Talk:Albert Speer

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Featured article Albert Speer is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on December 13, 2008.
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October 19, 2008 Peer review Reviewed
October 28, 2008 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article


Who is Hanke[edit]

There are six mentions of Hanke in the article.

The first is that Hanke recommended the young architect to Goebbels to help renovate the Party's Berlin headquarters. Basically Speer's introduction to the NAZI Party.

But nowhere is a definition of who Hanke is.

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Sorry, this is the first time I attempted to influence Wikipedia. I wouldn't attempt to edit the article because I don't know who Hanke is. Just pointing out a deficiency.

2601:206:8000:4751:72F1:A1FF:FEE6:FCA1 (talk) 08:33, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Thank you for pointing that out. I am sure it was in the article at one time, but may have been edited out. I have fixed that and also deleted your personal information to protect your privacy (and, as an administrator, hidden the revision in which you revealed it). You may wish to consider getting an account, it is quick and easy.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:00, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
No, Speer attended a speech by Hitler while still at university. He met Hanke at a later date.HammerFilmFan (talk) 15:08, 19 March 2017 (UTC)

Unsourced material[edit]

Preserving here by providing this link; please see edit summary for rationale. In general, it seems odd that an FA would have such unsourced content. K.e.coffman (talk) 05:24, 8 May 2017 (UTC)

I added the sources and restored the material. The original consensus to include this information was from about five years ago when it was merged in from a service record article. -O.R.Comms 15:09, 8 May 2017 (UTC)

Over-reliance on Speer's memoirs[edit]

There are 30+ citations to Speer's memoirs, with some presenting content from Speer's writings in Wikipedia's voice. For now, I've reduced the trivial material (which books Speer read, how long his walks were, etc): diff. Please let me know if there are any concerns.

Suggest revisiting to introduce 3rd party sources. Any feedback on this? K.e.coffman (talk) 01:58, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

I've reverted, pending discussion. Most of these are no controversial and the information derives from Speer in any case so a third party source will have taken Speer's word for it.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:27, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
What purpose does this content serve in the article? K.e.coffman (talk) 02:31, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
It tells Speer's bio, for example what he did for almost 20 years in Spandau, doing his world walk. I would have no objection if you wanted to re-source it to a different source, say a bio of Speer, but wholesale cuts seem a bad idea in a FA.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:33, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
To illustrate my point, this anecdote is sourced to Speer:
  • According to Speer's post-war memoirs, his political rivals (mainly Göring and Martin Bormann), attempted to have some of his powers permanently transferred to them during his absence. Speer claimed that SS chief Heinrich Himmler tried to have him physically isolated by having Himmler's personal physician Karl Gebhardt treat him, though his "care" did not improve his health. Speer's case was transferred to his friend Dr. Karl Brandt, and he slowly recovered.[1]

References

  1. ^ Speer 1970, pp. 330–313.
Who knows whether it's true or not? I don't think we should be taking Speer's word for this, in absence of other sources. Likewise, it's doubtful whether 3rd party sources would cover in detail what types of books he read in prison or the different libraries he procured them from. This type of content strikes me as undue. I would love to hear what other editors might think. K.e.coffman (talk) 03:40, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
It says inline that Speer is the one saying this. It's been a while since I wrote it, but from the way I phrased it, I had doubts. The problem on a lot Speer's interactions with highers-up during the war, no one survived to contradict him. I don't think we should delete it, just let the reader make their own judgment based on what we have.--Wehwalt (talk) 08:03, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

The Memoirs of Albert Speer have been extensively studied and analyzed over the past 20 to 30 years, even more so since he has died. Most everything he said in the Memoirs have been verified independently as being mostly true. For those areas which are exaggerated or he didn't tell the complete truth (such as the slave labor program) historians have been very apt to point it out and there are numerous references showing this as well. There is no legitimate reason that I can see to challenge his Memoirs as a source for this article. -O.R.Comms 17:10, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

