Talk:Albert Speer

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Edits by Skirtsy[edit]

I have copied this material from my user talk page:

Currently, the Speer entry is based on "a handful of English-language biographies and histories . . . the kind of reading one would do if you were writing a historical novel". (The quote is from Richard Evans's scathing review of what he called "[p]ossibly the worst" biography of Hitler ever written). When you revert my edit, you restore a propagandistic portrait of Speer that contains untenable assertions based on information that is years, in some cases nearly a decade, out of date. Germans were susceptible to Nazi propaganda because the government was in total control; there is no excuse for you to be keeping the article like something out of Nazi propaganda organs.

Take one egregious example: Before my edit, the lede—the lede—contained this: "Speer was so successful that Germany's war production continued to increase despite massive and devastating Allied bombing." Turning to pp. 556–7 of Tooze's book, which was published six years ago, one discovers: "The German war economy after 1942 was limited by the same fundamental trade-offs that had restricted it since the first years of the war. And by the summer of 1943, these constraints, combined with the first systematic attack against German industry by Allied bombers, brought Speer's 'miracle' to a complete halt." And note Tooze refers to it as a 'miracle' rather than a miracle; you'd know why if you'd have read Tooze's book. It is your error-strewn, moth-eaten article that commits POV—a pro-Speer POV. The same point can be made about Speer's anti-destruction efforts and his purported concern for German civilians.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think the fundamental problem is your arrogance not enjoying my correcting your outdated knowledge. You might like to think you know what you're talking about, but I would encourage you to extend your reading beyond standard popular works before involving yourself further. Worse, even if Schwendemann's article is locked away in JSTOR, Tooze's book is available in any major bookshop. Skirtsy My talk Edits 20:03, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

-- Dianna (talk) 21:58, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

Thank you for that. I am happy to engage in a discussion as to updating the article, should it need it, and keeping in mind that newer is not always better.--Wehwalt (talk) 22:13, 28 July 2012 (UTC)
Anything ever come of this? Just curious... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Azx2 (talkcontribs) 05:53, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
No, nothing did.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:12, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
Too bad, I would've liked to have seen them defend their claims. I wasn't familiar w/ "Tooney's book," so I looked it up, found the Google book link to "The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy" and saw that it is billed even by the publisher as "controversial" ("Adam Tooze's controversial new book challenges the conventional economic interpretations of that period..."). Then I found an interesting review of it via Amazon (3-star review #1) that makes some strong claims against the author's intellectual honesty...

"The author of the book has a rather deterministic view of the possible outcome of the second world war. While I may disagree with him, I think that he presents his view with sound arguments, but he is not very intellectually honest (or maybe he doesn't know many statistical material concerning the second world war). My criticisms here concern mostly his coverage of the military aspects of the war, with of course, tend to be inferior to his coverage of economic aspects of the war, with are his specialty. He wants to defend his view that the outcome of the second world war was given as victory to the allies and that Germany didn't stand a chance of surviving a war against them, however he defends that view using distorted statistics...In several parts of the book he apparently selected his statistics to reflect his views..."

My point? I agree, like you said, newer is not always better, and beware books that the publisher pushes as being controversial or debate-stirring, and actually judge 'em on the quality of the scholarship and proficiency of the writing... Azx2 21:18, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Introduction to Albert Speer Article[edit]

I object to several sentences in the introduction of this article. I strongly disagree with "... he accepted responsibility at the Nuremberg trials and in his memoirs for crimes of the Nazi regime." Speer can't be accepting responsibility for the Nazi crimes while simultaneously denying any knowledge about the 10 million people who died in the camps. As noted by Gitta Sereny, if he had said something similar at Nuremberg, he would have been hanged.

Then there is, "His level of involvement in the persecution of the Jews and his level of knowledge of the Holocaust remain matters of dispute." This is written as if it were still "up in the air" whether Speer had as little knowledge as he claimed about the Holocaust. The view today that Speer didn't know Jews were being killed on a massive scale is about as popular with historians as holocaust denial.

Finally, the sentence, "As Hitler's Minister of Armaments and War Production, Speer was so successful that Germany's war production continued to increase despite massive and devastating Allied bombing," is very misleading. His appointment in early 1942 roughly coincides with Germany beginning mobilization toward total war and while the Allied bombing may have been "massive," it is simply incorrect to write it was "devastating" to the German economy. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey's exhaustive work after the war concluded that all of the bombing caused a production loss of around 12% to the Germans and most of this occurred in the war's last year.

