I decided to pluck Gitta Serenys book 'Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth' off my shelf today after reading an article about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, in which Speer is quoted from his dubious memoirs 'Inside the Third Reich' as having Hitler say:
Hitler was “highly annoyed” by Owens's series of victories. Speer added: “People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive, Hitler said with a shrug; their physiques were stronger than those of civilised whites and hence should be excluded from future Games.” https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/jess-owens-anniversary-luz-long-rio-2016-olympics-berlin-1936-nazi-games-7166831.html
I raised an eyebrow to this. As we know Speer is hardly a reliable source, and has been exposed before by Matthias Schmitt and David Irving. Seeing as I don't have Schmitt's book I wondered if there was anything about the Olympics in Serenys book, because as we know the much quoted story of Hitler snubbing Owens has been exposed for the lie it is. Instead, as I glanced the Appendix, I came across something called "Human Furniture". This peaked by curiosity and flipped to pages 309-310. This is the passage:
Martin was sixty when we met first in 1990, when I attended a therapy group composed of children of high-ranking Nazis. A former priest who had become a teacher, he was a tall man with iron-grey cropped hair, an ascetic face and-although he could be very funny and both he and his wife, Cordula, love to laugh-an essentially grave mind. It was at this group meeting, part of a project initiated by the Israeli psychologist Dan Bar-On to help the children of Nazi "perpetrators" cine to terms with their backgrounds, that Martin told an appalling story which we repeatedly discussed later.
That day in 1944, he was at home on the Berghof on holiday from his Bavarian boarding school at Feldafing. In the morning he was busy, as usual during the holidays, running errands for his father and Hitler, carrying films, photographs and maps to and fro. One afternoon, however, Frau Potthast invited his mother to bring him and his younger sister Eike to her new house for tea. He remembers the house as standing "in a wild sort of garden. She gave us chocolate and cake; it was nice."
Later, Frau Potthast said she would show them something interesting, a special collection Himmler kept in what had become his special lair. She led the way up to the attic. "When she opened the door and we flocked in, we didn't understand what the objects in that room were-until she explained, quite scientifically, you know," Martin said, his voice now toneless. "It was tables and chairs made of parts of human bodies. There was a chair. . .the sear was a human pelvis, the legs human legs-on human feet. And then she picked up a copy of Mein Kampf from a pile of them--all I could think of was that my father had told me not to bother to read it as it had been outdated by events, [Speer had told me that Hitler had said exactly the same thing to him.] She showed us the cover-made of human skin, she said-and explained that the Dachau prisoners who produced it used the Rückenhaust, the skin of the back, to make it." He said they fled, his mother pushing them ahead of her down the stairs. "Eike was terribly upset," he said, "and I was too." It hadn't helped them much, he said, when his mother, trying to calm them, told them that their father had refused to have the book in the house when Himmler had sent him a similar copy. Not much more than a year later, when it was all over, Martin now a penniless fifteen-year-old refugee on a mountain farm in Austria who didn't know where his family was and whether his mother and siblings or his father were alive, saw photographs in a Salzburg newspaper of the horrors that had been discovered in the concentration camps. "people said that the photographs had to be fakes, but I knew it was all true," he said, his face red with stress. "After what I had seen in that attic I had no doubts at all, ever. . . ." "The swine," said someone who was present as the story was recounted. "to call those people swine," said Bormann's son, "is an insult to swine.") Albert Speer: His Battle with truth, pp. 309-310
So. This is obviously a very dramatic horror story. Something that's quite common when discussing the Holocaust. However I cannot verify nor deny this. After all it's a statement, whether there's any truth to this or not I'd surely like to know. If anyone has any thoughts on this please contribute to the thread. Although to me this reeks of something fishy.
Gitta's book is filled with anecdotes like this, flip to any page and you'd find something. According to page 154 Speer reflects on an event in 1937 when he should've decided Hitler was a psychotic mad man when he was planning the building of a Giant stadium which didn't fulfill Olympic standards. He claims Hitler decided that the Olympics would forever be held in this Grand German Stadium and they, the Germans, would decide the new Olympic rules.
