Gitta Sereny, the dark chronicler of Nazi Germany, spent many hours in conversation and correspondence with Albert Speer, the organisational genius of that regime. From this sprang her study of immorality, dishonour and ambiguous redemption, “Albert Speer: His battle with truth“. Gitta Sereny’s mother was also the wife of Von Mises from 1938. This connection sprang to life when Abert Speer sent her a clipping in 1977. The clipping was an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the theories of Von Mises.
Manfred von Poser recalled that Speer had two strong beliefs: a maximum of individual initiative at the expense of state power and a European Community. Whilst the latter may have been expressed in some dark, racialist principle, the former was stillborn within Speer’s thoughts and actions. It is pointless to ask if Speer was a libertarian: since these are principles arrived at through understanding freedom in all its forms, not the inchoate grasping of a malformed mind that understands the damage caused by the state he supported and the evil that it perpetrated.
Yet, Speer understood the failures of the state in some shape and form. He understood its inability to meet its requirements, its responsibilities and the monstrous outcomes of state planning. Not at the beginning of his career within the National Socialist movement, but a gradual awareness as his own responsibilities grew. Speer’s experiences show that a comprehension of state failure is insufficient without a moral framework. It is observing freedom through the wrong end of the telescope. Speer’s alternative did not champion individual liberty at the beginning. It was an instrument for achieving better outcomes and efficiencies. Perhaps during his process of coming to terms with what he did, Speer finally knew that freedom is a moral value. We will never know.