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Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,708 ratings  ·  94 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 September 19th 1995)
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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
Mar 29, 2011 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
Harry Smith
Jul 19, 2012 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 l ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history
A question I think we should all ask ourselves continually is: What would I not do for money and power? Since money and power can come gradually to a person, it is very easy to keep on keeping on without reappraising the situation. We are prone to out of sight - out of mind.

When people live in small groups it is soon known when an activity of one or a few members are harmful to others. It's almost impossible for anyone in the group not to be aware of the welfare of all rest. This was a strength
Oct 22, 2009 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. ...more
Albert Speer, "Hitler's architect" and the Minister of Armaments and War Production (after his predecessor's death in 1942), is the only high-ranking Nazi official who accepted, really, any blame for the Third Reich's systematic slaughter of the Jews, Poles, Romanis, Russians, political dissidents, etc. Somehow managing to escape with his life after Nuremberg, he spent twenty years in relative solitude, writing his memoirs (which were published as Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret D ...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
Erik Graff
Jun 02, 2010 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
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What to say about this book? 24 hours on from completing it and I'm still no closer to a coherent thought process regarding it.

Or rather, that's not true, I know the book was brilliant in both conception and execution; I'm still no closer to knowing what to make of Speer himself. Did he know of the mass murder of the Jews of Europe or didn't he? Was he present during the speech which Himmler made (and in which he addressed Speer, present or not, directly) at the Posen conference in 1943, in whi
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history
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
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
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Cynthia Karl
Jan 21, 2011 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
Nov 09, 2008 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
Feb 19, 2013 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
Veni Johanna
Mar 17, 2011 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 wor ...more
Martin Empson
Dec 16, 2011 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
Lewis Weinstein
Feb 17, 2012 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
Jun 22, 2012 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 ...more
What an extraordinary book! This is a biography of Albert Speer, architect to Hitler and government minister in the Third Reich, but it is a particular sort of biography. You could say it is a psychological or intellectual biography, but even those words don't do justice to its uniqueness. I see it as a moral biography, set within a conversation between Speer and the author, Gitta Sereny, who came to know Speer in the final years of his life. She became friends with him and she liked him. But he ...more
Frank Paul
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-two
This book is a tough slog, but well worth the effort. The writing is meticulous and contains all the information that one would expect from a biography of Speer, but its purpose is both more narrow and more profound than telling the story of one life.

This book is about a man who facilitated the greatest atrocities of the last century. He alone among Hitler's inner circle owned up to being party to a henious crime. But he couldn't quite commit to living in the full truth of what he knew.

Speer was
Jan 26, 2009 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 crime ...more
Sep 25, 2011 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
John Houghton
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read some excellent books this year, but this stands above them all. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised as it came as a recommendation from a friend who rated it the best she had read in 10 years of her book club.

This is far more than a biography of Speer. It is a deeply-probing analysis of a man who who was at the centre of some of the most epochal moment of the last century. Sereny has read the archives, has read all of Speer's published and unpublished memoirs and diaries and, most impor
Aug 29, 2013 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
Camilla Petra
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is hands down my most compelling read of 2019. A searing portrait of Hitler’s architect and later on Minister of Armaments and Production, it gives a detailed and extremely thoroughly researched account of the horrors of the Third Reich – the events that paved the way to its rise and eventual fall, and how dizzyingly blinding the appeal of Hitler was for those few closest to him – an appeal that led the seemingly most decent of men to the brink of the abyss.

At the heart of it all is Albert
Flyss Williams
Jan 08, 2015 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
Feb 10, 2009 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 reconciliati ...more
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Gitta Sereny was an Austrian born 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 "wit

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
96 likes · 16 comments
“the great Dutch Protestant theologian W. A. Visser ’t Hooft suggested, which I suspect applies to many people including–to a large degree–Speer: that “people cannot find a place in their consciousness . . . their imagination . . . or finally have the courage to face (or allow themselves to remember) unimaginable horror. It is possible,” he said, “to live in a twilight between knowing and not knowing.” 1 likes
“As possibly no other politician in our time, Hitler understood the art of public speaking, of pauses, of silence, of inducing, inciting and inflaming passion. “I am ashamed of it now,” said Speer, “but at the time, I found him deeply exciting.” 0 likes
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