Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth
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Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth

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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  727 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Albert Speer was not only Hitler's architect and armaments minister, but the Fuhrer's closest friend--his "unhappy love." Speer was one of the few defendants at the Nuremberg Trials to take responsibility for Nazi war crimes, even as he denied knowledge of the Holocaust. Now this enigma of a man is unveiled in a monumental biography by a writer who came to know Speer intim...more
Paperback, 757 pages
Published October 29th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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William
This book is a masterpiece of intellectual biography. If you have an interest in WWII or National Socialism--especially the operational aspects of the war for Speer was head of war materiel toward the end--this is the book for you. If you have an interest in the twisted mind of Hitler, with whom Speer was about as close as another human could be, this is the book for you. There's also a critical review of Speer's architecture; much of it overscale and ghastly but with a few successes such as the...more
KOMET
Late in 1989, when I was living and working on contract overseas, I read Albert Speer's book Inside the Third Reich, in which he described, in extensive detail, the blossoming of his career, first as Hitler's principal architect throughout the 1930s and the early war years, and later as der Führer's Minister of Armaments and War Production from 1942 to 1945. He and Hitler (who fancied himself an architect given his lifelong passion for art and architecture) had a uniquely special relationship. I...more
Erik Graff
Sep 04, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nazi fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Prior to reading this biography I read Speer's autobiographical books Inside the Third Reich and Spandau. Much of the material in this work repeats material found in those volumes, but it is framed within the context of the ethical issues involved and the final years of Speer's life.

My interest in Nazism is, in part, an interest in the beliefs behind it. These beliefs were openly parochial. The German nation adopted, by election(!), a arete ethic which rated excellence above individual human liv...more
Toby
One of the best books I have ever read. I dip into it each year. Speer's battle with 'truth' is everyone's because Sereny is interested in very human question and goes after the answers with heart, intelligence and devastating patience.
Davida
For all of you out there who are fascinated by the mystery surrounding the character of Albert Speer, this is definitely the book to read.

I consider myself as one of those people who cannot think of Speer as the cunning Nazi who got away with it. Neither could Gitta Sereny the author of this book. It is a fact that this book will not provide you with answers, it will give you a lot of details, based on actual documentary evidence, and you will have to reach your own conclusion.

I obviously refer...more
Cynthia Karl
This fascinating book is more than a biography of Albert Speer. It explores his motivations and behavior; the author interviewed Speer extensively as well as many, many others including family that knew Speer. I'm glad I had read Albert Speer's memoir "Inside the Third Reich" first because it gave me a picture of how Speer viewed his participation in Nazi Germany. I was concerned that this book would be repetitive and the author does refer to his memoir but not too extensively; in some instances...more
Harry Smith
I was born a generation after Speer but I fought in the Second World War, as a member of the RAF, and in its aftermath I was a part of the allied occupation forces stationed in Hamburg. I think I can safely say that I am familiar with the brutality and evil the Nazis wrought against their enemies. When the Nuremberg Trials were conducted I was in Germany, and when Speer was spared the death penalty by the court, I thought he had got off lightly, considering his orchestration of Germany's slave l...more
Dylan Horrocks
Fascinating in all sorts of ways, of course, but one aspect of this book that's stayed with me is Sereny's exploration of that grey area between knowing and not knowing. The main question asked is: how much did Speer really know about Nazi atrocities - and how much would he admit he knew? Sereny pursues those questions doggedly, with one eye on the hard reality and another on Speer's willful refusal to face up to that reality.

Only once in the whole book (if I remember rightly) does she expand th...more
Anne
Excellent! A very fine writer and sharp mind takes on one of the most intelligent and fascinating nazis. And much, much more. I especially like the parts where she interviews some of his contemporaries, it broadens the perspectives on both the man himself, the ideology and the ideas and minds of a lot of people of the era.
I come closer to some understanding of how so many people could follow such an ideology and such a man as Hitler and how it could go so far and so horribly wrong.

