LETTER: Hitler and the Holocaust on Albert Speer's conscience

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The Independent Online
THE extract from Gitta Sereny's fascinating book about Albert Speer ("With Hitler on his conscience", Review, 3 September) reminds me of an interview I had with Speer at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which I covered as a foreign correspondent. By chance, I sat opposite Speer at a table during a party, and over dinner asked him if I could interview him on tape. I told him that the interview would be very hard. He agreed, and we made an appointment.

I began by telling him that I wouldn't have been at the party if I had known that David Irving (according to whose very special version of history Hitler knew nothing about the Holocaust) was at the same time giving a lecture at the Book Fair, which had been arranged by German neo-Nazis. Because Speer and I had talked only German, he asked me if I knew the meaning of the English word bullshit. Then he asked me: "Do you accept that I know more about Hitler than David Irving?" I agreed, and Speer said: "Irving's statement that Hitler knew nothing about the Holocaust is bullshit. Hitler ordered the Holocaust, and supervised it. The idea that Himmler would, or could, have carried out the Holocaust without Hitler's orders is bullshit!"

A man of Speer's position had to know all about the Holocaust while it was happening.

Edwin Roth

London NW3