Sunday, May 24, 2009

Albert Speer - The Apologetic Nazi

To get an idea as to this conversation, this is regarding Albert Speer who was tried during the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46.


While I was watching the television docudrama: Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial(2000) for (may be) the third time, Albert Speer is, was and shall be the most interesting person in the trial.


I totally agree that a docu drama should never be totally relied on for historical facts. For eg; in this movie, Justice Jackson after sparring words with Hermann Goring (thereby placing the case in a precarious situation) , considers leaving the case and Germany and is at the point of asking the President of United States to send in a replacement. But then the subsequent scene shows him arriving late for the next session of the case with his colleagues wondering as to his delay. And his delay is not explained for in the movie.I am sure it is a trivial point which might have even slipped most viewer's attention. But then that is because (in reality) Justice Jackson left for the US in a moment of self doubt and in fear of jeopardizing this historical case but then returned to Nuremberg to do his best with regards to the prosecution.


Coming back to Albert Speer. My perception of him kept changing each time I watched the movie, thereby making him a fascinating character.


My first impression was that of a man who might have feigned repentance in order to procure a lighter sentence.


But then, when I watched the movie again, I wondered if it is possible that the ex- Nazi man could actually be truly remorseful for all the atrocities committed during the Nazi regime.


This was a man with a very impressive educational background. A man who made the leap from being an architect to being a Minister of Armaments in the Nazi regime to being a philanthropist who anonymously donated 80% of his earnings to Jewish charities.


A documentary on his biography would make a far more riveting and powerful insight into understanding the innate beauty of human nature despite the temptations of power and wealth.


I understand that I might be getting a little preachy here.


But this man who has been lured by the enticement of power to simply turn his head the other way when the Holocaust was committed actually realized the monstrosity of what they have committed and had the integrity to accept his responsibility unlike other Nazi leaders like Hitler and Goring who blatantly denied the knowledge of 10.5 million innocent people being 'exterminated' by their own officers. They preferred to euphemistically term concentration camps as protective custody!


Albert Speer was sentenced to 20 years in prison (1946-66) where in he wrote 2 autobiographies:Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries which became international best sellers. He donated 80% of the proceeds to jewish charities, anonymously as he feared rejection of his donations.


The more I read about him, the more I was convinced that here was a man who was truly repentant. His daughter Hilde Schramm who communicated regularly with him while he was in prison (their letters form the material for Spandau: The Secret Diaries) went on to become an active member of German politics and who has been awarded for the active efforts in helping victims of antisemitism.


I would love to read his books should I ever lay my hands on them.


Btw, Albert Speer had one more endearing trait. Apart from being actively involved in gardening, and with the draft memoir complete and clandestinely transmitted, Speer sought a new project. He found one while taking his daily exercise, walking in circles around the prison yard. Measuring the path's distance carefully, Speer set out to walk the distance from Berlin to Heidelberg. He then expanded his idea into a worldwide journey, visualizing the places he was "traveling" through while walking the path around the prison yard. Speer ordered guidebooks and other materials about the nations through which he imagined he was passing, so as to envision as accurate a picture as possible.Meticulously calculating every meter traveled, and mapping distances to the real-world geography, he began in northern Germany, passed through Asia by a southern route before entering Siberia, then crossed the Bering Strait and continued southwards, finally ending his sentence 35 kilometers south of Guadalajara, Mexico!
 -Sirisha

 PS: Google Search has been my Watson in unraveling details about Albert Speer. and of course a special thanks to Wikipedia :)

 





2 comments: