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Athol Murray writes from Norway with some questions about Albert Speer



Points on Albert Speer

I AM going to be a pedant and point out that in The Virus House you use the name Rönneberg instead of the correct Norwegian spelling Rønneberg (pronounced slightly differently). I would also like to ask if you have ever considered writing about the 1940 Winter War or Continuity War, these wars are often overlooked in the west (we don't want to admit that our allies the Soviets were also waging wars of aggression against democratic lands) and Finland is demonized by the left wing for her alliance with Germany.

Furthermore it is relatively unknown in the UK that many here were more afraid of the soviets than the NSDAP. Hence, so many joined the Waffen SS (the largest foreign volunteer army in modern history).

I enjoyed your book Hitler's War and wonder what you thought of Albert Speer's memoirs? (don't know the English title -- but in Sweden it is Albert Speer och sanningen.)

Athol Murray

 Related file: Letter from Alan Heath, Poland

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David Irving comments:

THE Albert Speer memoirs volume was written not by him but by a panel of three writers, who consulted him (Wolf Jobst Siedler, Annette Etienne, and Joachim Fest).

His original memoirs, written in Spandau, were never published. He read them out to me in part one afternoon in the 1960s, which is why I know this. See the record of my conversation with Albert Speer on Oct 11, 1979: "... I sat yesterday evening next to the former Reichsminister Albert Speer at the dinner party given by the publishers Langen-Müller Verlag, at Frankfurt. ..."

Almost ten years later I visited film maker Leni Riefenstahl. After giving me a private showing of her cinematic masterpiece, Triumph of the Will, she showed me a curious document -- a Xerox copy of the actual contract signed between Albert Speer and his (and my) publishers Ullstein Verlag in Berlin. There was one significant difference between the agreements that I signed with that venerable firm, and the one signed by Speer for his memoirs which Riefenstahl showed to me: under Speer's contract he agreed to donate one-quarter of all royalties and proceeds to the State of Israel.

This may well have explained the world-wide literary applause for his volume. "Damn, I wish I had thought of that," is one phrase that comes to mind. The US publisher incidentally found the UK version of the memoirs unacceptable, and insisted on major changes, as comparison of the two versions will confirm.

For those people sceptical of Speer and his legend, I recommend heartily the book by Mathias Schmidt, Albert Speer, The End of a Myth, published by St Martin's Press in New York in 1984. It was I who in 1982 found him this publisher, and SMP asked me to write the jacket "puff" for the book, which I did.

Years later, SMP's chairman Tom McCormick thrice denied in the press ever having known me, and stated that if they had known "who I was" they would never have signed the contract for my Goebbels biography. He appears to have forgotten the occasions when he dined with us in London, and the other books by me that SMP had published. But that, as they say, is another story.

Speer had none of these problems, and we now know why.

* Albert Speer : das Ende eines Mythos: Speers wahre Rolle im Dritten Reich (Scherz Verlag, Berne, 1982)

 © Focal Point 2003 David Irving