Some insight into Speer's mindset can be shown by his support for the V2 rocket which voraciously took vital electronics and strategic metals away from the German Aircraft industry (Speer wouldn't be responsible for aircraft production until later. He not only supported this rocket project but was a champion of it even when Hitler was for its cancellation). He also supported the V3 gun which also plundered major resources -- thousands of tons of concrete -- from the Atlantic Wall but never fired a shot. This article has no mention of any of this.TL36 (talk) 05:43, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

The phrasing in the lede is very careful. "for crimes of the Nazi regime". Not all crimes, just crimes. Which he did. He made a general claim of responsibility as an adviser to the head of state. He did not admit to responsibility for the specifics, like the six million. If you can supply a few sources for the rest of it, I'll see what can be done.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:07, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
The thing that made my mind up about his knowledge of the Holocaust is the question of the Hungarian Jews. As you know, the decision was taken by Eichmann in April 1944 to deport all of the Hungarian Jews. By the end of June 380,000 people had been sent. Speer meanwhile knew that Himmler had promised Hitler 100,000 workers for the underground factories for the armaments industry. Correspondence between Milch, Kammler, Speer, and Himmler shows that Speer was aware of this promise. Only about 20-25% of the people sent from Hungary were deemed fit enough for work. The rest were killed, at the rate of 6000 people a day throughout the summer of 1944. Speer knew that the vast majority of the people arriving were not suitable for work. (Sereny, pages 420, 421, 464, 465 of the paperback edition). He definitely knew about the plan to provide the 100,000 workers, so to me it's inconceivable that he did not know about the fate of the others. But the problem is, he never admitted to knowing, so whatever conclusions that I may draw is WP:OR. If we can find a selection of historians who conclude one way or another, we could present these opinions as historians' conclusions. But we will never know for sure unless we can prove he was at Posen or Wannsee, or new material comes to light. If Sereny doesn't know for sure, after her many years of interviews and research, we likely will never know for sure either. -- Dianna (talk) 19:30, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Harvard's Erich Goldhagen, Dan van der Vat, and Matthias Schmidt all believe Speer was at Posen during Himmler's speech. Gitta Sereny wrote, "There is simply no way Speer can have failed to know about Himmler's speech, whether or not he actually sat through it." Dianna, why are you writing Gitta Sereny doesn't know for sure?TL36 (talk) 05:20, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
That is why I've been so cautious about adding stuff. The principals are dead, the records long since thumbed through by every grad student who cares to, and all recent scholarship has been is rearranging the deck chairs. We know roughly the same about Speer today as, say, in 1985. This is a biography. I don't like adding theories. This article is designed to give people the basic info about Speer in an organized, neutral, and engaging manner, or at least I hope so. It sailed through FAC four years ago and I've maintained it since. I checked JSTOR this afternoon. There isn't much new stuff out there. Speer is always going to be interesting to people because of who he was and what he did and who stared over his shoulder, fascinated, as he worked on his architectural plans. Incidentally, I am also convinced he knew quite a lot through friends like Hanke and other Gauleiters, but he didn't care. His life was his work. He had no empathy with people dying out of his sight.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:15, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
When people read "crimes of the Nazi regime," they think of the camps. I believe the majority of people who read the sentence, "As 'the Nazi who said sorry',[a] he accepted responsibility at the Nuremberg trials and in his memoirs for crimes of the Nazi regime," are going to come away with the idea that Speer apologized at Nuremberg for the death camps which is untrue. I hope you can give that sentence greater clarity.
I surprisingly had trouble finding a source online for the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) percentage they estimated that Allied bombing reduced German production. I don't presently have access to my original source which was the 1970 edition of Encyclopaedia Americana. There are lots of sources that give figures for individual items such as aircraft production.
On pages 115 and 116 of "The Strategic Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945" by Alan J. Levine, it states "the Allies may have reduced the growing German output of armaments by about 5.5 percent. Speer later put the figure, dubiously, at 9 or 10 percent." These figures are for the period of the war up to the end of 1943. (The excessive internet address messed up the page so I'm not including it. You can find these pages on google books.)
