If merely the Foreword of Albert Speer's 1969 memoir Inside the Thrid Reich is little but useless drivel, the book cannot be trusted. Here we will add some comments following the various paragraphs in Speer's Foreword to his book, as it was translated into English by Richard and Clara Winston and published by The MacMillan Company.
“I suppose you'll be writing your memoirs now?” said one of the first Americans I met in Flensburg in May 1945. Since then twenty-four years have passed, of which I spent twenty-one in a prison cell. A long time.
Now I am publishing my memoirs. I have tried to describe the past as I experienced it. Many will think it distorted; many will find my perspective wrong. That may or may not be so: I have set forth what I experienced and the way I regard it today. In doing so I have tried not to falsify the past. My aim has been not to gloss over either what was fascinating or what was horrible about those years. Other participants will criticize me, but that is unavoidable. I have tried to be honest.
Here Speer admits that he has "tried not to falsify the past", as if he did falsify it. So he begins his memoir, the most important thing he would ever write in his life, and right from the start he excuses himself for trying not to lie. He only tried to be honest, and admits that he will be criticized for distorting things. This seems disingenuous, at best.
The year is 1969, most all of those who were close enough to Hitler were dead, Speer has had plenty of time to assess how his words may impact the Hitler narrative, so what possible criticism could he be afraid of?
One of the purposes of these memoirs is to reveal some of the premises which almost inevitably led to the disasters in which that period culminated. I have sought to show what came of one man's holding unrestricted power in his hands and also to clarify the nature of this man. In court at Nuremberg I said that if Hitler had had any friends, I would have been his friend. I owe to him the enthusiasms and the glory of my youth as well as belated horror and guilt.
Hitler the dictator: all guilt is on Hitler, and if anyone else is guilty it is only for just going along and accepting orders. So the second most important premise to Speer is based on the lie that Hitler and National Socialist Germany were guilty at all.
By saying "belated horror and guilt", Speer admits that his horror and guilt were developed after the war. So Germany's Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production indirectly admits being ignorant of things which would have directly affected his own realm of authority during the war. This is incredulous.
In the description of Hitler as he showed himself to me and to others, a good many likable traits will appear. He may seem to be a man capable and devoted in many respects. But the more I wrote, the more I felt that these were only superficial traits.
The impression which Speer gives of Hitler here is evidently from his own writing in 1969, and not from the actual experience he had with Hitler, or the persuasion he had in National Socialism, in the 1930's and 40's. To describe a man like Adolf Hitler merely as "capable and devoted in many respects" in 1969 after having had a long friendship and working relationship with him for many years is also very superficial.
Again Speer continues:
For such impressions are countered by one unforgettable experience: the Nuremberg Trial. I shall never forget the account of a Jewish family going to their deaths: the husband with his wife and children on the way to die are before my eyes to this day.
Here Albert Speer admits that his entire post-war Weltanschauung was formed not by his own actual historical experience, but rather by one supposed atrocity account which he had heard at Nuremberg. Yet he must have had the knowledge and experience to determine that the account was not true.
Once more, Speer continues:
In Nuremberg I was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. The military tribunal may have been faulty in summing up history, but it attempted to apportion guilt. The penalty, however poorly such penalties measure historical responsibility, ended my civil existence. But that scene had already laid waste to my life. It has outlasted the verdict of the court.
January 11, 1969
So Speer indirectly denies any historical resposnsibility for whatever things made Germany so guilty, grouses about his prison sentence and the end of his "civil existence" when so many of his colleagues were sent to the gallows, and whines about his wasted life. It would have been more noble of him to go to the gallows as well.
The Foreword to Albert Speer's Inside the Third Reich is written from an entirely Jewish post-war perspective. For that we are persuaded that it is for this that Speer was not sent to the gallows. He was much more useful to the Jews after the war than he ever was to Germany during the War.