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Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  1,206 Ratings  ·  63 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 ...more
Paperback, 757 pages
Published October 29th 1996 by Vintage (first published September 19th 1995)
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Community Reviews

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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
Mikey B.
Page 718 my book

This was a man who knew more about that bane of our century, Hitler, than anyone else.

This is a very powerful and probing biography of Albert Speer. Speer was an architect who became interested, as probably most Germans, in the Nazi party in the early 1930’s. It was seen at the time as an enthusiastic, vital response to the future of their country. Somehow they saw the Nazi Party as positive; not noticing the anti-Semitic vitriol and all the other “hates” (communism, democracy, l
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
Harry Smith
Sep 18, 2013 Harry Smith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, history
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 ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 04, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 22, 2009 Toby rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 15, 2011 Davida rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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
Cynthia Karl
Mar 08, 2011 Cynthia Karl rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 13, 2008 Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
Jun 29, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
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 ...more
Veni Johanna
Mar 21, 2012 Veni Johanna rated it really liked it
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 ...more
It is a little long ....

It reads like a magazine interview. But has a bio mixed into it. I was happy for the author going the distance and keeping with the "Hard" questions! (For the time ALOT more people should have tried!!) but I was thankfull for the interesting writing and historical references as long as the book was it was not a dragged! (I was scared of that!! LOL)

But for what it's worth it's a great peice of history! And I'm very happy Igot the chance to not only buy it (hardcover!) but
Nov 03, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Oct 02, 2011 Joy rated it liked it
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
Aug 29, 2013 BIG BOOKS rated it really liked it
Shelves: hitler-nazis
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
Apr 26, 2013 Melody rated it it was amazing
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
Lewis Weinstein
Jun 19, 2013 Lewis Weinstein rated it really liked it
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
Flyss Williams
Jan 22, 2015 Flyss Williams rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary story of one of Hitler's right hand men, Albert Speer who avoided a death sentence at Nuremburg after the war but was to serve 20 years in Spandau prison for his alleged war crimes. This novel examines his struggle with the truth of the holocaust and the role he played in these events it seeks to understand how anyone could blindly go along with such a system and follows his quest to find some sort of resolution to the enormous sense of guilt, he had to ultimately live with. Of all ...more
Martin Empson
Dec 16, 2011 Martin Empson rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 06, 2009 Noel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 10, 2013 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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 ...more
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
An excellent study/biography of the man who could have been Hitler's successor and, nevertheless, seems to have been a quite decent and even extraordinary person. The point in question here being "seems", which is the subject matter of the whole book: How can an intelligent and mild personality end up being spiritually or psychologically subjugated by a person like nutty Hitler?

Find out for yourself. And put yourself in the same position. Nobody is safe from evil. It's a spiritual realm full of
Jul 24, 2014 Olethros rated it really liked it
-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:
Jun 22, 2012 Nigeyb rated it really liked it
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
Aug 17, 2013 Cecilia rated it really liked it
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".
Jan 03, 2010 Deb rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 28, 2009 Scott rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 31, 2011 Mark Ward rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 23, 2014 Bryoniadioica rated it it was amazing

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
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Sereny vs. Fest 2 12 Sep 24, 2014 01:33PM  
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  • Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich
  • Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945
  • Nuremberg Diary
  • The Third Reich: A New History
  • Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives
  • Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-41
  • Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial
  • Speer: The Final Verdict
  • The Third Reich in History and Memory
  • Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe
  • Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying
  • Germany 1945: From War to Peace
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 about Gitta Sereny...

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