Title: Spandau: The Secret Diaries
Author: Albert Speer
(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.