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Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth

– tekijä: Gitta Sereny

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

Sarjat: Terzo Reich

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
7921820,710 (4.16)12
Gitta Sereny first saw Albert Speer on trial at Nuremberg. Over the last years of his life she came to know him - through hundreds of hours of conversations - as no other biographer has known a Nazi leader. She interviewed as well the people around him - the celebrated, the notorious and the ordinary. Speer gave Sereny, for her use, a number of unpublished manuscripts, and after his death she obtained access to many of his papers. Out of her probings a huge, and hugely alive, portrait emerges. Sereny takes us through the emotional desert of Speer's childhood and marriage, through his embrace (basically, she demonstrates, for nonideological reasons) of the Nazi Party and his service as Minister of Armaments and Munitions, during which his brutal use of slave labor extended a lost war. She superbly portrays the circles in which Speer functioned: the ambivalent General Staff and the infinitely peculiar and nightmarish upper echelons of Nazism.We see Speer accused of war crimes at Nuremberg, and during his twenty years in Spandau prison, struggling to accept individual responsibility for his actions. Throughout, in person or in memory, Hitler is startlingly present, his friendship with Speer bordering on love. Sereny shows us Speer as inveterate schemer, as spectacular planner and maneuverer. We see him also as unique among Hitler's men in the integrity of his battle with conscience. His progress from moral blindness through moral self-education to a torturous coming-to-terms with his own acts - this is the elemental matter at the heart of a book that stunningly illuminates the man, the war, the Third Reich, the Nazi mind and the complex comingling, in one person or society, of good and evil.… (lisätietoja)
Viimeisimmät tallentajatyksityinen kirjasto, AlleghenyCounty, czackwaltz, Grimjack69, jwhite101, klm1, Smsw, KnihyNaProdej, philayres
  1. 10
    Diktaattorin työkaluna (tekijä: Albert Speer) (schatzi)
    schatzi: Speer's personal memoir of the Third Reich, including his role in it
  2. 10
    Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder (tekijä: Gitta Sereny) (schatzi)
    schatzi: another book by Gitta Sereny, this one dealing with Franz Stangl, kommandant of Treblinka and responsible for nearly 1,000,000 deaths
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 18) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
What they call 'a real page-turner'. An in depth look into the life of one of Hitler's top advisors + his dealing with the past during later life. Many interesting details of his work + encounters with key figures from the dark days of WWII.
  clfbooks | Feb 23, 2020 |
Albert Speer, "Hitler's architect" and the Minister of Armaments and War Production (after his predecessor's death in 1942), is the only high-ranking Nazi official who accepted, really, any blame for the Third Reich's systematic slaughter of the Jews, Poles, Romanis, Russians, political dissidents, etc. Somehow managing to escape with his life after Nuremberg, he spent twenty years in relative solitude, writing his memoirs (which were published as Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries) and proclaiming that, although he was a high-ranking official in the Nazi Party and admittedly one of Hitler's closest acquaintances (Hitler, according to many, never had "friends" in the traditional sense of the word), he had no idea what was going on in eastern Europe.

This book is a masterpiece of intellectual biography. There's also a critical review of Speer's architecture; much of it overscale and ghastly but with a few successes such as the Cathedral of Light. Sereny worked closely with Speer on the book, though he had no input into its content or structure. Her prose has great moral weight. She readily exposes Speer's rationalizations and half-truths, his prevarications and denials in the most direct and meaningful way. Speer squirms under her scrutiny. There is the sense that he knows he has to cooperate, that he knows his Spandau memoirs lack crucial insight and rigor.
1 ääni MasseyLibrary | Mar 9, 2018 |
Albert Speer, "Hitler's architect" and the Minister of Armaments and War Production (after his predecessor's death in 1942), is the only high-ranking Nazi official who accepted, really, any blame for the Third Reich's systematic slaughter of the Jews, Poles, Romanis, Russians, political dissidents, etc. Somehow managing to escape with his life after Nuremberg, he spent twenty years in relative solitude, writing his memoirs (which were published as Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries) and proclaiming that, although he was a high-ranking official in the Nazi Party and admittedly one of Hitler's closest acquaintances (Hitler, according to many, never had "friends" in the traditional sense of the word), he had no idea what was going on in eastern Europe.

