Albert Speer
(8 of 8)


November 15, 1955 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Today the Russian commandant of Berlin, General Dibrova, came on an inspection . . . . In the afternoon Funk went over his grand scene again and again for our benefit. "How are you, Herr Funk?" the general asked, and at once answered the question himself: "I can tell you this, better. You look like a young champion." Thereupon, said Funk, he had brought the general up to date on his three incurable diseases, for probably he had not even been informed of the precarious state of Funk's health. Funk has seized the opportunity to explain to the commandant that his being here is was a rank injustice. The American prosecution at Nuremberg had forcibly extracted the crucial testimony against him by mistreatment of one of the German witnesses, he said.

Although he was still alive, he did not hesitate to call the whole thing a judicial murder; at least that was how it would turn out if he were held here much longer. "You must write all that down," the Soviet general said, smiling. "I replied to the general that I've already done so," Funk told me. "Several times, in fact. I said I'd written to the Control Commission." Dibrova shook his head. "You must write to the Soviet Ambassador. The Control Commission no longer exists. You have the right to bring up your case. Insist that it be dealt with by a special committee." In parting the general had wished Funk a good recovery. Funk is so sure of the effectiveness of his presentation that he again has hopes of a release soon. He is setting himself deadlines again. (Speer II)

August 24, 1956 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Schirach's only reaction to a picture of Neurath's funeral in Die Welt: "Did you see Papen's morning coat? Perfect fit; he must have a first-class tailor. Probably done by Knize in Vienna." (Speer II)

September 7, 1956 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Before going into the yard this afternoon we had to wait for Hess. When he arrived at last, Doenitz said to him, "If I had a mark, Herr Hess, for every quarter-hour I've had to wait for you in the past eleven years, I'd be a rich man." Hess retorted without hesitation, "And if I, Herr Doenitz, had only a single pfennig for every useless word you've addressed to me in these eleven years, I'd be much richer than you." Recently Doenitz has been showing his irritation with the preferential treatment of Hess by speaking of him as "Herr Baron." Lately he has formed the habit of posting himself ten paces in front of Hess and staring at him for minutes at a time. Sometimes I then post myself beside Hess and stare back, which makes him stop his rudeness. (Speer II)

September 30, 1956: Doenitz is released from Spandau. (Speer II)

December 26, 1956 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

As a Christmas present the directors approved a new record player for us. The chaplain brought us two new records, the great Schubert C-major Symphony and Beethoven's Violin Concerto. To the surprise of all of us, for the first time Hess responded to the chaplain's friendly invitation and came to our concert; hitherto he had always listened from his cell. And then came the days real sensation: in the evening he took the New Testament out of the library. Funk asked him in astonishment, "But Herr Hess, what has given you that idea?" Hess smiled mockingly. "Because I thought you would ask." (Speer II)

December 27, 1956 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Funk has aged alarmingly since his operation; at sixty-six he might be taken for a man of eighty. He also seems unwontedly apathetic. At a friendly word his eyes easily fill with tears these days. He has almost lost interest in life. Most of the time he lies on a cot as if it were a sarcophagus, staring at the ceiling. (Speer II)

January 13, 1957 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Hess seemed to think hard. Then he dropped into his whining tone. "But that is dreadful . . . . Then I have lost my memory." His eyes held a cunning expression. "Don't worry about it, Herr Hess. In Nuremberg, during the trial, you also lost your memory. After the trial it came back." Hess pretended astonishment. "What's that you say? It will come back?" I nodded. "Yes, and then it goes away again. The same thing happens to me." Hess was irritated. "What, to you too? What don't you know?" I looked at him thoughtfully, as if I were trying to figure something out. Then I shrugged resignedly. "At the moment I simply cannot remember who you are and what you are doing here." For a moment Hess was perplexed. Then we both began to laugh. (Speer II)

October 15, 1957 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Funk has sent a clandestine communication to Schirach saying that in October the Four Powers will meet in Berlin to make preparations for the dissolution of Spandau. (Speer II)

November 17, 1957 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

During the walk Schirach told me about extracts from Raeder's memoirs, which he has managed to read. Raeder is now creating legends about Spandau, he says. Among other things, he speaks of his friendly relations with Doenitz and Neurath during their imprisonment. In fact, bitter enmity prevailed between him and Doenitz for many years. Schirach now confides that Raeder frequently chided him when he talked with Doenitz, saying, "You should not even speak to him." Actually it was Schirach who cheered Raeder when he was suffering from depression, helped him when he was ill. On his own initiative Schirach had several times petitioned the commandants of Berlin for the release of Raeder during the admiral's severe illness. But in hindsight Grand Admiral Doenitz and the diplomat Neurath are the only ones with whom Raeder wishes to have associated in Spandau; anyone else would harm his reputation. The foreign minister and the naval chief are in his class, so to speak; the others are mere convicts. Schirach now says bitterly, "That's how it is. As soon as someone is outside, he puts as much distance as possible between himself and those he left behind." (Speer II)

March 21, 1958 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Today--I could scarcely believe my ears--Schirach suddenly began whistling 'Lili Marlene' again. He had let up on it for some eight months. If only this isn't a new outbreak. (Speer II)

November 28, 1958 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

A speech and note of Khrushchev on Berlin. He demands that the Western Powers withdraw from Berlin within six months. The one firm Four Power agreement on Berlin concerns, so I read today, Spandau Prison; on everything else the arrangements are vaguely formulated. Thus Spandau has become a kind of juridical Rock of Gibraltar for the Western Allies. They cannot give it up under any circumstances. Schirach remarked bitterly, "Maybe the city of Berlin will actually make the three of us honorary citizens." "We'll be that in any case someday," Hess offered. (Speer II)

