Sinning like Albert Speer


21 February 2008 Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent
Luke 16, 19-31 Omission


Albert Speer was a talented young man who became part of the entourage of Adolf Hitler. He was Hitler’s architect of the Third Reich with projects like the District Headquarters, the Chancellery and the Propaganda Ministry in Berlin and the Parade Grounds of Nuremberg. His famous work is the balcony on which Hitler presented himself to the crowds that assembled below it.

After his architectural stint, he was appointed Minister of Armaments and War Production when the former minister, Fritz Todt died in a place crash in 1942. As minister, he was able to multiply armament production four times and thus extended the war for more than two years despite Allied bombings.

But it was known that as a young man, Albert was apolitical --- and even claimed to continued to be so after his imprisonment. He was concerned more about his family and about his welfare. At the Nuremberg Trials, he admitted his complicity and expressed remorse. According to his memoirs, he adopted a ‘see no evil’ policy towards Nazi crimes. He learned about Auschwitz and purposely avoided the camp. He was aware of the atrocities of the Holocaust but claimed to having no direct involvement in them.

Our tendency is to think about Hitler when we sin. But we are more like Speer: he was not brutal or cruel, nor was he operating from a heart full of hate. Many of us are more or less kind and faithful in our duties; coming to church as often as we can. Our focus is our love for a family and our welfare; without much heart for the welfare of others or our country in general --- unless our immediate families are affected.

But Speers sin is not so much about what he did, but about what he did not do. Much like the rich man who feasted and ignored the needs of Lazarus.

We complain a lot about our government. But what we don’t realize is this: by taking everything sitting down enclosed in our own domestic world, we become party to the crime.

2 comments:

Dennis L. said...

Your story propagates the myth that Speer was not a willing participant in the Final Solution. Documents have been found with Speer's signature detailing his involvement in the expansion of the Auschwitz extermination camp. He was aware of what was going on but his ambitions overrode his humanity. Let the victims of German slave labor attest to his role as a perpetrator.

Jessel Gerard said...

HI Dennis,

Not really. Yes, he knew about it, that is why he avoided the camp. The point is this: his fault is precisely that he did not do anything about it, thus, he has tolerated it. He could have done something, but didn't. That is the same sin as the Rich Man: they did not bother to love. As you have said, his ambitions overrode his humanity. The same thing here in the Philippines: by not doing anything about the country's situation and the government's blatant corruption (many people now are tired and apathetic), we contribute to the perpetration of the unjust structure. I think we are on the same boat. Thanks for dropping by.