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Review of Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich Essays

Review of Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich
Introduction
     Albert Speer held a unique position, not only in Hitler’s Third Reich, but also in telling the history of it.  Seen by many to be Hitler’s heir apparent had the Reich survived, upon the demise of Hitler and his evil empire, Speer lived to tell about his experiences, as seen in his book, Inside the Third Reich, written by Speer after having served his prison term.  This research will discuss several key aspects of Speer and his pivotal work.

An Assessment of Speer’s Qualifications for Writing this Book
     Many times, those who write historical memoirs are no more qualified to do so than the reader of the book itself.  However, Albert Speer was infinitely qualified to write his book for several reasons.  First, Speer was a part of Hitler’s inner circle, serving as a key planner for the activities of the Third Reich as Hitler’s power began to grow, which is important due to the fact that not all of Hitler’s officers gained direct access to him due to the Fuhrer’s growing paranoia and insecurities.  Also, Speer had the kind of heritage that made him an excellent choice for a key post in Hitler’s regime, having grown up in a well to do family, being highly educated, and having matured into somewhat of an intellectual[1].

The reasons Speer found Hitler Appealing
     In the late 1930s, Albert Speer attended a speech that Hitler delivered, and as Speer claims, he was captivated by Hitler from that point until Hitler degraded into a mentally unstable maniac by 1944-1945[2].  Initially, Speer claims in his book to have found Hitler appealing because the National Socialism that Hitler advocated stood in direct opposition to Communism and seemed to Speer to be an attractive alternative to allowing his native Germany to fall under Communist control.  As a means of clarifying his position and in order to defend himself, Speer claims in his book that he was unaware of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, which, as will be seen in subsequent portions of the research, is all but impossible.  Nonetheless, Speer claims that he gravitated toward Hitler not because of his underlying paranoia and prejudices, but because of his activism and seemingly burning desire to save Germany at a time of vulnerability and economic chaos.

Speer’s Position on His Own Responsibility for What Occurred in Hitler’s Germany and a Statement on How Contrite the Researcher Believes Speer to be
     The consideration of Speer’s own responsibility for the occurrences of Hitler’s Germany and his level of contrition for the same can be found from a study of Speer’s own words, from his own book.
     Strangely enough, Speer views himself as a sort of selective participant in the Third Reich.  As will be discussed shortly, the evidence of Speer’s involvement in the key events of the Third Reich are hard to refute, but in his own mind, Speer served the Reich but was not responsible for the worst crimes that the Reich ultimately committed.  As a specific example, this quote from Speer’s book is presented:
“After my first experiment in opposing Hitler, I had become more independent in my thinking and acting. And Hitler, instead of being enraged, had seemed only rather perplexed by my new attitude and tried to propitiate me, even to the point of retracting a decision he had made with Himmler, Goering and Bormann. Although I too had given way, I had learned the valuable lesson that a resolute stand against Hitler could achieve results. Nevertheless, even this episode did not shake my faith in Hitler[3].”
     What is seen in this telling quote is a lack of contrition, simply because Himmler does not feel that he had done anything wrong because of his self-guided autonomy in following his own conscience rather than blindly following orders and moreover, still held a deep faith in Hitler.

A Discussion Assessing How `Responsible` or `Guilty` the Researcher Believes Speer to be for What Occurred in Hitler’s Germany
     In the opinion of the researcher, Speer was highly responsible and guilty for the happenings of Hitler’s Germany from several different points of view.  During Speer’s years of service to Hitler, in Speer’s coordination of the renovation of large public buildings to become factories and his assistance in the later staffing of these factories, he saw, first hand, that the factories had essentially become slave labor hubs, where Jews, Poles and others were literally worked to death.
     Another damning piece of evidence against Speer can in fact be seen in the level of knowledge he maintained of the inner logistics of the Third Reich and its daily operations.  In this capacity, Speer oversaw, among other details, the operation of the railroad system within Hitler’s Germany and the lands that the Nazis conquered.  As such, it is highly unlikely, in the opinion of the researcher, that Speer did not know that dozens of trains were being diverted for the transportation of Jewish men, women and children to death camps.
     Lastly, it is very hard to imagine that Speer was unaware of Hitler’s Final Solution, which basically entailed the extermination of those groups of individuals that he felt were inferior, most notably Jews by the millions.  The Solution was introduced at a 1943 conference that Speers attended, but he claims to not have been involved in when the Solution was presented by Heinrich Himmler.  However, Speer and Himmler had a close relationship, and regardless of Speer’s involvement in Himmler’s meeting, Speer certainly knew of such a massive plan, created by a close confidant and professional peer.

An Assessment of the Most Valuable Contributions the Researcher Believes Speer Makes to Our Knowledge of Hitler and Nazi Germany (also, an indication of what is unique about his contributions to our knowledge and understanding of Hitler and Nazism)
     In conclusion, in the writing of Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer made some valuable contributions to our knowledge of Hitler by dispelling a popular myth that occurrences like the Final Solution could have happened without Hitler’s knowledge.  From Speer’s writings, we see that this was simply not the case.  In fairness, however, it is apparent that at least at the outset of Hitler’s reign, Speer honestly believed that Hitler and Nazi Germany stood as an opposition to the evils of Communism and widespread starvation of the German people, but sadly, a new brand of evil, courtesy of Hitler and his minions would soon take shape.  Also, what is unique about Speer’s contributions to our knowledge and understanding of Hitler and Nazism is that the Hitler and Nazi party that many followed in 1939 was vastly different from those of 1945 and by that time, most people had abandoned both, giving us, in closing, an impression that not all Nazis followed the party line, nor the Furher to the end, showing us that some opposition to Hitler’s unique evil existed and maybe Speer was part of that opposition as well.

Bibliography

Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster

[1] Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster

[2] Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster

[3] Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster, p.345.

 

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