November 22, 1959 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

For some time Hess has become tormented by attacks. He is suspected of having used small quantities of laundry detergent to produce artificial stomach cramps. For this reason all washing and cleaning materials may henceforth be used only under supervision. (Speer II)

November 23, 1959 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Hess has been groaning and wailing day and night lately. He stares at the walls and is entirely apathetic. Within seven weeks he has lost almost fourteen kilos; 1.75 meters tall, he weighs only forty-five kilos at the moment. At the bath he reminds me of the grotesque figures conceived by Hieronymus Bosch. Today I have written on his behalf to the president of the German Red Cross. (Speer II)

November 26, 1959 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Excitement in the corridor today, constant coming and going in Hess's cell. For a long time I have to stay inside the cell. Feelings of great uncertainty. (Speer II)

November 7, 1959 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

This morning I succeeded in visiting Hess. He was lying on his bed, his wrist wrapped in bandages. When I entered, he looked up with waxen face. Nevertheless he gave the impression of a child who has carried off a prank. With something like cheerfulness he at once began: "When you were in the garden yesterday and there was no guard in the vicinity, I quickly smashed my glasses and used a piece of glass to open up the veins in my wrist. For three hours nobody noticed a thing," he went on rather rapidly. "I lay in the cell and had plenty of time to bleed to death. Then I would have been free of my pain forever. I was already feeling very weak and pleasant. But then, from far away, I heard noise. It was that wretched Soviet medical colonel on his round. He saw me lying there and immediately sewed up the cut." Hess looked at me mournfully: "Don't I have hard luck! Admit it!"

But I congratulated him on his failure, which he took as a friendly gesture. At noon Hess devoured piles of food: milk, porridge, custard, bouillon, cheese, oranges. In the evening, too, he ate with the best of appetite. I have the impression that he has broken off an 'operation.' Through my friend I sent a telegram to Hilde asking her to call off any Red Cross intervention. (Speer II)

May 10, 1960 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

An American reconnaissance plane, a so-called U-2, has been shot down deep inside the Soviet Union. This morning the newspapers report that Khrushchev now considers the Paris summit conference wrecked before it has started. Schirach is once more in despair. (Speer II)

July 5, 1960 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Together with Schirach, Hess, who months ago was complaining of acute circulatory weakness with unbearable cardiac pain, has been tramping for hours around the garden at a brisk pace without pause. Both men have again made contact with each other, and Schirach has since seemed somewhat more relaxed. With Hess he feels superior; taking the lead with Hess suits his disposition. But Hess, too, seems more balanced. Sometimes I think that something like a friendship is slowly developing between them. If so, it would be the first that has come about in Spandau. (Speer II)

July 7, 1960 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Schirach and Hess have recently been occupying themselves in the garden again, but only when they expect the Russian director to come by. Their gardening area in any case amounts to only a thirtieth of mine. At the moment they are leveling out a small lawn area there . . . . Soon afterwards they paused in their walk and stood beside me with condescending looks. "What's up? What have you two got to say?" Hess hesitated somewhat, but finally came out with it: "Schirach just commented that in mental hospitals they usually set the feeble-minded to gardening." (Speer II)

July 10, 1960 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

This morning Hess came stalking up to me. Obviously he intended to pass on an important communication. "Today is Sunday. I have just decided that in the future I shall spend a half-hour in conversation with you every Sunday." And so we are walking together. His walking pace is breath-taking; it seems to give him pleasure to demonstrate his physical powers. It delights him when I get out of breath. "And yet you're a good ten years younger than I, Herr Speer," he says happily. (Speer II)

September 27, 1961 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Abruptly, Schirach has aggravated his ailments, while Hess laconically declares, "A work schedule! Don't make me laugh. The doctors have all certified my illness, That doesn't apply to me at all." (Speer II)

April 14, 1962: Speer's daughter, Margret, weds archeologist Hans Nissen. As a photographer of architecture she has worked at the Berlin exhibition Topographie des Terrors.

1962: Mr. Francis Biddle, IMT Member for the United States of America:

We were an international Bench and looked at our legal and political obligations from different angles. Diplomatic horse-trading was combined with the duties of the judge. It necessarily played some part in certain decisions since an agreed judgement would not have been possible otherwise . . . . In our deliberations we could not leave out of account the effect of our decisions on public opinion.

July 12, 1962 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

In the Frankfurter Allgemeine the Schirach family announces the engagement of one of their sons. Our fellow prisoner signs his name Baldur Benedict von Schirach. Hess comments, "Schirach told me that all male descendants of the family have received the name Benedict for ever and ever; all females are named Benedicta." Then he adds sarcastically, "Did you know that? In the past he withheld from us this Catholic appendage to the Aryan Baldur." (Speer II)

August 14, 1962 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Months ago Hess had a violent disagreement with the British dentist. The dentist wanted to pull his last six teeth, since it is too much trouble to make new partials and bridges every time another tooth is lost. This prompted Hess to appeal to the directors in a petition. He succeeded in obtaining a ruling that no operation on any part of a prisoners body may be performed without the prisoner's written consent. After the French dentist had also decided that all the teeth must be pulled, a young female Soviet dentist examined Hess's mouth. Her verdict: "Those teeth must come out." At this point Hess demanded that an American dentist be consulted. Accompanied by three assistants, the American dentist turned up in the infirmary yesterday with a portable x-ray apparatus. He finally determined that the six teeth were sound, and declared: "My principle is to make extractions only when necessary." Now this man is in charge of our dental work. Hess has won. Today he reveled in his victory and declared proudly, "One dentist for every one and a half teeth!" (Speer II)

