SPANDAU: The Secret Diaries by Albert Speer

SPANDAU: The Secret Diaries

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Albert Speer spent 20 years, from 1946 to 1966, as a Nuremberg war criminal in Berlin's Spandau prison. Despite having to write this diary on the sly, he was extremely well treated. In jail Speer quickly lost interest in the outside world: in 1953 he records that he has never wondered what East Germany is like. He maintains his upper-middle-class, faintly ironic character in all its ""normality"" as Americans and Germans (John McCloy, George Ball, Adenauer, Niemoeller) constantly try to get him released. The diaries add to Speer's impressions of Hitler, the Third Reich, and art. He makes it clear that he was never a technocrat, but a romantic reactionary with a knack for organizing wartime needs and an underlying contempt for humanity. Speer is often viewed as the closest thing to a ""good Nazi,"" a dazzled architect who became a patriotic military overseer. He admits that he was the ""employer of an army of slaves"" after he enthusiastically ""gave [Hitler] the backdrop for his acts of mass hypnosis."" He also remarks that Hitler didn't go ""beyond the norms of European history"" except for the Jews, and Speer himself was no anti-Semite. His self-presentation as an urbane professional betrayed by his emotional confidence in Hitler may lull some readers into forgetting his complicity in genocide. But the book itself is a remarkable document for psychological speculation and attention is inevitable.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1975
ISBN: 4871878791
Publisher: Macmillan