Review of “Inside the Third Reich” (Albert Speer)

First of all a warning, this is a superbly written book. Behind the apparent clumsiness of the style lies a skilful writer who very carefully builds his message.

Reading Albert Speer’s prose is sometimes hard, but on the whole he gives a very “objective” account of the events. Things, events seem to happen all around Speer, the fact that he is at the very core of Hitler’s machinery playing an instrumental role does not spring out from the story.

There are two salient features in his message. He is only critical of the figure of Hitler once it is clear the war has been lost. Before that he is undoubtedly a great admirer of the man. Second, he is a technician, not a politician.
Speer’s ability to question the nazi regime’s methods and ends seems to have been dormant for the most part of his time in power, which by the way was not particularly short.

It is important to understand these two messages to then understand the book. Speer is no Nobel prize winner, but his insights into Hitler’s power machinery are fascinating. For instance the seemingly simplistic circle of men surrounding the dictator, the lack of sophistication, even the absence of “normal” characters, all are signs that a great nation like Germany was being run by a group of weird individuals. One does not have to be a genius to realise that something went horribly wrong in the 20’s in Germany.

This is a great book for those who would like to understand how intelligent and sophisticated individuals can be charmed by strong leaders. It is actually strange to notice that throughout the book Speer still talks of Hitler in an admiring tone, albeit referring to the Hitler before the war.

A fascinating, dark book.


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