If Hitler had a friend, it would have been Albert Speer. Dashing and worldly, Speer became one of the superstars of the Third Reich. Afterwards, the Nuremberg Trials gave him a stage on which he could shine again: he now became the good Nazi. Among the accused, he was the only one to openly welcome the trials as necessary duty. With disarming conviction, he told his prosecutors that he was neither involved in nor aware of the Holocaust. Saving himself from execution, he was sentenced to only 20 years of prison. At Spandau Prison he wrote his biography, which became a best-seller all over the world. The darling of talk shows, journalists and historians, he died in 1981.
The theory he propounded, and which was eagerly adopted by millions of Germans , went like this: If the Minister of Armaments, who was at the center of power and virtually Hitler's closest friend, failed to know about the Holocaust and about Hitler's murderous plans, how could the rest of the German people know anything? Speer presented himself as the living proof that Germans were perhaps guilty, but only against their will: innocently guilty....
Yet Hitler's architect and master of the Wehrmacht was far from innocent. He was in no way a mute cog in this hellish machinery. Indeed, Speer had authorized many of the construction projects with the concentration camps. During the final days, he worked tirelessly to keep the armament industry running and to ensure supplies to the front until the bitter end.
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