Concerning aircraft production, there is this from the USSBS report
pg.7: Prior to the end of 1944 there is little evidence that lack of engines or of necessary equipment or of basic materials led to any critical shortages of finished aircraft. Even the widely publicized attacks against the ball bearing industry, which were supposed to pinch off a vital accessory to the building of aircraft and aircraft engines, failed to produce even as a temporary setback.
pg. 97: Dr. Werner reported in September 1944 that up to that time only about 5% of machine tools equipment had been destroyed by bombing.
http://sturmvogel.orbat.com/airrep.html
This isn't the material I wanted but I hope you can see from it that the Allied bombing wasn't "devastating" during the period that Speer grew production.TL36 (talk) 03:59, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I guess it's how you define the term devastating. I don't have my Speer books in front of me right now but as I recall the choice of targets was somewhat questionable, giving Speer a chance to rebuild and work around things. However, by late 1944, the Allies had gotten smarter about bombing and were bombing critical resources. Do you know when that report came out?--Wehwalt (talk) 17:35, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I note you didn't reply to my comment that "crimes of the Nazi regime" has people thinking of the death camps and makes the sentence misleading. I believe the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey(USSBS) report has more than one version. I've seen dates of September 30, 1945 and July 1, 1946 (This latter printing probably includes the bombing of Japan). "The Strategic Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945" by Alan Levine was published in 1992 and I believe it to be a scholarly work. The air raids finally had a devastating effect on the oil supply and brought German armaments production to a halt but not until well into 1945. My main points are the attacks didn't have much effect during the period when production increased threefold and the Germans had not mobilized until after Speer had gained the appointment.TL36 (talk) 19:11, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
He denied specific knowledge of the Holocaust, indeed. But he said he and other high officials were generally responsible. Is there language you'd like to propose? As for the report (which was based in part on what Speer had to say at Flensburg, I believe), the factors that led to the increase are set forth in the article. There was certainly plenty of bombing, and it was devastating, but the Allies were inefficient in their bombings until, as you point out, the second half of 1944.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:46, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
Sorry if I'm becoming a nuisance, but are we going to change the "Speer was so successful ... despite massive and devastating Allied bombing" sentence? I'm not aware of pointing out that Allied bombing started being efficient in the second half of 1944.TL36 (talk) 00:13, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
It was devastating to the population, but not as much to industry as the Allies had hoped. However, I'll scrub the adjectives.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:18, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry but the resulting sentence with "so successful" is not satisfactory since it continues to perpetuate the myth that Speer's performance as Armaments Minister was remarkable. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that "because the German economy through most of the war was substantially undermobilized, it was resilient under air attack." — Preceding unsigned comment added by TL36 (talkcontribs) 23:27, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
His biographers would have had access to that report, no?--Wehwalt (talk) 23:42, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
They certainly could have accessed that part of the survey but that doesn't mean any of them read it and even if they did, it may have been of little consequence. The great focus on Speer by the biographers has been his level of involvement with mass murder on a grand scale and not whether he did a great job as the German Armaments Minister or was just competent. Speer researchers had a massive amount of material to look at it. I believe the Nuremberg trial transcript alone is around a quarter of a million pages. Adding the USSBS to their research material would not be a priority. We are presently having computer networking problems and my health problems have flared up again, so I may be out of touch for a period.TL36 (talk) 11:50, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I am very sorry to hear that and wish you a speedy recovery. I will use the interval to get my Speer books out of storage. I have the ones he wrote on the shelves in my rec room but will have to dig for the other books. Let me see what attention they give to the points you mention, and if they cite the report. On the first sentence, would "general responsibility" work better for you? All the best,--Wehwalt (talk) 12:21, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

