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by Albert Speer

Speer, the Minister of Armaments and War Production under Hitler, the man who had kept Germany armed and the war machine running even after Hitler's mystique had faded, takes a brutally honest look at his role in the war effort, giving readers a complete view of the inside of the Nazi state. Photos & illustrations.
Download Inside the Third Reich epub
ISBN: 0751504920
ISBN13: 978-0751504927
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Politics & Government
Author: Albert Speer
Language: English
Publisher: Time Warner Paperbacks; New Ed edition (February 7, 1994)
Pages: 830 pages
ePUB size: 1192 kb
FB2 size: 1561 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 858
Other Formats: lit doc azw mbr

It’s been decades since I read Albert’s Speer’s memoir, Inside the Third Reich (1970), and felt the need to read it again after researching the German war effort for more than a decade. When I first read this book, the emphasis was upon gaining insight into Hitler’s inner circle since there were still many aspects of the Third Reich that were not well known. That was then. Now, decades later, we have a much better understanding of the inner workings of the Third Reich and Speer’s memoirs are but one piece. Furthermore, Speer’s prison-inspired mea culpa back in the 1970s seemed like the unvarnished truth – which is how he represented it – but this is not so evident upon further reflection. It’s now clear that Speer was intent upon ‘spinning’ his story a certain way, to make himself appear to be a more sympathetic and credible witness to history. After re-reading his memoirs, I’m not so sure that his effort to depict himself as a ‘prodigal son’ who believes in a common humanity was any more than a clever effort at historical white-washing. In any case, Inside the Third Reich remains an interesting read from someone who was a key decision-maker in leading Germany’s war effort.

Speer’s memoirs begin by taking us on his journey from young architect to his initial contact with Hitler in 1933. Hitler’s plans for aggression. Of course, Speer was trying to distance himself from any connection to Hitler’s war-mongering, although it is implausible that he was unaware of it before September 1939. I also find it odd how Speer barely mentions his wife or children or other relatives throughout 500 pages of text; they are only mentioned in passing, but many minor Nazi party functionaries get paragraph after paragraph. Speer’s mother joined the Nazi party, but it gets but brief mention. I also thought that Speer was an established architect when he first met Hitler but in fact, he really was a novice straight out of school with virtually no paid work to his credit. Speer does point out that Hitler was genuinely popular with much of the German populace because he delivered on his early promises about the economy. The author readily admits that he fell under Hitler’s spell and became a willing follower; Hitler reciprocated by praising Speer’s rather pedestrian style and giving him various ad hoc tasks to fulfil. Speer’s only complaint in the 1930s was that the Nazis didn’t always pay him for his work but when he saw the wreckage inflicted by Kristallnacht, all he could say was that “the smashed panes of shops offended my middle class sense of order.” Speer wasn’t blind to Nazi excesses; he was a moral idiot, like so many of Hitler’s followers.

Moving into the war years, Speer makes interesting observations about Hitler’s unwillingness to put off the reconstruction of Berlin even after the war in Russia had begun. Instead, scarce resources and labor were diverted away from war production for these prestige projects, which highlights that dictatorships are not necessarily more efficient at war-making. This wastage continued until December 1941, when the defeat at Moscow finally forced some scaling-back of civilian construction programs. By this point, Speer began making a name for himself as a hard-working improviser by helping to restore the railroads in occupied Soviet territory. Indeed, he positioned himself so well that Hitler made him Minister of Armaments in 1942. Speer, in fact, was very astute about working his way upward in the Nazi hierarchy in order to gain more power and prestige for himself – just like the other Nazis were doing.

Speer does have some useful things to say about the German war effort. He says that air defense took significant resources away from production devoted to ground weaponry, but faults the Allies for not repeating attacks on damaged industrial facilities. He also notes the total mismanagement of labor resources and he points the finger at Nazi party officials for refusing to cooperate with releasing people to work in war industries. He also apportions a large share of blame to Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring, who had his fingers in everybody’s pie; Speer describes Goering as very intelligent but lazy and he managed to screw up every project that he touched. The role of the SS and Gestapo is also addressed, and it is amazing to hear that the rocket scientist Werner von Braun was arrested by the SS in 1944 for making remarks about civilian use of space. Speer’s conclusion is that the German war effort was mis-managed from the start due to personal agendas and empire-building within the Nazi hierarchy. Of course, Speer omits how any of his personal agendas and empire-building may have contributed to this mess, as well.