I mainly read this book because I "enjoyed" (I find it difficult to say that I "enjoyed" reading a book about the near-eradication of European Jews, but I can't think of another word at this time to describe how I felt about this book) Gitta Sereny's "Into that Darkness," which I read for a college course about the Shoah (Holocaust) in 2002 (and I really must reread at some point in the future, since my knowledge base has increased dramatically since then). She had no problems putting Franz Stangl's "alternative facts" (to use a more modern term) to examination, and I was expecting something similar here (she was, I would argue, a bit "softer" on Speer, at least partially, I believe, because she developed a genuine fondness for the man).

The book is huge - 720 pages of text, not including picture inserts and the author's notes in the back - and it's dense. There were times that I could only read a few pages before setting the book aside to digest what had been discussed or revealed.

Of course, I have a vested personal interest in Nazi history; my grandmother was the only direct family member to survive the Shoah, and that is because her mother scrounged up enough money to send her to England in 1938 to live with a host family there via the Kindertransport, where she would live until 1946 (when she married my American grandfather). My great-grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles, their children, etc - entirely gone, and to this day, we do not know what happened to all of them exactly - all killed because they were Jewish, except for my great-grandfather, who was primarily killed (and early - 1933) because he was a Communist (although I am sure being Jewish, although a secular Jew, did him no favours). All of this colours my perceptions and how I interpreted this book - you are forewarned. ;)

I suppose, approaching this, my question was - why? Why did this man - who was from a well-to-do family (although he had a bitterly unhappy, unloving childhood) and well-educated and, by all accounts, well-spoken and intelligent - fall in with Hitler? Why did so many like him follow Hitler into fascism? I believe this is especially important at this time in history, because it looks like other countries (including my own America, unfortunately) are tipping closer to fascism in this modern era.

And the book doesn't answer this. Speer himself cannot answer this, really - he just saw Hitler speak and found him very charismatic, so he signed up without much thought. And considering how, well, thoughtful Speer was, this seems strange. It almost feels as if there WAS some other reason that Speer either does not wish or CANNOT discuss - because, as Sereny demonstrates throughout the book, Speer had constructed in his mind the type of man he was and wanted to be, and nothing that interfered with this construction could be examined. Much of Speer's "battle with truth" is Speer battling with himself, trying to make his past conform to this idealized version of himself that he held until his dying day.

And what was this version of himself that he wanted to present to the world? He was primarily an architect, interested in creation and not destruction (this, at least, is believable). He was a Minister in Hitler's government, but he knew NOTHING about what was happening to the Jews. He knew little about the horrible conditions that the "foreign workers" were held under, even though his Cabinet oversaw the forced labour, which was used in war production (these two things I find unbelievable, as does, I am certain, Sereny, who says as much in the last full chapter, entitled "The Great Lie.") And he was repentant of his role, whatever it was, in the deaths of millions - which, even at Nuremberg, he stated that he accepted co-responsibility for, as a member of Hitler's government (none of the others on trial did that).

As a biography, I think this does a good job of showing Speer's life, from birth to his untimely death. As an examination of his culpability, however, Sereny, as I already mentioned, allows her friendship with Speer to colour her perceptions at times, and she is quite kind and delicate with her approach to asking the "hard questions." I am not calling for this to portray Speer as a one-dimensional war criminal; he wasn't, and I would never argue that he was, one-dimensional. However, I wish that she would have pushed him a bit more with the tougher questions, which he often attempted (rather successfully) to sidestep. Perhaps it was impossible for Speer to admit, even to himself, that he acted as anything other than exemplary; he seemed very invested in portraying himself as quite the perfect gentleman.

In the end, although few believe him, Speer states that he was never aware of what was happening in eastern Europe (in his own words, he didn't WANT to know, and so he didn't) and he spent a great deal of time and energy trying to disprove those who would present any evidence to the contrary. And he also stated that he never held any antisemitic views; in comparison to the rabid antisemitism held by Hitler and his followers, Speer's antisemitism is quite muted, although he stated in a letter that he "really had no aversion to [Jews], or rather, no more than the slight discomfort all of us feel when sometimes in contact with them" (p. 90).

