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Albert Speer: Conversations with Hitler's Architect Hardcover – June 2, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (June 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745639186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745639185
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Of all the biographers and writers on the Third Reich, Joachim Fest was not only good at his craft, but also had the good fortune to be invited to act, as her describes it, as 'interrogating editor' for the best selling autobiography of Albert Speer. What he has done is to create the literary equivalent of a fly-on-the-wall documentary."
The Spokesman

"These conversations will be indispensable for specialists in the history of the Third Reich and fascism."
Political Studies Review

"In its poignancy, this book gives remarkable insights into three men: Hitler, as a consummate manipulator of people; Speer, as not particularly bright but vainglorious, weak, unremarkable and very lonely; and, not least, Fest himself, who proves tenacious and resourceful. He has convinced me with a work of brilliant analysis: the best study of Speer I know."
Michael H. Kater, York University, Toronto

"These diary-type notes by Joachim Fest, bestselling historian of the Third Reich, of his extensive conversations with Albert Speer make truly absorbing reading."
V.R. Berghahn, Columbia University

From the Back Cover

Albert Speer remains the most mysterious character of the leadership of the Nazi regime. He was the chief architect of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler’s confidant. Speer built the “Reichskanzlei” (official offices), discovered the “Lightdome” and was finally, in 1942, named as the minister for arms. But he characterised himself as apolitical, called Hitler’s hatred of Jews an anomaly, and the conspirators of the 20th July placed Speer’s name on their cabinet list.

Joachim Fest helped Albert Speer to draft his “memoirs” and the Spandau diaries. Between 1966 and 1981 they conducted numerous detailed conversations whose content (and at times exact wording) Joachim Fest recorded in writing after the event. The records captured in this manner are now published for the first time in this book and they provide a unique portrait of Albert Speer – of the man, his thinking and his role in the Nazi regime. They are an important contribution to understanding the psychology of the national socialist leadership and at the same time a significant document of history.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Buddy Mear on February 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In some ways this is more phycological than historical. While the facts are all there, at least all the fact that Speer allowed them to be told, it is the authors presentation of the facts that is so interesting. At every step of the unfolding drama of Speer's life, the author challenges the facts in an effort to get Speer to reveal more of his knowledge and, ultimately, his responsibility for the actions of the Third Reich. While it never really becomes clear what Speer knew and when he knew it, we do begin to understand where Speer is most sensitive to the author's probes and, as a consequence, where Speer could be hiding some detail. All in all it is a fascinating portrait of one of the key insiders to Hitler's Germany. We learn who he distrusted, who he thought stupid and who he admired. Speer was also not above gossip, particularly in his recounting of Hitler's relationship with Winifred Wagner. While this book is not a true biography of Speer, it is a fine phycological portrait of the man.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By James T. Wheeler on December 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For most of his life, Albert Speer must have been desperately lonely and unhappy. This was especially demonstrated in 1966, after he was released from his 20-year sentence at Spandau prison. He was unable to enjoy the family reunion that was staged for him and was really sorry he'd left confinement. In prison, he had a structure to his life he seemed to crave. And almost endless projects with which to occupy his mind and body. On the outside, he was restless and had few friends. These included his longtime secretary and aide, Anne-Marie Kempf. Frau Kempf had an attachment to Speer but was not a fawning admirer. She told him what she thought and he appreciated her frankness. Anne-Marie was perhaps his biggest asset in defending himself at Nuremberg as she smuggled documents into Speer's lawyer in her underwear. All the while she disguised herself as a member of the press.

The biggest question about Albert Speer remains: "What did he know and when did he know it?" To his dying day, September 1, 1981, he claimed innocence in knowing about the atrocities committed by the Nazis mostly against the Jews of Europe. Despite these claims, the author shows documentation of his knowledge. This includes a reprinted copy of an order he signed to evict Jews from their homes in Berlin to make way for road construction. Many former occupants of these homes would be shipped east to the Nazi death camps. Berlin's road building was part of the plan to turn the city into Germania--"capital of the world," in Hitler's imagination. Speer thirsted for fame and power and Hitler provided them.

Germania was perhaps Speer's greatest dream and it was never fulfilled. Space is devoted to how it would have looked based on photos of models Speer had constructed.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By James Hellyer on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In my opinion, this book wanders about desperately trying to reveal some hidden fact about Speer that heretofore has not been discovered. This lack of a cohesive approach reduces the book to a disparate collection of re-visited issues and allegations that any student of Speer history already knows. Like an old blood hound with his head too close to familiar tracks, Herr Fest spends much time sniffing around for some new shred of evidence that will support his long held beliefs that Speer is not telling the whole story as Fest believes it to be. Unfortunately for him either Speer out foxes him at every turn or more likely he is simply, after all these decades, actually telling the truth.
After conversations with Speer, Herr Fest offers post conversation comments that many times are simply conjecture. An example on page 86....."As a minister, he must have liked to veer around like that(hot-tempered)with his people", evidence that Fest is so consumed to deliver new information that he often blurs his subjective projections for fact. Unfortuately, this obsession prevents the book from pursuing other legitimate and interesting avenues of inquiry.
For instance, how did Speer deal with the machinations regarding the plans to build Germania or the many other massive pre-war building projects? What sort of statement did Speer think his Great Hall truly made to the layman of that period or to subsequent generations? How did he come by his organizational genius as displayed in the construction of the Reichskanzlei or what was it like for him to see the crowd's reaction the first night of the Cathedral of Light at the Zeppelinfeld Stadium? Given Speer's modest nature we will never know about this aspect of his psyche or what his answers may have coincidentally revealed.
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