April 24, 1963 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Today at breakfast Schirach and Hess refuse to eat their eggs because the shells are cracked. They demand replacements, which are amazingly enough provided. In response to my question as to what all the fuss is about, Hess informs me: "Water on the inside of eggs is unhygienic. Think of all the people who may have handled the egg. Then all that penetrates through the crack into the egg, enters the stomach when consumed, and naturally has devastating effects. Now do you understand?" I nod, at once grateful and intimidated. At noon Long whispers to me behind his hand that the rejected eggs are served in chopped egg salad--which Schirach and Hess devour with pleasure. (Speer II)

December 4, 1963 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Schirach is limping badly today: the American doctor came in the afternoon to look at him. Toward evening Pease brought word that Schirach has an embolism in a vein. Pease said he has already been given an injection to inhibit clotting of the blood. Now, watched by Mees, he has bee put in the infirmary for the night. His temperature and blood pressure are taken every four hours, so I have just heard. The doctor in the hospital is on call. Tomorrow morning Schirach is to be x-rayed. George Reiner, the new guard, a German-American, frequently comes to my cell to discuss Schirach's illness, as does Long. (Speer II)

December 6, 1963 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Godeaux came rushing into my cell with the news that Schirach is going to the hospital at once. I asked Hess whether I should go to see Schirach and say goodbye. His reaction to such unexpected gestures is to assume right off that his last hour has come, Hess replied. "Beside, your visit would give him no pleasure." But Hess visited Schirach and brought him news of his impending transfer. Schirach had known nothing about it. (Speer II)

December 17, 1963 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

This morning I went to the infirmary to greet Schirach, back from the hospital but still bedridden. We shook hands for the first time in years. He extended his as though he were granting a boon. (Speer II)

March 16, 1964 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Hess has listed several hundred titles of books he would like to have . . . . His interests center ... in particular on the ills of civilization. He has long been pursuing the connections between such phenomena and liberal democracy. Again and again he comes to me with examples of over-consumption in the United States. He happily reports of misguided investments in the market economy, collects examples of land speculation, criminality, bad posture in children, and health damage caused by canned foods. Out of frequently ridiculous and atypical items he is putting together his vision of doom, against the background of which he will presumably see arising, one of these days, the figure of the savior once more. (Speer II)

October 1964: Speer writes to Wolters:
I'm quite aware that to plan publishing may be one of my worst idiocies, perhaps indeed a fatal one. But as it so happens, I am one of the few who may be able to report objectively, not from and French, British or even German point of view, but from a position beyond and above national interest. (Sereny)

October 24, 1964 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

For several months Hess has been fighting for the right to make good-sized extracts from his reading. He asked for large batches of writing paper for this purpose, but so far his requests have been turned down. Today he made his request to the French general virtually in the form of an ultimatum. "I have no objection to my papers being censored," he declared in an angry tone, "and I would even allow the extracts to be burned later on. But I want to keep my notes together for a fairly long time, so as to be able to go over them. That is not possible with these few small notebooks." When Hess's tone became vehement and excited, the general abruptly left the cell. But he stared stunned at the director when the latter confirmed that all our notes are collected from time to time and destroyed by machine. "Is that so?" he asked, surprised and disturbed, and turned away, shaking his head. (Speer II)

November 12, 1964 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

During the noon recess today I was having a lively, hour-long chat with Gobeaux when Schirach suddenly made his signal flap drop. Indignantly, he demanded quiet; he wanted to sleep, he said. His lordly tones offended the Frenchman, who told Schirach that it was not the prisoners business to decide when and how the guards should converse. Schirach self-righteously referred Gobeaux to the prison rule forbidding guards to speak with prisoners. "Very well, then shut your trap now!" Gobeaux replied; he added that singing and whistling were also, incidentally, against the rules. But Schirach refused to be intimidated. "If you don't stop talking to Number Five right this minute, I'll report you to the Russian director," he threatened. We would not let him bully us, but all the fun had gone out of our chat. Soon we ended it. (Speer II)

January 27, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

This morning Schirach told British director Procter that he could no longer see anything with his right eye . . . . Schirach is suffering from detached retina. An hour later he was transferred to the infirmary. (Speer II)

January 28, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Last night Schirach was taken to the hospital. Colonel Nadysev was shocked because in spite of all the secrecy television crews appeared at the gate with searchlights mounted precisely at the minute Schirach was to leave. (Speer II)

February 3, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

The silence in the cellblock is growing more and more uncanny. I almost begin to miss Schirach's nervousness [Schirach was hospitalized on January 28, 1965], his restlessness, his singing and whistling. I go walking with Hess more often, but it quickly becomes apparent that I cannot replace Schirach. Once Hess even forgot whom he was talking with. "Did you read," he asked triumphantly, "that they have painted swastikas on a Social Democratic Party shop?" (Speer II)

May 13, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Schirach's case has again become critical... Procter, the British director, and a squad of military police accompanied Schirach, who wore prison garb with his number on his back and two trouser legs, to the operating room in the German hospital. (Speer II)

June 6, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

A few days ago Schirach returned from the hospital. He reported on his first meeting with Germans in eighteen years. The doctors were extremely constrained, he said; curious nurses and other staff members had posted themselves in hallways, and he had been looked at rather like a fabulous beast than with sympathy. (Speer II)

September 4, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Hess has been in bed for two days. The doctor could find nothing wrong. Schirach commented to the guards that Hess was laying the grounds for another suicide attempt. By chance I heard Pease tersely reproving Schirach: "After all, it's the last right Hess has; if he makes up his mind to it, it should not be taken from him." (Speer II)

October 25, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Today I told Schirach that in preparation for release Doenitz had a suit made, which was brought to the prison for him; his tailor had kept the measurements all these years. "Good idea," Schirach said. "My children will have to find out whether Knize in Vienna still has mine. No doubt he has." "I'd be inclined to ask about prices first," I said. "I imagine it would come to four or six hundred marks nowadays." "I would expect eight hundred or a thousand," Schirach replied. "Assuming a thousand, and then five suits and a dinner jacket and three coats and some casual clothes as well, sports jackets, custom made shirts, of course . . . .