But no one apparently played a role in the Shoah, at least according to most of the statements and memoirs pumped out by former Nazis. No one in Germany knew (even though the Allies knew by 1942 what was happening in eastern Europe); no soldiers knew; no one in the SS knew; no one in leadership knew. When presented with evidence to the contrary, then everyone was "just following orders." So Speer's denials give a false ring, because nearly everyone denied their involvement in the Shoah to save their own skins. Speer's denial, therefore, sounds like more of the same.

The parts of the book I found most interesting were the ones that dealt with Speer's time in Spandau prison; how he got along (or didn't) with his fellow prisoners. He seemed to "watch out" for Hess, which was a little surprising, considering that Hess was a devout Nazi. It was also interesting to read how Speer spent his time; he read quite a bit, wrote over a thousand pages in a year (the draft for Inside the Third Reich), smuggled out letters to various friends and family members, etc.

It was also interesting to see how Speer's family viewed him. His wife, Margret, whom he married when they were both young and with whom he had six children, stuck by him through everything - but there was a huge block between them, almost feeling as if they were two strangers. And Speer's reserved nature and penchant for becoming a workaholic distanced himself quite a bit from his children, who didn't know how to relate to this virtual stranger. It was actually quite sad to read about Speer's loveless childhood, in which neither his mother nor father particularly cared for him, and to see that he, although he didn't wish it to be so, visited the same on his own children. He cared about them, in his own way, but he just couldn't quite convey that to them, leading to the complete emotional estrangement from his children.

And the children and Margret are the ones I feel sorry for most in this book (besides, of course, the innocent victims of Hitler, but I mean on a personal level). Margret, especially, stood by Speer through everything - twenty years of worry with him in Spandau, raising six children virtually on her own (although with monetary support from Speer's friends - many of whom would also become estranged from him in later years, because Speer insisted on calling Hitler a criminal and defected from the latent Nazism of that generation) - only to have him take a mistress in England, which he didn't bother to hide from her, and to be informed of Speer's fatal stroke from said mistress, who was with him at the end. What a slap to the face for her.

As for Speer, I have no doubt that he knew, at least partially, what was happening in the east. He saw the conditions at a forced labour camp, which upset him greatly; surely he didn't think that the Jews, who were blamed for anything and everything, were faring any better in their camps. There was a speech at Posen, delivered by Himmler, which Speer may or may not have been present for (he argues, of course, that he was there earlier in the day but NOT during Himmler's speech) - but even if he wasn't present, surely he heard murmurings about things later. Even in the most dictatorial states there are whispers, unrest, secret information passed along the vine - I find it completely impossible that he didn't, at least, hear SOME of this.

