the events not reported in the press and in subsequent publications. It's worthwhile reading the book and at the end you can't help feeling that perhaps he got away with something that he took with him to the grave.
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am 12. August 1998
Inside The Third Reich is a fascinating book that removes and or reinforces previous stereotypes of Nazi Germany. The most enlightening aspect of the book is the rise to power of Hitler explained by someone who was not a brute of the regime. While Speer's intellectual abilities and his use of them surpassed the more physical and brutal contributions of others (Himmler, Bormann, etc.) his ability to use his intelligence had the most far-reaching impact on Germany's ability to conduct war.
As someone who has never been drafted or participated in war, it is hard for me to imagine a life without freedom and opportunity. The book's description of the conditions out of which the Reich came to power is the most interesting. He was able to describe the poor economy, the joy of the people at seeing Germany rebuilt, the trust that was earned by creating jobs and pulling the economy out of depression via a "necesary war". Many people forget that the inter-war pe! riod was one of shame and suffering for the German people at the hands of Europe. Hitler gave Germans confidence in an incremental fashion, through gainful employment, cohesive messages trumpeting German strength and superiority (also party rallies), and tangible results of German strength (buildings, tanks and even uniforms). All of these things and more were quietly pointed out in the book in a fashion that gained even my admiration of Hitler's charm and charisma. Most importantly, it gave me a sense of where and how the Third Reich could have happened and how it ultimately ended.
The book is very long and at times overly detailed. But that only lends to makes it stronger and more significant as a historical document on the era. It is a must read for the avid fan of Nazi Germany.
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Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich" presents a historical view of daily events within the highest ranks of the Nazi power structure. He is able to humanize the Third Reich to a chilling degree, since he demonstrates again and again how little different these men were from many men. The very ordinariness of the high ranking German officials presents the reader with a vivid illustration that this could happen again!
Albert Speer may have a bit of self-interest in his presentation of events through his own eyes, but the most striking sense of the book is that he is, in fact, an extremely likeable man, and a man of thoughtfulness and conscience. His personal struggle to accept the wider meaning of his wartime activities demonstrates the capacity of a decent man to be swept away in indecent activity on the basis of personal pride in a job well done, a personal search for recognition and admiration, and an all too human ability to see through blinders for a very long time.
When we see some of the events currently taking place in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, especially in places where there is considerable ethnic cohesion and substantial economic distress, we see once again a fertile field for a drift into human atrocity. Given the locally accepted concepts that German people were "special" as well homogeneous, that perpetuation of the ecomonic reorganization of Germany was critical to a return to tolerable life, and that the return to pride in self and nation would allow all Germans to lift their heads once again, Albert Speer took his place among others of talent and energy. They made a goverment and an economy WORK.
The sad fact that the Third Reich was led by a lunatic, who became even more insane and maniacal as time went by, was partially an accident to history.
Many good men, especially bright young men, follow a leader in the wrong direction, and later come to defend their wrong choice of leaders in part from loyalty, and in part to explain themselves to themselves. They cannot see that their emporer has no clothes because they are too close to him, and because they cannot bear to look at the fact that they were duped.
Eventually, realization comes, but often far later than it would have if they had not been totally embroiled already.
After I read Albert Speer's book, I admired him for coming forward to present his personal story of a man who did it all wrong, but who owed himself and humanity an account, and paid it.
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am 20. Oktober 1999
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn of the inner workings of the Third Reich. Albert Speer Gives an up close and revealing view of the Nazis' rise and destruction, and the folly of becoming enamered with Hitler. Fortunately it was Hitler and not Speer in charge of the Nazi war machine. This is a book worth reading by any WW2 history buff.
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