So, all together, maybe around twelve thousand. What am I saying! Tails, an evening coat, all sorts of other things have to be added in. And then the shoes, the underwear, only the best—let's say, reckoning roughly, twenty." I was thunderstruck. "But," I said, to do him a kindness, "with the million you'll have for the book you can easily afford that, after all." Schirach gave me a pitying look. "A million you say? That's ridiculous. It will be much more. You see, I'm going to write three books." (Speer II)

December 8, 1965 Spandau: The Secret Diaries:

Hess's heart was found to be quite sound at yesterdays examination. Today I remarked to him, "Many of the guards will fade away in the next few years because of their foolish life, and you will remain." Ambiguously, he replied, "It's a pity." But in a sense he is already enjoying the fact that an inflated establishment headed by four colonels, visited by generals and commissions of doctors, including a large building and much else, is going to be maintained for him alone. Schirach claims that Hess feels like Napoleon, even if only on St. Helena. (Speer II)

September 28, 1966 Spandau: The Secret Diaries: [Two days before Speer's release]

In the evening I knocked on his [Hess'] cell door and asked to have a brief talk with him. I told him I thought it wrong to attempt to buy his release by simulating insanity. If he did that, I said, he would be undermining his own image, whereas now, thanks to his consistency, he was regarded with a certain respect even among his enemies. He would only destroy that if he played the madman. It would throw a bad light on his own bearing during the decades that lay behind him, make all that seem merely obsessive behavior. This, I said, was what I wanted to tell him honestly before I know longer could. For a while Hess looked at me wide-eyed, in silence; then he said firmly, "You are absolutely right. I too did not feel good about all that." (Speer II)

September 29, 1966 Spandau: The Secret Diaries: [One day before Speer's release]

When I entered the garden a while ago I saw Hess standing in the side court. He had his back to me. I went up to him and stood beside him, just as a gesture of sympathy. Great mounds of coal for the prison were being unloaded in the court. For a while we stood in silence side by side. Then Hess said, "So much coal. And from tomorrow on only for me." (Speer II)

October 1, 1966: Speer and Baldur von Schirach are released from Spandau, leaving Hess as the sole remaining prisoner. Margarete Speer and Speer's Nuremberg counsel, Dr. Hans Flachsner are there to greet Speer on his release. Note: While Speer was incarcerated, Dr. Flachsner had remained as his attorney. His major work during this time had been stalling the de-Nazification proceedings against Speer. While Speer could not have been subject to further incarceration, the property upon which his family survived during that time could have been confiscated. The proceedings were eventually ended by West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt. Speer and his wife Marget, will reside at the Speer family estate on a hill overlooking Heidelberg Castle. (Sereny, Speer)

November 30, 1966: Wolters writes to Speer, to express his opposition to Speer's having granting an interview to the left-liberal German magazine, Der Spiegel:

And indeed, the opinions you duly expressed, so precisely in line with what has been taught in our schools for the past twenty years, provided exactly what the press wants to hear . . . . However difficult it is, in your memoirs you should perhaps concentrate entirely on what really happened, leaving aside what the world thinks of it now . . . .

As Hitler was one of the prime political movers of the first half of this century, anything said about him by those who were close to him is essential for the establishment of historical truth . . . . In this sense ... improvised statements to the press are not only irresponsible and misleading, but also possibly harmful to your future credibility.

Your reply to Speigel's question, "Would you unequivocally blame Germany for the war?" "No, not Germany: Hitler," is precisely the kind of dangerous oversimplification made entirely from today's perspective that I mean. You will surely remember that in 1939 we were all of the opinion that Hitler was Germany. Although we were certainly depressed rather than enthusiastic about the war in Poland, we surely considered that the responsibility for it was to be found in the provocative conduct by the Poles, and that it was the British who made it a world war. Is that not how all of us saw it then?

Of course, after the drumming the masses have received from the media since 1945, hardly anyone doubts Hitler's sole responsibility, which after all forms the basis of our foreign policy--Hitler the devil, his collaborators the devil's generals, the devil's doctors, the devil's architects and so on. If anyone entertained the hope, however, that this demonization would free the German people of blame, they have been richly disillusioned. For the victors—i. e., most of all the world—the devil and his sub-devils were and remain the Germans, all Germans . . . .

Don't you think that [in your future writing], rather than repeating these cliches, it would be worth arousing the interest and understanding [of our new generations] with a truer and wider picture of our past, which necessarily must include not only Germans, but all European and even all of Western civilization? (Sereny)

1967: Sir Hartley Shawcross, former Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom:

The point now is what effect this trial will have on the future course of history. In this I must confess to great disillusionment. During the trial we had close friendly relations with our Russian colleagues despite the fact that we raised violent objection to their inclusion of the Katyn massacre in the Indictment. We thought that we were on terms of confidence with the Russians and would keep them as friends. But when the trial was over they went back to Russia, we lost all contact with them. All attempts to gain touch with them again failed. This communist veto on normal relationships is a sad fact. Even sadder were the cynical violations of international as created at Nuremberg which we have had to witness meanwhile--Korea, Hungary, Kashmir, Algeria, Congo, Vietnam. Our Nuremberg hope that we had made some contribution to transition to a peaceful world under the rule of law has not been fulfilled.