Exactly: Speer's memoirs have been studied extensiveley, but what were the results? The article suggests: His books, most notably Inside the Third Reich (in German, Erinnerungen, or Reminiscences[136]) and Spandau: The Secret Diaries, provide a unique and personal look into the personalities of the Nazi era, and have become much valued by historians. As a matter of fact, however, Speer's image was, according to de:Magnus Brechtken, who is about to publish a book on Speer by the end of the month, shaped "by his own writings and interviews" and "by a small number of mainly journalistic biographies that became highly influential in the public mind. These key texts were written not by academic historians, but by journalists, most notably Joachim Fest and Gitta Sereny." Martin Schmidt's Ph.D. thesis on Speer in 1982 "should have destroyed whatever remnants there were of Speer's credibility, but they had little effect on public attitudes." "Significantly both [Fest and Sereny] failed to recognize the fundamental corrections available that should have informed any critical biography." Brechtken recognizes van der Vat's book as being more critical than Sereny and Fest, but notes, that "it does not offer a full deconstruction of the Speer myth." (Persuasive illusions of the Self: Albert Speer’s Life Writing and Public Discourse about Germany’s Nazi past, in: Birgit Dahlke, Dennis Tate, and Roger Woods (eds.): German Life Writing in the Twentieth Century, London: Camden House 2010, pp. 71-91, here pp. 73-4, 85.) Martin Kitchen is even harsher on Fest. He calls Fest's biography of 1999 (English ed.) "a rehashing of Speer's memoirs, which was their joint effort. ... Fest's admission of guilt was every bit as circumspect as Speer's. In many ways they were kindred souls. Both found it exceptionally hard to admit to any wrongdoing." (Speer. Hitler's Architect, Yale UP 2015, p. 11) In other words, not only is it a problem to rely on Speer's memoirs, it is also problematic to rely on Fest's and Sereny's accounts. Moreover, that Speer's writings themselves have become an object of historiographical analysis is not reflected in the article. I could provide a bunch more citations from German historiography. The issue has been subject of some debate, after Heinrich Breloer's TV movie Speer und er was shown in 2005. An exhibition on Speer has just opened in Nuremburg. It puts a keen focus on the historical forgery commited by Speer with the assistance of Joachim Fest and publisher Wolf Jobst Siedler. As historian Alexander Schmidt put it, Speer's memoirs were written by three authors. Well, what more legitimate reason could there be to challenge Speer's memoirs and Fest's biography as a source for anything, than historical forgery?--Assayer (talk) 18:16, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
  • From a glance at the citations, this article relies extremely heavily on Speer, Fest and Sereny. If there are concerns that none of the sources is reliable, it is my suggestion that the concerned editors put the article up for FAR. There is no point reducing a featured article through normal edits to below FA standards, since this will inevitably generate opposition (after all, the community has already "certified" the article). If it's 90% crap, you might as well come out and say it. I am in no position to judge either the sources in question or Assayer's representation of the secondary literature. Srnec (talk) 01:52, 16 May 2017 (UTC)
One step after another. This article has been written by someone who does not read German and was promoted to FA status in 2008. And to be fair, you can only be as insightful as the literature you are using. On the other hand, the archives of the talk page feature several instances of criticism along the lines that I have just outlined. So let me give a couple of examples of what is at stake here. One of the legends Speer purported is the (propaganda) story that the new Reich Chancellery was planned and built within a mere 12 months. As Angela Schönberger showed in her Ph.D. of 1979, published as Die Neue Reichskanzlei von Albert Speer. Berlin 1981, planning for the building started as early as 1934. In March 1936 Speer already charged some preliminary payment for his work on the New Chancellery. Fest still clings to the "propagandist lie" as does Dan van der Vat. Why? We do not know. Or take the eviction of Jewish tenants from Berlin. Fest, Sereny and van der Vat claim that Speer was merely aware of it. They all ignore that the whole process did not start in 1939, but with a meeting in September 1938, at which occasion Speer presented his ideas. In other words, Speer initiated the evictions. For these examples of criticism levelled at Speer's biographers see Isabell Trommer: Rechtfertigung und Entlastung. Albert Speer in der Bundesrepublik, Frankfurt/M.: Campus, 2016, p. 273. An almost classic Speer is how he managed to put the blame for slave labor mostly on Sauckel. He already did this successfully in Nuremburg, and he continued to do it, wrapping it up in some form of appealing self-criticism, all the while skipping over the fact, that Sauckel was his subordinate and that it was him who ordered the slave laborers that Sauckel delivered. These insights by historians have been largely ignored by Fest, Sereny and van der Vat. And sure enough, this article also features Sauckel as the sole culprit: Rather than increasing female labor and taking other steps to better organize German labor, as Speer favored, Sauckel advocated importing labor from the occupied nations – and did so, obtaining workers for (among other things) Speer's armament factories, often using the most brutal methods.