A little funny...more
Michael
Nov 03, 2009 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historians, Students, War buffs, history teachers
Recommended to Michael by: Trevor Blake
Albert Speer remains one of the most fascinating men involved in the National Socialist regime, not least because of the two excellent memoirs he published after his detainment in Spandau for war crimes. Speer was in demand during the sixties and seventies as a speaker, and was the only war criminal to create for himself a successful media career after the war. This was not least because, rather than denying the crimes of the regime, he accepted them, accepted society's judgment of them as crime...more
Joy
At about a quarter into the book:
I watched Inside the Third Reich for the first time in years, and when I found myself still thinking about it the next morning I decided it was time to read this. (I have already read and admired INSIDE THE THIRD REICH and THE SPANDAU DIARIES, and didn't want to reread them this time). Aside from an excess of armchair quarterbacking, this is excellent so far. In spite of her instinctive condemnation, Sereny is making a sincere effort to understand this complex ma...more
Evan
A very good book that delves deep into the psyche of one Albert Speer: A brilliantly intelligent though naive man, emotionally unavailable, Nazi architect, Closest confidant and soul mate of Hitler... and a tragically sympathetic figure who semi-undeservedly took the burden of guilt for all Nazi crimes when no others would and bore them on his shoulders until the day he died.

Or at least that's what the author of this book seems to be saying. Or is that really just what Albert Speer wanted her to...more
Brian V.
Whatever one thinks of the "good Nazi," Albert Speer, he is a very important historical figure. As Gitta Sereny's fascinating book points out, Speer seemed a legitimate tortured soul post-Nuremburg. He was only one man but a unique one in the Nazi hierarchy for his intelligence and incorruptibility, so far as his lifestyle was concerned.

He was a flawed and insecure young man when Hitler took a liking to him. He fell deeply under Hitler's sway and der Furher clearly was attached in some way to Sp...more
Melody
This is a long haul, but I couldn't put it down. As someone who has not a shred of organizational ability, i found the author's attention to detail and execution of the book to be mind blowing. I can't even begin to imagine the work that went into its production. She's an excellent writer and very perceptive. I was never much of a student of WWII so a lot of the material was new to me which made this all that much more interesting.
I never dreamed I'd find a nazi to be a sympathetic figure but I...more
Tom
I thought Sereny did an admirable job of walking a very careful line between creating a complex, human portrait of Speer, as opposed to a one-dimensional image of an evil war criminal, and yet not letting him off the hook regarding his own "general" but less than forthcoming "confession" of complicity in the Holocaust. She gently but insistently prods him to admit he knew more than he let on at Nuremburg trials, creating a gradually building narrative tension equal to any excellent novel. This i...more
Martin Empson
This is a stunningly well researched, detailed and readable account of one of the key figures in Hitler's Germany. Sereny attempts to explore the very notion of culpability. What did it mean to be part of the Nazi leadership? How much did any individual know about what was happening?

The book itself is over-flowing with information. Many of the pages force you to stop and think. The subject matter itself is difficult and painful. By examining the consequences of Hitler taking power, through the l...more
Veni Johanna
I've always been fascinated by Albert Speer's enigmatic persona - I absolutely love Spandau Diaries, but I feel that he's 'painting' a portrayal of himself that I don't quite buy in that book. This book does a wonderful job in framing Speer's two other books in terms of his own moral questioning, but it doesn't give much more factual information about Speer if you have read Inside the Third Reich and Spandau Diaries. However, excerpts of Sereny's conversations with Speer alone make this book wor...more
Lysergius
Speer was one of the few defendants at the Nuremberg Trials to take responsibility for Nazi war crimes, even as he denied knowledge of the Holocaust. Now this enigma of a man is unveiled in a monumental biography by a writer who came to know Speer intimately in his final years. Out of hundreds of hours of interviews, Sereny unravels the threads of Speer's personality: the genius that made him indispensable to the German war machine, the conscience that drove him to repent, and the emotional woun...more
Noel
Excellent account of Speer and his ilk from a tumultuous period of recent history. Informative, complex and wide-ranging historical work, Sereny researchs her subject well interviewing many of the key figures around the Nazi elite. Speer comes across as a complicated upper class German under the spell of Hitler's forceful personality. A flawed and ultimately repentant individual who escaped the death penalty at Nuremburg and thereafter embarks on a fasinating search for some form of reconciliati...more
Bryoniadioica
Phenomenal.