1969: Speers memoirs are published in Germany under the title Erinnerungen (Recollections).

November 24, 1969: Speer receives a letter from Rabbi Robert Geis. He will later tell Gitta Sereny that the receipt of this letter made it "one of the most important" days of his life:

Most Honored [Sehr geehrter--a very formal greeting] Herr Speer, In 1969, I read G. M. Gilbert's Nuremberg Diary, and after that I thought of you time and again. You were different than the other accused at the Nuremberg Trial and I found the sentence you were given too severe . . . .

Not long ago I saw parts of two of your TV interviews and was again impressed by you. You will have to go on bearing your lot, as I and the survivors must bear ours. But I did want to tell you that even where I don't understand you, I respect you. But even more than that, as a devout Jew I feel that there has to be forgiveness, for you are today an honest man. I haven't read your book yet, but I will one day soon. But I didn't want to delay until then sending you these few words. With warm greetings, your Raphael Geis. (Sereny)

November 24, 1969: Speer replies to Rabbi Geis' letter:

Most Honored Herr Geis, I have read the last four lines of your letter to several of my children over the telephone, and every time I did it made me cry. I know you won't consider this--and my telling you of it--excessive sentimentality. I have had many letters as a result of the book or TV interviews, both from former friends and enemies, and among them a few kind ones from Jews. But about yours there is something very special. It touches the core of all my despair and doubts, and allow me hope for redemption.

I don't wish to seem immodest, but you would make me very happy if you would allow me to send you my book. May I?

The wishes you, a devout Jew, send me for inner peace are, believe me, the most wonderful present I ever received. I think perhaps that no one could help me as much as you to make it come true. With warm greetings, your grateful Albert Speer. (Sereny)

1970: Speer publishes the English version of his memoirs, Inside the Third Reich, to rave reviews.

January 1, 1970: Speer writes his friend and archivist, 'Rudi' Wolters:

Now we are in the soup . . . . They found a copy of one year of the Chronik in London and, as the eager beaver writer David Irving tells me, they are now diligently searching for the rest. I got Irving to send me a photocopy in order to compare it with the text you gave me [in 1966]. Luckily, I note that the deviations, from the historian's point of view, are pretty inoffensive. Even so: don't you agree that it would be better if we now took the first step and I offer to replace the copy now at the Federal Archives with a photocopy of the original which (presumably) you have? If you share my view, I would propose to quickly ascertain exactly what the differences are and inform you of what I find . . . . I hope you will see your way to let me thus set to rights whatever 'drifts' the Chronik has suffered, not only in that one year's entries, but also the others." (Sereny)

January 10, 1970: Wolters replies to Speer:

This business of 'drifts' which you now want to 'set to rights' is of course a confounded nuisance. Before we consider what best to do, I'd like to explain in a few words how it came to this cleansing, which I did mention in passing when I delivered the manuscript to you . . . . As I had originally had only kept one (complete) copy of the Chronik, which, incidentally, I thought was the only one that had survived, and this was ... in very bad condition. I decided to have the approximately 800 pages copied and equipped with an index. There was an obvious need to check the whole thing before it was copied, make some stylistic and grammatical corrections and delete a few things which were either just silly or irrelevant to contemporary history. As it was I who selected what to include in the first place, I felt quite justified twenty years later in removing a few things I considered immaterial. It is true, however, that I also felt obligated to take out a few—a very few—notes which, historically, are unfortunately not entirely unimportant. For instance: 'In the time from October 18 to November 2, 1941, about 4,500 Jews were evacuated from Berlin. This provided one thousand further habitations for people affected by the bombings., which the General Building Inspector was able to make available (for them) . . . . "This kind of thing, which occurred repeatedly, then culminated in a closing report by your associate Cl (Dietrich Clahes) which concluded that 75,000 'persons' were 'moved' with the result that 23,765 Jewish habitations were seized. That was of course an achievement! . . . .

I would not welcome for it to be passed on ... even photocopied, because in the original the crossed-out paragraphs are clearly visible even when the pencil marks are erased. The method of correction I suggest can be explained to the archive fellows as being simpler and cheaper than photocopying 800 pages. Or, if you like, just tell them 'The fellow refuses to hand over the original.' I'll be delighted to tell them my reasons. Aside from this you can rest easy: I have made arrangements that the original is to be made available to the public when no one can any longer be harmed by it . . . . Another solution would be to say for the moment, that Marion (Reisser) has destroyed the original . . . . Now over to you for decision, great Master of Armaments! (Sorry!)" (Sereny)

January ?, 1970: Speer to Wolters:

You were quite right (for once!) in what you took out. Frau Irmgard (Clahes) is coming to see me soon and she would certainly have suffered. So I propose that the relevant pages cease to exist. However, contrary to your suggestion, I think they should cease to exist forever. Because a mere postponement to historically more propitious times seems to me a bad idea. For who then could take issue with a distorted interpretation which can only be strengthened by the fact of the pages having been withheld for years. As it stands now, anyone with any sense would consider your deletion of such pages quite legitimate . . . . I hope that, despite the fog that surrounds us here, I am making myself quite clear. (Sereny)

January 22, 1970: Wolters to Speer:

