The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/s/speer.albert/shunning-knowledge


Speer, Albert.  _Inside the Third Reich_.  Macmillan, New York, 1970.
pp. 18-19.

   Quite often even the most important step in a man's life, his
   choice of vocation, is taken quite frivolously.  He does not
   bother to find out enough about the basis and the various aspects
   of that vocation. Once he has chosen it, he is inclined to switch
   off his critical awareness and to fit himself wholly into the
   predetermined career.
   
   My decision to enter Hitler's party was no less frivolous.  Why,
   for example, was I willing to abide by the almost hypnotic
   impression Hitler's speech had made upon me?  Why did I not
   undertake a thorough, systematic investigation of, say, the value
   or worthlessness of the ideologies of _all_ the parties?  Why did
   I not read the various party programs, or at least Hitler's _Mein
   Kampf_ and Rosenberg's _Myth of the Twentieth Century_?  As an
   intellectual I might have been expected to collect documentation
   with the same thoroughness and to examine various points of view
   with the same lack of bias that I had learned to apply to my
   preliminary architectual studies.  This failure was rooted in my
   inadequate political schooling.  As a result, I remained
   uncritical, unable to deal with the arguments of my student
   friends, who were predominantly indoctrinated with the National
   Socialist ideology.
   
   For had I only wanted to, I could have found out even then that
   Hitler was proclaiming expansion of the Reich to the east;  that
   he was a rank anti-Semite;  that he was committed to a system of
   authoritarian rule; that after attaining power he intended to
   eliminate democratic procedures and would thereafter yield only to
   force.  Not to have worked that out for myself;  not, given my
   education, to have read books, magazines, and newspapers of
   various viewpoints;  not to have tried to see through the whole
   apparatus of mystification -- was already criminal.  At this
   initial stage my guilt was as grave as, at the end, my work for
   Hitler.  For being in a position to know and nevertheless shunning
   knowledge creates direct responsibility for the consequences --
   from the very beginning.


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