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Speer: The Final Verdict Hardcover – September 9, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The German architect who later became armaments minister, Albert Speer has long been considered an "artist" among Nazi wartime officials as he apparently considered himself, holding himself apart from what he saw as the more vulgar politicians currying Hitler's favor, a favor he already held. A leading German historian who worked closely with Speer in editing his memoirs, Fest (Hitler) brings a profound knowledge of his subject as he focuses on the contradictions in Speer's personality and life. "It remains a mystery," Fest writes, "how such a rational character could develop the na‹ve faith that was a prerequisite for belonging to Hitler's inner circle." Speer was a talented man with few of the personality quirks found among others in the Nazi hierarchy for instance, he had an unremarkable childhood as the son of a liberal German family. But as Fest shows, Speer embodied many traits of the German people. Like thousands of others, Speer was seduced by Hitler's charisma in fact, the two had a close friendship that, according to Fest, was erotic but probably not carnal and by the Nazi project to create order out of chaos. Fest leaves unanswered whether Speer was just reading the tea leaves and preparing his postwar defense when he opposed Nazi policies in Hitler's final months, but he successfully walks the tightrope between delving inside Speer's mind and keeping a distance from him. As a result, he sheds much light on one of the more intriguing Nazi officials. 87 b&w photos.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Albert Speer (1905-81), Hitler's architect and later his armaments minister, has long been regarded as one of the most enigmatic figures of the Nazi era. Sentenced at the Nuremberg Trials to 20 years' imprisonment, he served his sentence and then published several books, including his prison diaries and a memoir, Inside the Third Reich, which is one of the classics of the vast literature on the Nazi period. Yet questions about Speer persist: was he a self-indulgent, otherwordly artist seduced by Hitler's charisma or an opportunist? How much did he know about and participate in the Nazi slave-labor system that built the armaments in the industry he managed? How much of his memoirs and other writings is true, how much self-serving or selective remembering? Fest, a prominent German historian and journalist and himself the author of a major biography of Hitler, was the editor of Speer's memoirs. In this well-written and intriguing book, he attempts to assess Speer's life and work, answer some of the persistent questions about him, describe some of the conditions under which he wrote, and chronicle his response to the questions and issues raised in his writings. The result is a fascinating portrait of Speer and his times. But even in this thoughtful biography the enigmatic Speer finally resists the effort to arrive at a final verdict. This book belongs in any collection on the Nazi era and should take its place with Inside the Third Reich and Fest's biography Hitler in all public and academic libraries. Barbara Walden, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., Madison
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1st U.S. ed edition (September 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151005567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151005567
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on September 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Albert Speer has proved to be a lasting enigma for historians, and of continued interest to the public. This is not the first book written about Speer, and contrary to the title it will not be the last. I found the book to be well done, and while it does bring some new detail to the life of Speer it is not a book that provides any fundamental shifts in generally accepted facts.
There are at least two troubling issues that I found worthy of note. The first is a certain arrogance of the author during his introduction when he expresses the opinion that there has not been a proper biography written of Speer. The author is certainly an authority on Speer and had an unusual opportunity to work with and get to know the man as much or more than any other writer. I have read several biographies of Speer, and two of Speer's own works, and there is a great deal of biographic writing available, and it is not as lacking as the author suggests. Issue number 2 is that the author uses David Irving as a reference and also refers to him as a historian. David Irving has been the subject of books, and a man who was handed a miserable defeat in a courtroom in England that condemned him as a dubious historian but perhaps a good researcher, and confirmed that his views of Nazi Germany were largely revisionist and without documentary facts. David Irving may be a researcher, he may even gather accurate information, no where have I read of any legitimate historian grant the same honor and respect to Irving, in fact his is considered little more than a demagogue. His associations with groups that wish to minimize the Holocaust to the point of triviality, if they admit to it at all is well documented, and why Mr. Fest would quote him from all the available sources is a mystery.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be one of the more perceptive books I have read on members of Hitler's inner circle. Albert Speer as many of the previous reviewers have already wrote, proves to be a great mystery. However, the author provides some very interesting insights to Speer's rather naive but contradictory asute behavior during the time he serves for Hitler.
The book proves to be very readable and easy to get into. Its provides a very informative picture of Albert Speer without overwhelming you with mindless details and gives a clear idea what kind of man Speer was, before, during and after the Third Reich.
Its interesting that of all the individuals of Hitler's inner circle, Speer was intellectually, culturally and morally above the rest but Fest make it understood that Speer had some sort of psychological blinder on and spent much of his post-World War life with that blinder still partially on. From what Fest wrote, it seem that Speer suffered from some sort of a self-imposed martyrdom at Nuremberg.
Interesting book and well worth the effort to read, I thought I knew Speer a bit better now then before.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced a bitter divorce can testify as to the degree to which two otherwise intelligent and perceptive human beings can violently disagree as to what the truth is regarding matters both witnessed and had been parties to. So it is with our continuing fascination and absolute incredulity regarding Albert Speer, an otherwise intelligent and perceptive soul, who just so happens to have been a willing participant in one of the most horrific administrations in the history of the 20th century, the Nazi Third Reich.

In two quite absorbing but incredibly self-serving books, Speer argued that he never understood the full extent of the Nazi war crimes nor the degree to which his own actions were complicit with those horrific aims. He first argued this at the war trials in Nuremberg, but did so in such a way as to admit his own culpability based on his rank and his actions as Chief Of Armaments Production, during which he employed slave labor in service to the German war effort. By being the only defendant at Nuremberg to show any semblance of remorse, he saved himself by admitting his own guilt, though largely guilt by association.

Careful readings of the trials transcripts show that he was, in fact, fairly forthcoming in his admissions, although he always contended that he lacked specifics regarding the so-called �Final Solution� or even of the fact that the concentration camps in Poland and elsewhere were being used to systematically annihilate millions of Jews and Gypsies. In fact, he was an incredibly sophisticated human being who was expert in �toadying up� to whomever he needed to.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joachim Fest's "Speer: The Final Verdict" is a solid contribution to the Speer catalog. Fest's book is essentially a biography of Speer's time within the National Socialist regime. It is a nice (if somewhat redundant) companion to Speer's pseudo-autobiography "Inside the Third Reich". Whereas Speer's writings in ItTR focus not only on his time in the Nazi regime but also childhood and university years, Fest's book really deals with Speer's rise in the Nazi power structure and his association (often volatile but never strained beyond distinct affection) with Hitler. While the title suggests that the reader will gain some new insight into Speer's complicity and complacency relative to war crimes for which had association, little new is brought to life. Yet, because Fest is looking from outside - he is not writing about himself as Speer has done - the analysis can be taken with a different grain of spice. Fest does not excuse Speer's actions but rather tries to place them in a context that the reader can draw judgment from.
It is clear that Speer is an enigma within the third Reich: 1) he was highly educated (if not successful as an architect before his association with the Nazi's) and cultured - in stark contrast to other power brokers like Rohm and Bormann; 2) while certainly not immune to Hitler's psychological powers Speer did actively disobey (at great personal risk) many of Hitler's orders late in the war - with the major exception of the assassination plot conspirators Speer is essentially alone in this regard, and 3) while he appears to have despised politics he played the intrigue game within the Hitlter Court to perfection and really had few rivals (Bormann being the strongest). Was he the "Good Nazi"? Or is this simply an oxymoron?
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