Couldn't reply sooner to your letter from Selva as Marion and I spent all the time searching for the Chronik original. Without further ado: it has vanished without a trace; it's gone; no longer here--it has ceased to exist. Well, I think it's just as well. Because if it did still exist, then, yes, one would have to hand it in as is. One certainly couldn't correct it again, for if that were discovered, it would be even more embarrassing . . . . Having exercised my author's privilege of selection and editing in the first place, I had no hesitation to do so on the second occasion. But as a copy of the original (of the year 1943) apparently exists in London, I certainly would not wish to do it a third time. So, as far as I am concerned, this is the end of this matter; I hope it is the same for you. If there are any complications, just blame it all on me--or Marion if you like; as an artist, meticulous organization of documents, understandably enough, is not her 'forte'. (Sereny)

February 13, 1970: Speer to the Federal Archives:

Unfortunately, my friend Dr Rudolf Wolters has responded negatively about the Chronik . . . . I'm sorry not to have been more successful in this matter: but hopefully, future historians will find the material that does exist in the Federal Archives valuable enough as it stands. (Sereny)


From Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth by Gitta Sereny: Wolters had made a will in which he left his papers to the Federal Archives in Koblenz, with access restricted to researchers approved by his son Fritz, as his executor . . . . But in October 1982, the year after Speer's death, Wolters changed his mind and handed over the first six volumes of the original Chronik, followed a few months later, shortly before his death, by his correspondence with Speer. In July, 1983, Marion Riesser, whom Wolters had named his literary executor, offered the Federal Archives the balance if the Wolters collection, including the 'corrected' version of the Chronik. "I thought it was essential that they should have it," she said. She had been from the start very critical of Wolter's actions about the Chronik. "He started to work on it in 1964," she said. I told him, "You shouldn't cross things out--it isn't right. You are falsifying history." But he said the Chronik was his creation: he was the author of it and as such had the right to do with it as he wished. And I think he got legal advice on it too."

At Speer's Nuremberg trial, his organization's (and his) involvement with this aspect of the persecution of the Jews never came up . . . . Annemarie Kemp ... while remembering perfectly well the Jewish flats in Berlin, thought too much had been made of the episode late . . . . "Speer's responsibilities by then were enormous," she said to me in 1986. "This matter like many others would have been delegated; after all, he was particularly good at that; delegating. On the other hand, I don't think he would ever have realized that there was a moral aspect to this transfer of umpteen-thousand apartments. If he had noticed it, what he would probably have done is get rid of that particular assignment as being too troublesome, potentially embarrassing. He never looked to take on things which were likely to create problems for him. After all," she shrugged, "what he wanted was success."

June 1971: Speer gives an extensive, in-depth interview for Playboy magazine, in which, among other things, he says, "If I didn't see it [the Holocaust], then it was because I didn't want to see it."

May 24, 1971: Wolters, infuriated at Speer's statements both in Inside the Third Reich and his Playboy interview, writes him a scathing letter:

What on earth is the matter with you, that even after the unending admissions of guilt in your Reminiscences you cannot stop representing yourself ever more radically as a criminal for whom twenty years in prison was "too little"?

If you are really so convinced that "there can't be any atonement in this lifetime for sins of such huge dimensions," then there appears to be a vast and incomprehensible discrepancy between your humble confessions and your present way of life. For the former would lead one to expect a Speer in sackcloth and ashes; I, however, know you as a merry fellow who undertakes one lovely journey after another and who happily regales his old chums with tales of his literary and financial successes. Of course, I have nothing against the merry Speer, but contrary to this I have to say that both your public mea culpas and your accusations [not only against the active perpetrators but] against your former colleagues (Goering, Goebbels, Bormann, etc.) who, being dead, cannot defend themselves, are agony to me.

What are your friends to say when you describe yourself "morally fatally contaminated"? And always only you and always only in the restricted context of Germany, while you never, never take issue with the present wars and acts of horror being committed in the Near and Far East.

Your defense of the victors' court at Nuremberg must seem extravagant even to the former prosecutors of that show trial. But I can well understand. If you rejected Nuremberg, your crime thesis would collapse, and then what?

In this letter, my dear Albert, I am saying everything I think . . . . I hope and think that the day will come when you will no longer find it necessary to confess your sins to all and sundry in order to persuade yourself of your virtue.

But I propose that we put off seeing each other again until the end of this phase, i. e., when your exclusive interest in your rehabilitation has ceased. (Sereny)

June 5, 1971: Speer replies to Wolter's letter of May 24:

Your unusual letter requires an unusual and to me distasteful reply. In general it is customary in civilized countries and more than that, among friends, that a delinquent is given a chance to speak before being sentenced. I could say a great deal about the Playboy interview, but for the moment it is enough that I tell you that it was restructured, with words and formulations entirely foreign to me. Whole passages were clearly taken from the book and rewritten in the manner of bad ghostwriting . . . .

But on the whole the interview as printed corresponds with my opinions and I imagine that this is decisive for you. What I wrote in the book on the question of my guilt already angered you during the Spandau time. But it remains valid. Whether or not there are people who merely see this as opportunism is irrelevant to me. Your reaction, it is true, dismays me but I realize that, given your position in this matter from the start, it was perhaps inevitable.

To claim that my moral attitude is incompatible with my way of life is denying the fact that one can quite legitimately lead a good life despite or indeed because of such an attitude.

Besides ... I arranged more than a year ago a modification to my contract with Propylaen [Speer's German publisher, Propylaen/Ullstein] providing that much of my worldwide earnings be consigned to charity. It leaves me, after taxes, with about 12 percent of my earnings . . . .

