A half hour later, the GI returned with a middle-aged man, short and heavyset, bespectacled with a big nose, looking every bit the Jew from all the old anti-Semitic posters, only instead of wearing a black banker’s suit and a bowler hat, he was in US Army combat fatigues with a .45 strapped on his hip.
The GI said, “Major Spivak, I present to you, Reichsminister Albert
Speechless, Major Spivak stared at Speer. Finally he muttered, “Holy Cow!”
Speer stood up from his desk. “Good afternoon, Major,” he said,
pleasantly as he could. He thought about extending his hand in
greeting, but realized he shouldn’t.
Major Spivak didn’t return his greeting but continued to look at him with
nervous distaste. He was thinking the same thing as everyone else;
this man I’m talking to is Hitler’s...best ...friend!
Finally he recovered enough to say, “Sergeant Fassberg says you’d be
willing to be interviewed.”
"Yes, whatever you’d like to know,” answered Speer. “It’s about
strategic bombing you say?”
"Yes, the economic and other effects of daytime strategic bombing on the
German war economy.”
"Please, have a seat,” said Speer. “I’m sorry I cannot offer you any
coffee or other refreshment.”
Brusquely Major Spivak shook his head, like it was neither expected nor
desired. They sat down and both men began undoing the snaps of their
shoulder bags and took out notebooks and manila file folders.
“Sergeant, do you have the file on the abrasives industry?” asked
"Right here,” answered Sergeant Fassberg, handing him a sheaf of papers.
"All right, let’s start,” said Major Spivak.
He spent the next three hours asking Speer very detailed questions,
first about abrasives and oil baths and then about specialty steels
and problems with machine tools and manufacturing different kinds of
screws and fasteners, nearly all of which Speer was able to answer
easily from the top of his head.
Though it was obvious Major Spivak continued to regard Speer with extreme
discomfort, he nevertheless conducted the interview with complete
professional detachment. He’d ask questions, write down the
answers, ask follow ups and write those down as well. In the end, as
he sat looking over all his pages of notes, he turned to Speer, and,
shaking his head with amazement, declared, “Well, Sergeant Fassberg
was certainly right, Herr Speer. You’re definitely the mother
Then, for one very long moment, Major Spivak stared blankly ahead, while
inside him the angels of light and darkness battled each other.
Finally he looked at Speer and with the tiniest hint of cordiality
asked if he’d be willing to undergo a more detailed debriefing by
senior members of the Survey team.
"Why certainly,” said Speer. “I’d be happy to cooperate in any way I
"Good,” said Major Spivak. “I’ll let the guys know. We’ll be in touch.”
They left without shaking hands or thanking him.
Speer went back to the castle feeling strangely let down. The Americans had
come to him like heavenly messengers, only to vanish with the same
abruptness with which they’d appeared. It had been the first time
in months anyone had come seeking his expertise and even if Major
Spivak had not been terribly courteous, he had at least acknowledged
that Speer had something no one else had. He wondered what he’d
meant when he said his colleagues would be “in touch.”
Baumbach, on the other hand, saw it as a clear sign that his friend’s bad
fortune had reversed. “Well congratulations, Albert. Now they’ll
have no choice but to bring you into their new administration. It’s
just like what they’re doing with those rocket scientists from
Peenemunde. You’ll probably get flown out to Okinawa to join
Curtis LeMay’s intelligence staff.”
"We’ll see,” said Speer.
"I’d say this calls for a drink, Albert.” They settled into another
night of drinking and storytelling and by the end of it, the whole
episode became just a half-remembered jumble in Speer’s mind.
(Excerpt from Germania, Simon & Schuster, 2008, Kindle version available here).