On one of the many occasions when Speer talked about how at the outset he could not see Hitler for what he was, he described his own process of reassessment. “In the spring of 1937,” he said, “Hitler said something to me that should have made me realize the extent of his megalomania. He came to my Berlin showrooms to look at the seven-foot-high model of the stadium. Talking about the Olympic Games, I pointed out to him that the athletic field did not conform to the proportions prescribed by the Olympic Committee. ‘That’s immaterial,’ said Hitler. ‘In 1940 the Games will be held in Tokyo, but after that, for all time to come, they will take place in Germany, in this stadium. And then it is we who will prescribe the necessary dimensions.’
“Thinking of this later, it was almost incredible to me that this didn’t open my eyes. I was after all a sportsman, passionately interested in the Olympic Games since childhood, and I knew perfectly well that the whole universal concept of the event presupposed a change of venue every four years. How could he have thought he could bend the powerful world of sports to his will? How could he have wanted it? How could I not have realized that day that he was mad? Well, I didn’t; I can almost still see myself smiling in admiration at his prophetic words. He had drawn me into his madness.”
On 14 May 1953, Speer wrote to Hilde from Spandau:
. . . There is such a thing as mass hypnosis which–we have seen it before in the life of nations–can have incredible consequences. Let me remind you only of the witch-hunts of the Middle Ages, the horrors of the French Revolution, or the genocide of the American Indians. . . . In such periods there are always only a very few who do not succumb. But when it is all over everyone, horrified, asks, “For heaven’s sake, how could I?” Albert Speer: Hiss Battle with Truth, pp. 154
And lastly, another one of these anecdotes which has to do with Hitler's humour. It speaks for itself.
“After he made me Minister, the whole environment changed. Certainly for the first months I saw him virtually only formally–at his office, and at lunch in Berlin or at Führer HQ, where he was surrounded by his staff, rather than as before, over supper and afterwards with his ‘family’, who had no need to engage in intrigues. It was in this formal environment that he was surrounded by intrigues, people vying for his favour, for assignments, for jobs and for acceptance of plans and projects, one always in opposition to another and to the detriment of others. He himself was fairly naïve about it. He either didn’t recognize, or else simply didn’t accept, the reality of these court intrigues. Although, very annoyingly, he would often deliberately duplicate assignments, forcing people to compete, I don’t think it was an emotional game, playing people off against each other, such as many rulers in history have done. Not because he might not have enjoyed it, but rather because–as I have said before–he simply didn’t understand the nature of intrigue. Just as, although he loved to laugh, he didn’t understand anything but practical jokes–those could make him laugh until he cried.”(An example of Hitler’s simplistic sense of humour is Speer’s description of an occasion in 1943 when Ribbentrop’s Foreign Office colleagues wanted to present their Minister for his fiftieth birthday with a beautiful handmade casket filled with photocopies of all the treaties and agreements he had concluded. “We were thrown into great embarrassment when we were about to fill the casket,” Speer quoted Ribbentrop’s liaison man at Führer HQ, Ambassador Walter Hewel, as saying to Hitler. “There were only a few treaties that we hadn’t broken in the meantime.” Hitler’s eyes, Speer wrote, filled with tears of laughter.) - Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, pp. 307
This is interesting in that it questions the idea that Hitler was this almighty master manipulator who was keeping power by pitting his Nazi 'minions' against each other. But it also has the effect of implying with it's suggestion bias that the leading Nazis, Ribbentrop and Hitler of course, were unscrupulous liars who broke treaties and enjoyed it to be cruel. Thus they cannot be trusted. In this way, whoever reads this would always have that inkling sense of doubt about what the Germans really wanted to achieve. Was the goal the Holocaust? Some think it was ever since Hitler joined the DAP in 1919. Or maybe war at all cost? Also supposedly Hitler's goal from the NSDAP inception. Or was it to be evil for evil's sake? This is all on the minds of those that read these books. What does this make you think of? How and why would this be a funny practical joke? Clearly it's a joke and I would think for that reason it prods Ribbentrop with this sense of self awareness that isn't particularly sinister. In any case, i'm eager to know what others think.
You can get a free epub version of the book here https://libgen.me/item/detail/id/5c63f98b50b4253978ab43fa i'd suggest using a VPN or something though.