I should be very glad if you decide one day to pull down the barrier you have now put up between us. I'm sure you will understand that this move can now come from me. Be well. (Sereny)

July 25, 1973: From a letter to Speer from his brother Hermann:

But all of you happily went along with that stupid hatred of the Jews. I remember you telling me in 1938 that you had suggested to Himmler to set up brickwork’s in Oranienburg [concentration camp] for the reconstruction of Berlin. And jokingly, you pointed out a precedent: "After all," you said with that total cynicism you habitually manifested toward moral problems, "the Jews already made bricks under the Pharaohs." (Sereny)

June 17, 1975: From the Second Oral History Interview with Paul Nitze, a member of the US Strategic Bombing Survey Team:

For ten days [in 1945] we motored out to Glucksberg from Flensburg every day and spent the entire day interrogating Albert Speer. Speer could speak English fairly well but obviously many of his records were in German and sometimes he liked to speak in German. His secretary did the translation and the transcription of the record of the interrogation. It became evident right away that Speer was concerned that he might be declared a war criminal. His best defense was to collaborate fully with us and so he leaned over backwards to collaborate fully with us. He not only told us, I think honestly, the answers to the questions that we had in mind but also directed us to where we could find the pertinent records of what he had done during the period, including his personal reports to Hitler from time to time. Many of these were in a safe in Munich. He gave us the keys to the safe and combination, and we sent somebody down to get these records.

That was a fascinating ten days where you could really get the substance of the answers to most of the questions that we had in mind. After ten days of these interrogations General Rook got a hold of me one evening and he said, "Paul, if you've got any further things you want to find out from Speer you'd better get him tomorrow, because I've got orders that the day after tomorrow I'm to liquidate this enclave and arrest all these people." So then I got a hold of my fellow USSBS directors and said, "What do we do? We've got one more day to make up our minds what further questions we want to ask Speer." I forget who suggested, "Well, you know there's really a deeper question, and that is, should we continue to ask him about the last days of the Hitler regime. It was clear he had left just a few days before Hitler committed suicide and he participated in all those last days of the Reich. So we decided to hell with business, this is more interesting. We had worked hard and we thought we'd really covered everything that was really important. So we got Speer that last day to tell us about his life with the Nazi party, particularly concentrating on the last days of the Hitler regime. It was an absolutely fascinating story...

1976: Speer publishes Spandau: The Secret Diaries to good reviews.

June 15, 1977: From an affidavit—made at the request of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies—sworn and signed at Munich on this day by Albert Speer:

Hatred of the Jews was Hitler's motor and central point perhaps even the very element which motivated him. The German people, the German greatness, the Empire, they all meant nothing to him in the last analysis. For this reason, he wished in the final sentence of his testament, to fixate us Germans, even after the apocalyptic downfall in a miserable hatred of the Jews.

I was present at the session of the Reichstag of 30th January 1939, when Hitler assured us that in case of a war, not the Germans, but the Jews would be annihilated. This dictum was pronounced with such certainty that I would not have felt permitted to question his intention to carry it through. He repeated this announcement of his intentions on 30th January 1942, in a speech I also know of: The war would not end, as the Jews imagined, by the extinction of European-Aryan peoples, but it would result in the annihilation of the Jews. This repetition of his words of 30th January 1939 was not unique. He would often remind his entourage of the importance of this dictum

When speaking of the victims of the bomb raids, particularly after the massive attacks on Hamburg in Summer 1943, he again and again reiterated that he would avenge these victims on the Jews; just as if the air-terror against the civilian population actually suited him in that it furnished him with a belated substitute motivation for a crime decided upon long ago and emanating from quite different layers of his personality. Just as if he wanted to justify his own mass murders with these remarks.

So long as Hitler had temperamental outbursts of hate, there was yet hope for a change towards more moderate directions. Therefore, it was the resoluteness and coldness which made his outbreaks against the Jews so convincing. In other areas when he announced horrifying decisions in a cold and quiet voice, those around him, and I myself knew that things had now become serious. And with just this cold superiority he declared also, when we occasionally had lunch together, that he was set to destroy the Jews in Europe.

In Summer 1944, the District Leader of Lower Silesia, Karl Hanke, paid me a visit. Hanke had distinguished himself by bravery in the Polish and French campaigns. He was certainly not an easily frightened person. Therefore it was of particular moment, when, at that time, he told me in a shocked manner, that monstrous things were happening in the concentration camps of his neighboring district, Upper Silesia. He said he was there and would never be able to forget what atrocities he had witnessed there. Admittedly, he did not mention any names, but he must have meant Auschwitz in Upper Silesia. From the agitation of this battle-hardened soldier, I could derive that something unheard of was happening, if it could cause this old party leader of Hitler's to lose his composure.

Hitler's method of work was that he gave even important commands to his confidants verbally. Also in the leader's records of my interviews with Hitler completely preserved in the German Federal Archives--there were numerous commands even in important areas which Hitler clearly gave by word of mouth only. It therefore conforms with his method of work and must not be regarded as an oversight, that a written order for the extermination of the Jews does not exist.

That the Jewish inmates of the extermination camps were murdered was established at Court (IMT), by witnesses and documentation, and in fact not seriously contested by any of the accused. Himmler's speech before the SS leaders of 4th October 1943, which clearly illustrated the happenings in the extermination camps, was not discredited as forgery by the defense, as it for instance happened with the 'Hossbach-Protokoll.'

Frank has never disputed the genuineness of his diary that by his own admission, he surrendered to the Americans on the occasion of his arrest. The diary contains remarks proving that the Jews in Poland were, except for a remainder of 100 000, quite annihilated. The accused also accepted these statements of Frank's and criticism was limited to the stupidity in handing over this incriminating diary to the 'opponents.'