Speer’s rationale is weird at times, particularly when he refers to Hitler’s “magnetic power” over him and another times he claimed that Hitler “paralyzed him psychically” which of course is intended to absolve Speer of personal responsibility – he had no choice. Yet other Germans could see Hitler’s evil and were not paralyzed – why was Speer different? He lamely refers to a half-baked attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1945, but says it failed due to altered security measures. It’s clear that this non-effort, which nobody else could corroborate, was inserted to belatedly cast Speer into the ranks of those who opposed Hitler. This of course is nonsense, since Speer loyally hung in with Hitler to the end, as if he had some kind of man-crush on him; in reality, he was always looking for crumbs from Hitler’s table – praise or new authorities. Ultimately, Speer was a talented conniver who put his own ambition first and Hitler was his venue for achieving his dreams. Speer lamely concludes that, “for twelve years, I had lived thoughtlessly among murderers,” as if he was merely a house-guest.
I read this book, in paperback, many years ago and it 'stayed with me' (i.e. was not forgotten). I am an Engineer (now retired) and it was early-on in my career when I first read the book. Engineers and Architects (Speer's original vocation) can have a lot in common and I think that at least some of the 'draw' that the book has had on me is that it gives me (and I believe any Engineer) the opportunity to see the temptations that Speer was exposed to and ask "What would I have done ?".

This particular purchase was due to a desire to have a hard-back copy (larger size than the old paperback of years ago) and I am looking forward to working my way through the book once more (it has been so many years since I last read it that I suspect that at least portions will seem new).
Haven't committed to reading a book in years. I love history, especially WWII, and decided to give this one a try. I will admit I was quite intimidated by the size of this book initially at 500+ pages, but once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. I've gotten more out of this one book than all the documentaries I've watched in my lifetime. The commonly held reality is that the Nazi's came very very close to winning the war. While I still believe that, I've learned now that the real reason they lost is because of the poor leadership in their system. The sick, selfish, and wasteful nature of those with power is vividly illustrated in this document. I now thank God that Hitler didn't take his men in command seriously. Had he been more down to earth, the world would be a different place.

Some have debated whether or not Albert Speer should have hanged. Did Speer paint himself as a saint in this book? We can speculate one way or the other forever as to the guilt of the man. Honestly his eternal fate rests between him and the Almighty. I feel that his story shows how far a normal person can get sucked into something because of their blind ambition.

I just wish I would have been made to read this in school instead of Harry Potter and the Catcher in the Rye. Teachers take note!
Well written and informative. Covers a lot of ground regarding Hitler’s personality and major character flaws. Speer often comes across as disengenuine regarding his role and complicity concerning the war. Here he claims absolute ignorance regarding the Holocaust. Twenty years is a pitifully short sentence for a major player in Nazi Germany, and this book does nothing to redeem his actions.
Fantastic look into Hitler's inner circle. I fully expected this to be Speer's "I didn't know what was happening" statement, but it is surprisingly objective and he makes no excuses for how he was drawn in by Hitler's magnetism and risen through the ranks of the Reich. His vivid descriptions of Hitler's personalities, which he both admired and was appalled by at times, are fascinating. A must read for anyone interested in the psychology of how seemingly normal, intelligent people were turned into killers, or at least collaborators. I also highly recommend "Hitler's Last Secretary" by Traudl Junge (who was in the bunker with him when he shot himself) - and the German movie on which it's based - "Downfall". Between the two books, you feel as if you are there, and get an understanding of how powerful Hitler's hold was on the non-military everyday German citizen.
An amazing read. We have so little evidence from the leaders of the Nazi regime themselves (due to their suicides or executions post-war). Albert Speer provides us with an inside look at Hitler's regime. The best part is, he assumes guilt for his role in the war machine. Rather than make excuses for himself and his actions, he tells the truth and has lots of self-awareness.