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Inside The Third Reich: Memoirs by Albert Speer

1970 Inside The Third Reich: Memoirs by Albert Speer. Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston. This book is more than a superlative portrait of Adolf Hitler and a remarkable contribution to the annals of World War II.


Albert Speer, the Nazi Minister of Armaments and one of Adolf Hitler's closest friends, was the only member of Hitler's inner circle to escape the death penalty at the Nuremberg Trials, primarily due to his willingness to admit remorse and shame for his actions under Nazi Germany. Though he was obviously the most self-reflective and clear-eyed of the Nazis, his critics have continually challenged his claims that he was not aware of the full extent of the Holocaust, the death camps, and Hitler's "Final Solution."

After his release from prison in 1966, Speer released his memoir INSIDE THE THIRD REICH, and it quickly became an international bestseller. The book showed how Speer, an ambitious architect, rose in the Nazi party to become the man some referred to as "Hitler's wife."

The book also altered public perception of the Nazi power hierarchy, describing it not as an efficient machine, but as a squabbling, decadent, power-hungry court with everyone in it vying for Hitler's favor. Hitler himself comes across as charismatic, but lazy and out-of-touch with reality.

Of all the many larger-than-life characters in the book--the loathsome Göring, the hateful Goebbels, the vicious Himmler--it is Speer himself who becomes the most fascinating and troubling. He writes with such profundity and insight about the seductiveness of evil that it is difficult to not feel empathy with him, even as he admits to being responsible for slave labor camps, and contributing--wasting--all his youthful intelligence and energy to help create one of the darkest chapters in modern history.

INSIDE THE THIRD REICH stands alone in literature as a confession by an acknowledged monster, a mea culpa by a man with the blood of millions on his hands. By writing with such lucidity and feeling, Speer humanizes evil and provides a stark template for how ideology can lead to abomination. And instead of providing closure, INSIDE THE THIRD REICH seems to suggest that it is only a matter of time before such situations arise again.

Publisher's Note

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.

Albert Speer

Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (1905 - 1981) was an architect, author, and, for part of World War II, Minister of Armaments under Adolf Hitler, with whom he developed a strong affinity and personal relationship. His architectural style helped to define the Nazi aesthetic, and some of his best known designs include the German Pavilion for the 1937 international exposition in Paris and the Reich Chancellery, with many more proposed projects being put off for the future, as the war effort took priority of resources and attention.

At the end of the war Speer was one of many Nazi officials to be tried at the Nuremberg Trials, and he was one of the few officials to express remorse. He was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment, most of which he served at Spandau Prison in West Berlin. He went on the write another memoir, Spandau. The Secret Diaries - published in 1976.

Whatever one may think about Speers complicity in the crimes of the Third Reich, Speers memoirs endure as the most intimate look into the highest levels of the Nazi regime. Speer ends Inside the Third Reich on this poignant note: "The catastrophe of this war, I wrote in my cell in 1947, 'has proved the sensitivity of the system of modern civilization evolved in the course of centuries. Now we know we do not live in an earthquake-proof structure. The build-up of negative impulses, each reinforcing the other, can inexorably shake to pieces the complicated apparatus of the modern world. There is no halting this process by will alone.

The danger is that the automatism of progress will depersonalize man further and withdraw more and more of his self-responsibility. Dazzled by the possibility of technology, I devoted crucial years of my life to serving it. But in the end my feelings about it are highly skeptical."

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • LC Control No.: 70119132
  • Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
  • Personal Name: Speer, Albert, 1905-1981.
  • Uniform Title: Erinnerungen. English
  • Main Title: Inside the Third Reich: memoirs, Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston. Introd. by Eugene Davidson.
  • Published/Created: [New York] Macmillan [1970]
  • Description: xviii, 596 p. illus., facsims., plans, ports. 24 cm.
  • Notes:
    • Translation of Erinnerungen.
    • Includes bibliographical references.
  • Subjects:
    • Speer, Albert, 1905-1981.
    • Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945.
    • Nazis --Biography.
    • Architects --Germany --Biography.
    • Germany --Politics and government --1933-1945.
  • LC Classification: DD247.S63 A313 1970
  • Dewey Class No.: 943.086/0924 B
  • Language Code: eng ger
  • Geographic Area Code: e-gx---
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