The Psychology of Albert Speer

Burrell, David, and Stanley Hauerwas. “Self-Deception and Autobiography: Theological and Ethical Reflections on Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich”.” The Journal of Religious Ethics 2, no. 1 (1974): 99-117. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40018102.

This article is a response to Speer’s book entitled Inside the Third Reich. It aims to summarize the narrative of self-deception that Speer created for himself in this novel and explains how Speer’s relationship with Hitler helped create this. Like most accounts of Speer’s guilt, the article begins by summarizing the policies that Speer enacted while in power. The use of Jewish slave labor, unquestioning devotion to Nazi ideas, and perpetuation of a world war are among the things that are mentioned to grab the attention of the reader. After this summary, the article explains how Hitler indulged the architectural dreams of Speer and gave him an opportunity to realize his creative aspirations. From this generous opportunity, Speer lost himself in his work and devoted himself completely to Hitler.

 

Hochman, Elaine S. “A Question of “Culpability”.” The Art Bulletin 79, no. 4 (1997): 738-39. doi:10.2307/3046288.

In response to Paul Jaskot’s article entitled Anti-Semitic Policy in Albert Speer’s Plans for the Rebuilding of Berlin, this article attempts to reconcile Speer’s oppression of Jews through urban planning by explaining his professional relationship with Hitler. Hochman elaborates on the idea that Speer was captivated by Hitler because of consistent praise and intense intimidation. Hitler viewed Speer as an extension of himself. As a result, Speer’s architectural inspiration was rooted in Hitler’s ideas of anti-Semitism and totalitarianism. Additionally, all Nazi officials were keen to gain favor with Hitler because it meant professional advancement. Speer was particularly good at doing this, so one can’t reasonably claim that his work was ever separate from Hitler’s influence. While Speer may have been guilty of falling under Hitler’s sway, the article maintains that he can’t be fully blamed for professional, independent anti-Semitism.

 

Kubarych, Thomas S. “SELF-DECEPTION AND PECK’S ANALYSIS OF EVIL.” Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology : PPP 12, no. 3 (09, 2005): 247-255,271-272. http://ezproxy.lib.davidson.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/218806575?accountid=10427.

This piece serves as a philosophical analysis of the methods that are used in self-deception. It begins with an assertion that evil actions don’t make people evil. Individuals can be manipulated or subordinated into performing any kind of evil action. Rather, evil people are constituted by evil intentions. The article uses Speer as a case study of self-deception. The portion about Speer begins with a very sympathetic explanation of his independence from Hitler, subversion of Hitler’s scorched earth policy, and his sympathy for oppressed groups. However, it elaborates on how Speer purposefully turned a blind eye to violent anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. The article references Gitta Sereny’s biography of Speer to explain the methods of manipulation used by Hitler. Not only did Speer view Hitler as his only means of professional legitimacy, but Hitler constantly used fear to subordinate Nazi officials. Kubarych believes that Speer felt true guilt for what he did but was too engrossed in his Nazi responsibilities to acknowledge the atrocities that he perpetuated.

 

Perrett, Roy W. “Autobiography and Self-Deception: Conjoining Philosophy, Literature, and Cognitive Psychology.” Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal 29, no. 4 (1996): 25-40. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44029406.

While this article very briefly mentions Albert Speer, it is useful to better understand the phenomenon of self-deception. It uses philosophical arguments to develop the claim that self-deception is a common phenomenon that cannot be delegitimized. Opponents to the concept of self-deception argue that it is a paradox. The article references specific autobiographies and contentious discussions to create a comprehensive case for self-deception as a moral excuse. The piece mentions Speer’s representation of himself in his autobiography as an individual guilty of evil actions, but not evil morals. By incorporating themes of confession and identity, the article successfully claims that self-deception is possible and common.

 

Waite, R. G. L. “Adolf Hitler’s Guilt Feelings: A Problem in History and Psychology.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 1, no. 2 (1971): 229-49. doi:10.2307/202642.

Even though this is primarily a psychoanalysis of Adolf Hitler, this article references Albert Speer frequently and mentions ideas that can be applied to Hitler as well as Speer. It begins by stating the author’s intentions of exploring how Hitler’s guilt and self-hatred can explain many of his actions. The piece walks through the unusual ways in which his destructive personality was manifested through his actions. While it only refers to Speer in the footnotes, it illuminates the role that Speer played in indulging Hitler’s narcissism, paranoia, and superstition. Hitler was fond of Speer’s architectural talent because he wanted to practice architecture himself. As a result, the article sheds light on how that unhealthy relationship led to destructive practices by both men.

 

Ward, Tony. “Totalitarianism, Architecture and Conscience.” Journal of Architectural Education (1947-1974) 24, no. 4 (1970): 35-49. doi:10.2307/1424205.

This article is a study of the nature of totalitarianism through an analysis of architectural practices in totalitarian regimes. While it references examples beyond Albert Speer’s practice in the Nazi regime, the article introduces the subject of totalitarian architecture by psychoanalyzing Speer. It asserts that all art, especially architecture, is politically charged. The article even goes so far as to diagnose Speer as a schizophrenic. Additionally, it references Freudian psychology to explain how Speer was able to make himself “disappear” morally. Hitler and Speer had a very intimate relationship, and this piece analyzes how understanding of that relationship may be applied to societal totalitarianism.

 

Wooton, Leland. “Albert Speer: How to Manage an Atrocity.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology 21, (1981): 21-28.

In this cautionary article, Wooton attempts to explain the managerial techniques used on Speer to explain how we can better avoid them in our modern society. The piece is inspired by an interview with Speer and uses a psychological approach to explain how Hitler was able to manipulate Speer into performing evil tasks. Additionally, it delves into the intricacies or Speer’s managerial techniques to explain how he was able to enact atrocities so efficiently. It begins by explaining how Hitler gave Speer boundless professional opportunities, and that this led Speer to fall under his sway. The article moves on to elaborate on how Hitler and Speer formulated a managerial system that was focused on results rather than authority. Most workers in Nazi Germany thought that their work was apolitical because they were focused on performing one task. Speer used several techniques to manipulate his subordinates into this mindset, but only after Hitler used them on him.