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Albert Speer - Differing Historical Interpretations

Uploaded by kankean_au on Aug 06, 2001

They are many factors influencing the different historical interpretations of Albert Speer. The most influential was Speer’s own character construction of himself in his defence at the Nuremberg trials. This view was held by a majority of historians until Matthias Schmidt found holes in Speer’s story. A large blow was dealt to Speer’s own construction of his role in Nazi Germany when the Walters’ chronicles were released containing various incriminating evidence. There are still a number of historians who prefer to view Albert Speer as the Good Nazi, even though most historians now believe that the image created by Speer of himself was self-serving and false.

Speer’s well structured and thought out defence shaped historical interpretation for years to come. At Nuremberg he presented himself as a pure technician and not involved in the politics or ideology of the party. He also claimed collective responsibility for crimes against Jews but also his ignorance of the Nazi intentions. As he stated at a later time: “I just stood aside and said to myself that as long as I did not personally participate it had nothing to do with me. My toleration for the anti Semitic campaign made me responsible for it.” This admission of guilt won a fair amount of sympathy from the court. The reasons he gave for being with the Nazi party was that he was taken by Hitler’s personality and also realised that if he was to achieve his dream as an architect he will have to sell his soul to the party. This image of Speer was to be accepted for a while by most historians and was given little attention. This was probably because Speer was a little less ‘spectacular’ than Hitler’s other henchmen. There were however some suspicions. John Galbraith, a member of the US team that debriefed Speer before the Nuremberg trial, said in Life magazine 1945 that Speer’s claims contained “elements of fantasy”. He also believed that Speer’s confession was a part of his “well developed strategy of self vindication and survival.”

Most historians believed in Speer’s testimonies until Wolters’ Chronicles were released. W Shirer The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960), A Bullock Hitler a Study in Tyranny (1962), and Joachim Fest The Face on the Third Reich (1970) all portray Speer as the good Nazi, the apolitical technocrat and a repentant German. Raul Hilberg, in The Destruction of the...

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Uploaded by:   kankean_au

Date:   08/06/2001

Category:   European History

Length:   4 pages (896 words)

Views:   1805

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