Since this article relies heavily on biographies who do not wholly demystify Speer, this article is not up to the challenge of Speer's mystifications. Instead there is a section Legacy and controversy, as if there is anything controversial in disproving Speer and Fest. The lead section remains completely silent about Speer's lies. It is not a good idea to suggest to let the reader make their own judgment based on what we have , if you only have half the information or even less.
There is now a critical biography of Speer by Martin Kitchen, which has received positive reviews. Furthermore, Rolf-Dieter Müller's important study of Speer's rise to prominence and his struggle to implement a 'total war' armaments policy during the war from 1999, featured in Vol. V, Part 2 of Germany and the Second World War was published in English in 2000. So the article can be rewritten, probably pointing at the problems of Fest's narrative, and possibly be saved as FA. I won't do it, because I am not a Speer specialist and I do not find his biography particularly appealing. Let's hear what others think.--Assayer (talk) 18:02, 17 May 2017 (UTC)
  • Thank you everyone for their comments. I ended up at this article in a rather circuitous way. I was looking for information for a potential article on the Luftwaffe in popular culture. Instead I stumbled on Jägerstab and Rüstungsstab (both of which Speer created and supervised in the final 12+ months of the war; hence my additions to this article).
Specific to the discussion at hand, I am concerned that the current presentation is not neutral. Speer, of course, had valid reasons for obfuscating his role in the slave labour program / the Holocaust, chief of them avoiding the death penalty at Nuremberg. To illustrate my point, the narrative in the article described the final 17 months of the war (link) as follows: In Jan 1944, Speer falls ill and is on leave for three months. Himmler and Bormann are plotting against him. Speer has a row with Hitler, but they make up. Germany is defeated. The end.
The section that I added (Consolidation of arms production) deals with 1944 in much more detail. It’s understandable that Speer would want to skip over the topic of the massive scale of transfer of armaments production underground: life expectancy on such construction projects for the majority of prisoners was 4 to 8 weeks. One of the sources that I use specifically states that after the war he claimed that only 300,000 sq m of underground space were completed by the end of the war, while in fact the number was six times that, and by Nov 1944.
A separate matter is excessive detail, which contributes to the non-neutral presentation of Speer’s biography: i.e. the libraries that he borrowed his books from, his political decorations, the party ranks that he held, etc. (see: Albert_Speer#Career_summary, with four subsections). In the absence of a substantive discussion of Speer’s role in armaments production, they are immaterial and / or undue.
I note that the article achieved FA status 8 years ago and much more research has been published in English since then. For example, two of the sources I cited were published in 2010s. I think that the goal should not be to get the article delisted, but to improve it through normal editing. I'm looking for feedback. K.e.coffman (talk) 02:53, 20 May 2017 (UTC)
That is true. I did a lot of the writing on it, and I had limited sources as well. Additional scholarship would be very useful, though I suspect it will bear more on Speer's professional performance, as architect and as minister, than upon the minutiae of his biography, much of which is beyond fact-checking. We're just not going to find out more about a conversation Speer had off the record with someone who died in 1945. We let the reader know Speer's the source on this, and after that it's for the reader to sift through and form a judgment.--Wehwalt (talk) 07:16, 20 May 2017 (UTC)
As for the career summary, I would gladly see that gone. It wasn't in the version of the article that passed FA. However, they were added over the years by good faith editors who, when you revert them, appear and argue for their positions, and sometimes you have to pick your fights. The detail for example about his imprisonment is a different story. There is, or was, public interest in the circumstances of his imprisonment or his diary would not have been a best seller. And it's twenty years of his life.--Wehwalt (talk) 07:31, 20 May 2017 (UTC)
I rewrote the section on the new Reich chancellery. What I said about Speer putting the blame on Sauckel is more difficult to figure out, because it relates to Speer's responsibility for the use of slave labor during the war. That needs to be clarified.--Assayer (talk) 10:05, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

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