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Spandau: The Secret Diaries was written by the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, Albert Speer. This book was the product of this individual's effort to retain his strength and sanity during twenty years' near-solitary confinement through feats of self-discipline and moral reeducation.

"...these thousands of notes are one concentrated effort to survive, an endeavor not only to endure life in a cell physically and intellectually, but also to arrive at some sort of moral reckoning with what lay behind it all." --Speer

Over the years of confinement, Speer secretly wrote his memoirs in a minuscule scrawl on tobacco wrappings, pages of calendars, and toilet paper. Under constant peril of cell searches, he concealed his notes in the sole lining of a shoe and in the bandage wrapped around his leg to relieve his phlebitis, and managed to persuade sympathetic guards to smuggle them to the outside world.

At the stroke of midnight, October 1, 1966, Speer was released. Waiting at home of relatives were the 25,000 pages of his notes.

"...I shied away from looking at that mass of papers which is all that has remained of my life between my fortieth and my sixtieth years. There are various reasons for my presenting this journal now. But ultimately it is an attempt to give form to the time that seemed to be pouring away so meaninglessly, to give substance to years empty of content.

Diaries are usually the accompaniment of a lived life. This one stands in place of a life." --Speer


Other works of Albert Speer:


Inside the Third Reich

Title: Spandau: The Secret Diaries
Author: Albert Speer
ISBN: 0-671-80843-5
(Translated from German by Richard and Clara Winston)

By the end of WWII, Albert Speer held the position of Minister of Armament in Nazi Germany. At Nuremberg, he was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment in Spandau prison in Berlin. In addition to Speer, Spandau also housed Rudolf Hess, Erich Raeder, Walther Funk, Baldur von Schirach, Konstantin von Neurath, and Karl Dönitz. During his twenty years at Spandau, Speer secretly kept a diary in order to keep him busy, which, in addition to letters sent to his lawyer and family, in the end amounted to more than twenty thousand pages.

This book does not contain all of Speer's entries and correspondence, but rather a representative collection of them, chosen by Speer himself. The diary has been stripped of numerous entries which would only have served to illustrate the monotony of his life in Spandau. What is left is his description of everyday life in the prison, from the day he arrived until the day he was released. There are musings regarding his activities during the war, Adolf Hitler and the relationship between his fellow inmates. The first entry is written the day he receives his sentence, the last one on the day he is released.

It is interesting to read Speer's description of the little things which defined the days in Spandau. There is much about the quarrels and disagreements between some of the prisoners, together with observations about the prison authorities, especially the Soviets. On the other hand, Speer has also written some about episodes he can remember from before Spandau, most of them involving Hitler or other Nazi officials.

While one might think that a diary spanning twenty years might be boring, Speer has only retained the interesting bits, giving the reader a unique look into the mind of one of the most important leader of the Third Reich. However, according to the German historian Ulrich Schlie, Speer has littered his diary and memoirs with a number of large and small lies in order to build a picture of himself as a repentant Nazi who acknowledged and accepted responsibility for his actions. Nevertheless, the book does provide a unique opportunity to peer into the mind of Albert Speer and what life was behind the walls of Spandau.

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