9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Definitively worth reading
, 17 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Walter Schellenberg: The Memoirs of Hitler's Spymaster (Hardcover)
Very interesting book. I was expecting a somewhat dense, even boring read, gladly i was wrong. The author keeps using the first person along the book, as if trying to promote his achievements, but that's a minor annoyance. What's of interest here however is the relationship of Schellenberg with Hitler's entourage, and the way he portrays characters such as Hitler himself, or Von Ribbentrop, but due to his post and obligations, mostly Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler, specially Heydrich. One is so used to the demonization of such characters, well deserved mostly, that it's easy to forget that they were human beings as well, with their own personality traits, flaws, and yes qualities as well. Schellenberg didn't lived long after the war, his memories were published shortly after his death, and this is essentially an updated edition.
This being said, i'll just add that regardless of the accuracy or not of some of the information (and according to the forewords by Allan Bullock and Richard Evans most of it is accurate, and confirmed), the visual manner in which everything is described, without overburdening you with irrelevant details, places you right in the middle of the action. The conversations between Schellenberg and Heydrich, his characterization of Heydrich, his morning horse rides with admiral Cannaris, and all the intrigue and political manoeuvres within the third Reich's security institutions is fascinating, while at the same time exposing in a clear manner the shortcomings of a totalitarian state and its "ego culture".
There are numerous interesting episodes in the book, some operations involving the British, Dutch, Soviet secret services, as well as the reaction to the Rudolf Hess's "episode" and several interesting views on the then geopolitical situation, but it's best not to spoil the book.
A fascinating read, written by someone who was in a position to witness most of the power games within the third Reich, and the deterioration of the war situation. It's well written, fluid, easy to read, not dense at all.
Schellenberg never apologizes for anything, and we should be thankful for that, for here we have essentially the footage of a camera that witnessed the inner workings of the third Reich's security and intelligence institutions, without making subjective judgements, or post-facto apologies - just relaying what it captured.
Definitively worth reading.
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