If you're looking at "Inside The Third Reich," be sure to read the first few pages of Speer's recollections on his dealings with Hitler concerning the V-2 & Waterfall rocket. The story begins in earnest at the bottom of pg. 364. Speer doesn't tell the story in chronological order and leaves out the fact that he almost certainly could have gotten the V-2 canceled in 1942 when Hitler was quite negative on the program. However, Speer would have enraged his colleagues in the Army if he had.TL36 (talk) 14:09, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
OK, I will look at them next couple of days now. Hope you are doing well.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:27, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for the compassionate words. I'm not going to be active on Wikipedia for at least the next six weeks because they're starting me tomorrow on an intravenous antibiotic treatment because of a bone infection (What looked like a simple toe nail infection has spread to the bone. This is due to being immunocompromised from my cancer treatment). Considering the way my efforts have gone to improve the Albert Speer article, maybe I should restrict myself to blood cancer articles.TL36 (talk) 06:50, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
I am very sorry to hear that. We are discussing it, there are no deadlines on Wikipedia, and these things can take time.--Wehwalt (talk) 07:04, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Admission of responsibility[edit]

I think the current article conflates three things:

  • Admission of criminal responsibility (guilt)
  • Admission of moral responsibility
  • Repentance (remorse)

These three things are related (one cannot express remorse without admitting at least some responsibility) but they are not one and the same. One can admit moral but not criminal responsibility. One can admit responsibility but not express remorse. Currently, the lead says: As "the Nazi who said sorry",[a] he accepted responsibility at the Nuremberg trials and in his memoirs for complicity in crimes of the Nazi regime. This conflates all these things. If we say that he accepted responsibility for (complicity in) crimes... it follows that he admitted guilt. We know he pleaded not guilty. He admitted moral but not criminal responsibility. Thus the current sentence it misleading. Furthermore, the way it is worded, it confuses remorse and admission of responsibility. Without lengthy discussion of this latter confusion, I will propose an alternative wording. At the Nuremberg trials he pleaded not guilty but admitted moral responsibility for Nazi atrocities as one of Hitler's "closest associates", and expressed repentance.

What do other editors think? I think corresponding changes are also required in the main body, but the above sums in a nutshell my approach, for which I seek input. I have not read a lot on Speer, and thus may have missed some things. Cheers. - BorisG (talk) 16:24, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

However sincere or otherwise Speer's admission of responsibility, he was unique among high-level Nazi leaders in making one. That needs to remain stressed. Obviously he pleaded not guilty at Nuremberg; had he not, and had he not very ably defended himself with Flaschsner's help, I dare say he would have died there.. I hesitate to use the word "repentance", though, Speer may not deserve it. I personally do not think he was sincere, but that's only my opinion. I would suggest reading more about Speer, his books and the major biographies should be readily available.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:48, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
I have not mentioned sincerety; not sure this is relevant to the issue I've raised. Repeantance is the word used by the Nuremberg Trials article. It may not be precise but it is sourced. Anyway, I withdraw my suggestion as too radical. Instead I am proposing to insert a single word 'moral' to avoid being misleading. Cheers. - BorisG (talk) 17:32, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

/* Nuremberg Trial */ intention to kill Hitler - add tabun gas and several other important details and cite in 1970 edition of Inside the Third Reich[edit]

Just a heads up that I slightly edited the /* Nuremberg Trial */ section to clarify the specific poison gas Speer claimed to intend to use originally was tabun. I also noted that in addition to justifying not going ahead w/ the plan based on construction of the high wall (actually a chimney - guess that needs to be edited, too), Speer cited tabun's alleged-impracticability for the application (claiming it required an explosion to make "effective") and contended they had no ready access to a replacement gas. I cited this information to the appropriate pages of the 1970 edition of Inside the Third Reich, which is what I'm reading from. One thing that does concern me, however, is Speer's claim that the tabun would've had to have been exploded and was inert otherwise. This is not factually correct and may raise additional doubt about the sincerity of Speer's claim to have planned to kill Hitler, though I was not sure it merited inclusion in the article given the relative space accorded to this episode. Azx2 18:04, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

I do not think we need to go into that much detail. No problem with your additions although I will probably tweak it. But I agree, the details of the supposed plot need not be endlessly dragged out. Speer made the claim, no one could disprove it, we place it in appropriate context, and move on.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:18, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your response. I see that as of now the specific mention of tabun stands in the article and I appreciate your leaving it in, as I think it provides an interested reader with an opportunity to obtain additional knowledge and detail w/o requiring them to read more than a few additional words (replacing "poison gas" w/ a wiki-linked "tabun" - they can click thru to tabun and read more about it if so inclined). Anyway, that's all. Just wanted to express some positive sentiment...Cheers. Azx2 05:29, 1 August 2013 (UTC)