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Inside the Third Reich; Memoirs By Albert Speer
Inside the Third Reich Memoirs By Albert Speer Author:Albert Speer Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston — Introduction by Eugene Davidson — The original edition of the book was published in Germany in 1969 under the title Erinnerungen — Inside the Third Reich is written in a semi-autobiographical style. While Speer begins with his childhood, he spends most of the memoirs describing his work in t... more »he Nazi hierarchy.
Speer, by his account, entered the Nazi hierarchy by an unusual chain of events. He said that he first joined after attending a rally, at the behest of some of his students, at which Hitler spoke. Early on Speer was used mainly as a driver due to his being the only member with a car in the Wannsee area. As an architect commissioned by the party, he achieved an excellent turnaround time on a building project, which attracted attention from senior leaders. Because Adolf Hitler saw himself as both an architect and artist, he warmed to Speer and gradually brought him into his inner circle.
Due to his relative closeness to Hitler, Speer found himself in an enviable but precarious position. He later remarked, "I would have been Hitler's best friend… if Hitler had been capable of having friends."
His duties until 1942 were occupied exclusively by architectural work, mainly large works that Hitler planned but would never build. Then, after the Minister of Armaments, Fritz Todt, died in a plane crash, Hitler unexpectedly tapped Speer for the position.
Under Speer, German arms production improved greatly. Prior to his appointment, the economy was run by Hermann Göring. However, Göring had fallen out of favor. After a power struggle, Speer managed to get most of the economy under his control. (Some aspects of it had fallen under the control of Heinrich Himmler's secret police, and remained so until the collapse of government.)
Speer introduced economic reforms that the United States and Great Britain had implemented long before—namely, the full mobilization of factories for war purposes and the use of female workers. However, although more arms were produced, by the time Speer accomplished this, the war was already lost. Many people among the Western allies believed that the dictatorship in Germany gave that country's wartime economy frightening advantages by creating great efficiencies throughout the economy (in comparison to the cacophony of forces that shaped the production possibilities curve in democracies). Speer took pains in his memoirs to argue that this theory was not supported by the facts. In fact, he felt that in some ways the democracies ended up with better efficiencies in production than Germany did. He judged that the pathological secrecy and corruption within a dictatorial system more than canceled out the theoretical benefits of greater centralization.
By the end of the war, Speer was disillusioned by the war, by the Nazis, and with Hitler himself. Despite being one of the few people to stay close to Hitler until the end, he sabotaged Hitler's scorched earth policy to prevent the complete destruction of Germany. The main body effectively ends when Speer, by this point having joined Karl Dönitz's government seated in Schleswig-Holstein, receives news of Hitler's death. This is followed by an epilogue dealing with the end of the war in Europe and the resulting Nuremberg Trials, in which Speer is sentenced to a two-decade prison sentence for his actions during the war.
The memoirs Inside the Third Reich end as Speer begins his 20-year term in Spandau Prison.« less