After reading Sereny's earlier book, which profoundly engaged me and even moved me, I was eager to read this. At first, it was a slog - partly because of its indigestible length at 720 pages, and the serious nature of its prose, which necessitated putting it down at intervals. I don't often read books in stages - I like to plow through within a day, or failing that, perhaps two. It's alienating to stretch out something for longer, and it feels less intense - so I'm not sure if my init...more
Olethros
-Duelo de ingenios y voluntades sobre delgadas líneas grises.-

Género. Biografía (y algo más).

Lo que nos cuenta. Biografía de Albert Speer que trabaja sobre su psique y personalidad, especialmente centrada en su participación dentro del régimen nazi, su “papel” en Nuremberg, sus años de encarcelamiento y su vida posterior.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

http://librosdeolethros.blogspot.com/...
Nigeyb
a c600 page account of Speer's life from youth to death via WW2 and Nuremberg. Absolutely fascinating and heartily recommended. Speer is one of the more interesting Nazis in that he acknowledged the evil that he had perpetrated. Read this and the two Antony Beevor books: Stalingrad + Berlin and you'll start seeing echoes of the past everywhere you go
Debby Coco
This is a very intriguing book. The author helps us to understand how a generation of people could follow a criminal like Hitler. Her honesty and method of getting to the truth, her tireless research are outstanding. She helps us to understand the psychology of the people and the times she is writing about. I will now need to read all of her works.
Cecilia
Aug 17, 2013 Cecilia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ann
Recommended to Cecilia by: my mother
Shelves: biography
Gripping from page one until the end... G Sereny creates a masterpiece. I agree with the Review of David Cesarini "Reading is an essential exhausting experience that conveys like no other book the human qualities of the Nazi elite. By restoring emotion to people we would prefer to regard as soulless machines she has rendered Nazism still more horrifying".
Deb
Fascinating look into the mind of a man very close to Hitler who claimed to his death that he did not know about the final solution. While difficult to believe, if you read the book, you can clearly see his blind spots. Very well written.
Scott
An amazing book. Historically aa brilliant book. But also it explores the disturbing nature of how man can follow and be part of structual evil.
Mark Ward
Couldn't put it down. A fascinating insight into the life of the only one of Hitler's major henchmen who admitted any guilt at the Nuremberg trials.
Lewis Weinstein
I have read only the introduction, but I think this will be a very valuable resource for me.

Sereny writes of what she calls Speer's "profound malaise with his own conscience … his battle with his soul … ambivalence between his moral necessity to confront the long-repressed guilt of his terrible knowledge (of the murder of the Jews) … and a desperate need to deny that knowledge and thus the guilt … this ambivalence dominated his life from Nurenberg until shortly before his death"

These are precise...more
Mark Lennon
Fantastic book,very well written and very insightful
Lou
Sep 06, 2007 Lou rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
Ms. Sereny goes to great lengths in her attempt to display Speer as a misunderstood, repentant bad guy.

She fails miserably.

Speer was a criminal of the first degree and that he was not executed with the other Nazi criminals of his ilk was either a failing of the courts or a representation of the very true fact that Speer was quite the genius, especially in the art of covering up his crimes.

The book is exceptionally well-written, however, and I give full kudos to Ms. Sereny. This book is definitel...more
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Sereny vs. Fest 1 6 Sep 04, 2012 08:50AM  
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Gitta Sereny was a journalist, biographer and historian. She passed away in England aged 91, following a long illness.

Gitta attributed her fascination with evil to her own experiences of Nazism as a child of central Europe in the early 20th century. Hers was not a happy childhood. She was born in Vienna, the daughter of a beautiful Austrian actress, whom she later described as "without moral opin...more
More about Gitta Sereny...
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