Schirach confirmed in a confidential conversation already during the trial, that he was present at a speech which Himmler gave to the district leaders in Posen (on 6th October 1943), in which Himmler clearly and unambiguously announced that the projected killing of the Jews had been largely carried out. He returned to this subject, which weighed on his mind also during his imprisonment in Spandau.

In his final address to the Court, Goering spoke of the serious crimes which had been uncovered during the trial and he condemned the atrocious mass murders which he said escaped his comprehension. Streicher also condemned the mass murders of the Jews in his final address. For Fritzsche, also in his final address, the murder of five million was a horrifying warning for the future. These words of the accused support my contention that in the Nuremberg Trial the accused as well as the defense have recognized as a fact that the mass murders of the Jews had taken place.

The Nuremberg Trial stands for me still today as an attempt to break through to a better world. Still today I acknowledge as generally correct the reasons of my sentence by the International Military Tribunal. Moreover, I still today consider as just that I assume the responsibility and thus the guilt for everything that was perpetrated by way of, generally speaking, crime, after my joining the Hitler Government on the 8th February 1942. Not the individual mistakes, grave as they may be, are burdening my conscience, but my having acted in the leadership. Therefore, I for my person, have in the Nuremberg Trial, confessed to the collective responsibility and I am also maintaining this today still. I still see my main guilt in my having approved of the persecution of the Jews and of the murder of millions of them.

1978: The following is from a letter, one of hundreds, received by the Speer's as a matter of course:

You pig of a traitor: We have looked for you for a long time. You who as our Fuehrer's architect profited when he went from victory to victory. You, who planned to gas him and his staff when he defended our Berlin. You pig played the penitent, and barricaded in a villa guarded by dogs, betrayed us. Your lying scribbles show your true character ... with speechifying, toadying to the victors and sending money to Jewish organizations ... you are trying to get yourself readmitted to society ... you money grabbing pig . . . . When we put an end to you, no one will care. No one will shed a single tear. And we will put an end to you. Rely on it.

Gitta Sereny will later write:

At their Heidelberg home, Speer and his wife Marget, now both 73, have an iron gate out front, but it is always open. They also have a Saint Bernard dog that slobbers happily on one and all. The letter is postmarked from Lincoln, Nebraska and signed by 'The victims of October 16, 1946.' (Sereny)

1981: Speer publishes Infiltration: How Heinrich Himmler Schemed to Build an SS Industrial Empire to terrible reviews.

September 1, 1981: Speer dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in a London hospital.

1994: Speer's daughter, Hilde Schramm, a prominent European political figure who has distinguished herself by helping victims of anti-Semitism and Nazi atrocities, is awarded the Moses Mendelssohn Award. Note: Schramm is active in German politics, has served as vice president of the Berlin city council, and is a leader of the Green Party in Berlin.

September 24, 1996: Gitta Sereny is interviewed by Marilyn Powell about Albert Speer:

... it was many years afterwards that Speer approached me; I did not approach Speer. I'd read his two books, Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries. I was impressed by them. But I'd seen him on TV, and I decided, "Well, too many people are seeing him, I don't want to see him." By that time, I had a certain--you know, I was a bit known in England as a journalist, and I could have done a story on him, but I didn't want to. And then in 77, I got this letter from him after I did, with Lewis Chester from The Sunday Times, this expose of David Irving, the revisionist writer in England, who had written this book, Hitler's War, in which he claimed that Hitler had not known about the extermination of the Jews until October 43. Well, I mean this was just so absurd. And Speer wrote to me, and said that he had considered David Irving extremely dangerous. Well, then, he said, if ever I was near Heidelberg, would I like to come and see him? Well, I fought this, you know, for four months. And he kept pursuing me by telephone. And finally after four months of telephone calls from Speer and letters and books he sent me and articles which might interest me and so on and so forth, well, I said, "It's ridiculous, I'll go." I mean, you know...


March 13, 2007: " Letter proves Speer knew of Holocaust plan", by Kate Connolly in Berlin (The Guardian World News):

A newly discovered letter by Adolf Hitler's architect and armaments minister Albert Speer offers proof that he knew about the plans to exterminate the Jews, despite his repeated claims to the contrary.

Writing in 1971 to Hélène Jeanty, the widow of a Belgian resistance leader, Speer admitted that he had been at a conference where Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and Gestapo, had unveiled plans to exterminate the Jews in what is known as the Posen speech. Speer's insistence that he had left before the end of the meeting, and had therefore known nothing about the Holocaust, probably spared him from execution after the Nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war.

It helped earn him the name of "the good Nazi" and the image of a genius architect who had misguidedly slipped into Nazi circles to further his career. Instead of facing death as many top Nazis did, Speer served 20 years in prison, mainly for using slave labor.

In the letter to Jeanty, written on December 23 1971, Speer wrote: "There is no doubt - I was present as Himmler announced on October 6 1943 that all Jews would be killed". He continued: "Who would believe me that I suppressed this, that it would have been easier to have written all of this in my memoirs?"

Speer, who died in London in 1981, denied knowing about the Holocaust in his best-selling 1969 book, Inside the Third Reich, as well as in lengthy interviews with the British author Gitta Sereny, who wrote a biography on him.

The letter is part of a collection of 100 between Speer and Mrs Jeanty, an author, written between 1971 and 1981, recently found in Britain. They are due to be auctioned at Bonhams, London, on March 27.

December 21, 2007 Sünden des Vaters: From an interview by Der Speigal of Speer’s eldest son and namesake, a hugely successful and renowned architect and urban planner:

"I am 73, and at that age you become tired of always being treated as the son of someone else."

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