Speer battled with truth for the entirety of his post-Hitler life, but truth did not win out in the end. Speer, with his regimented self-control, triumphed, even telephoning the author about how he did fairly well with his life, considering. He did give a good portion of his earnings from his memoirs to Jewish charities (anonymously). He did form friendship with religious men (Catholic, Protestant, and yes, even Jewish) and tried to become a better man. He did give numerous interviews, both televised and in print, talking about his collective co-responsibility for what Hitler did. But, in the end, Speer could not face the complete truth and admit that, yes, he knew; he couldn't bear facing THAT truth, and so he never did. ( )
3 ääni schatzi | Feb 26, 2017 |
Norimberga, 1946: Gitta Sereny assiste dalle tribune del pubblico al processo contro i principali gerarchi nazisti. Tra gli imputati, un uomo giovane, l'unico ad ammettere una responsabilità per le colpe di cui si è macchiato il nazismo, pur sostenendo di non aver saputo nulla della Shoah. Quell'uomo - che il tribunale condannerà a vent'anni di carcere - è Albert Speer, architetto di talento del Terzo Reich, amico e confidente di Hitler. Anni dopo, un singolare legame si instaura tra l'autrice e Speer, che accetta di rispondere alle sue domande e ripercorrere con lei la sua storia, condividendo le sue carte, i suoi ricordi, la sua visione. In una biografia serrata, dietro la quale non smette di agitarsi la domanda fondamentale sul mistero del male e della persecuzione, Gitta Sereny ricostruisce la vicenda politica e umana di un uomo controverso, alla ricerca delle ragioni profonde e contraddittorie del più grande crimine del Novecento. ( )
  BiblioLorenzoLodi | Nov 10, 2015 |
Austria 1938: un paio di giomi dopo l'annessione da parte della Germania nazista. la quindicenne ungherese Gitta Sereny si scaglia contro le camicie brune che nel centro di Vienna stanno umiliando un gruppo di ebrei: qualche giorno più tardi anche Albert Speer l'architetto degli immani progetti edilizi di Hitler. si trova a Vienna per preparare la sala dove il Fuhrer incontrerà i suoi nuovi sudditi: non nota nessun sopruso e anzi si compiace del tripudio degli abitanti. Francia 1940: la giovane Sereny, volontaria in un orfanotrofio, ostenta tutto il suo disprezzo nei confronti degli occupanti nazisti: Speer all'alba del 28 giugno, accompagna Hitler in una visita turistica della Parigi conquistata. Norimberga 1945: la Sereny segue dalle tribune del pubblico alcune udienze del processo contro i principali gerarchi nazisti: la colpisce. tra gli imputati. un uomo giovane. con folte sopracciglia scure. straordinariamente attraente. l'unico che ammette una responsabilità generale per le colpe di cui si è macchiato il nazismo. anche se sostiene di non aver saputo nulla dello sterminio degli ebrei: è Speer, che il tribunale condannerà a vent'anni di carcere. Londra 1977: quando Gitta Sereny pubblica sul «Sunday Times» una confutazione delle tesi revisioniste dello storico inglese Oavid Irving. è proprio Speer che le scrive da Heidelberg per manifestarle il suo caloroso apprezzamento. Fu cosi che inizia il singolare rapporto (che diverrà qualcosa di molto simile all'amicizia) tra l'autrice dell'opera più agghiacciante sui campi di sterminio e l'uomo che forse più di ogni altro era stato vicino a Hitler: l'uomo che aveva messo a disposizione del Fuhrer tutto il suo talento, ma che alla fine della guerra. si era prodigato. a rischio della vita. per contrasta"re i suoi folli progetti di «terra bruciata». ( )
  BiblioLorenzoLodi | May 23, 2014 |
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Albert Speer, lo stesso uomo che ho conosciuto bene e a cui mi sono a poco a poco affezionata, avrebbe potuto benissimo essere impiccato nella notte tra il 16 e il 17 ottobre 1946;
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Gitta Sereny first saw Albert Speer on trial at Nuremberg. Over the last years of his life she came to know him - through hundreds of hours of conversations - as no other biographer has known a Nazi leader. She interviewed as well the people around him - the celebrated, the notorious and the ordinary. Speer gave Sereny, for her use, a number of unpublished manuscripts, and after his death she obtained access to many of his papers. Out of her probings a huge, and hugely alive, portrait emerges. Sereny takes us through the emotional desert of Speer's childhood and marriage, through his embrace (basically, she demonstrates, for nonideological reasons) of the Nazi Party and his service as Minister of Armaments and Munitions, during which his brutal use of slave labor extended a lost war. She superbly portrays the circles in which Speer functioned: the ambivalent General Staff and the infinitely peculiar and nightmarish upper echelons of Nazism.We see Speer accused of war crimes at Nuremberg, and during his twenty years in Spandau prison, struggling to accept individual responsibility for his actions. Throughout, in person or in memory, Hitler is startlingly present, his friendship with Speer bordering on love. Sereny shows us Speer as inveterate schemer, as spectacular planner and maneuverer. We see him also as unique among Hitler's men in the integrity of his battle with conscience. His progress from moral blindness through moral self-education to a torturous coming-to-terms with his own acts - this is the elemental matter at the heart of a book that stunningly illuminates the man, the war, the Third Reich, the Nazi mind and the complex comingling, in one person or society, of good and evil.

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