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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life after Nuremberg, 7 July 2011
This review is from: Spandau The Secret Diaries (Paperback)
As far as the world was concerned Albert Speer, Rudolf Hess & co. disappeared into prison not to be seen or heard of until the 60's. They were supposed to be grateful that they had not been hanged.
But they did live on. This is a fascinating daily bird's eye view of the appalling conditions these elderly men endured for the next 20 years (to life in Hess's case).
They were not allowed see their families for longer than 15 minutes a month, nor to touch them. They were not allowed talk to each other, were starved half to death, were denied telephones, tv, music or newspapers, etc. etc. These rules, like the anachronism that was Spandau prison, endured for the full length of their sentences.
Poor Hess committed suicide after living on alone in the fortress,a pawn in the great Cold War chess game.
The Soviet judges (i.e. Stalin) had voted for death for all of the defendants without exception. Standard practice in the USSR for the 30 years before Nuremberg.
Ironically, Speer, of all the defendants, was the closest to the criminal slave labour programme but greased his way out of the rope by feigning guilt and a horror with Hitler. The court needed to find a "good German" and Speer fitted the bill.
Other far less culpable defendants(Striecher, for example, who bowed out of Nazi politics in 1938) went to the gallows for refusing to accept a court comprised of Stalin's goons and vengeful Western executioners (all of whom had perpetrated the very crimes the defendants were charged with).
The purely military men like Raeder and Doenitz loathed Speer and refused to associate with him for the rest of their detention. Goering was horrified by his self-serving tactics at the trial.
Speer hung his fellow defendants out to dry and gave legitimacy to what the US Cheif Justice in 1956 called "a high-grade lynching party in Nuremberg".
He was however one of the most articulate and urbane of the high-ranking Nazis and his diary enries are highly readable.
Whether describing the complex interaction of the prisoners, the insanity of the conditions, his own architectural aspirations and legacy or his analysis and re-analysis of Hitler, Speer remains highly readable.
This is one of those books that anyone with the vaguest interest in the Nazi hierarchy will gorge himself on. It is also about the survival of the human spirit in a system designed to crush all hope.
The final image of Hess turning away from Speer to face life alone in Spandau is heart-breaking.
Engrossing, horrific, poignant and even occasionally funny. Don't miss this one.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Feb 2012 15:11:26 GMT
Doenitz, not Canaris (who was executed on Hitler's orders on early april of 1945) was one of Speer's prison mates in Spandau

Posted on 29 May 2013 09:03:04 BDT
Philip Dawes says:
Please do not accept statements made by 'the authorities.' They always lie to hide the truth, except where it is in their interest.
Rudolf Hess, a man of 93 years of age with severe arthritis, who had to be assisted by his male nurse to dress and undress, did not commit suicide. It would have been physically impossible for him to do so. He was murdered by the soldiers guarding him, no doubt under higher authority.
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