Hitler biographer Fest dies

German journalist and historian Joachim Fest, who worked closely with Hitler’s architect Albert Speer on his memoirs and penned one of the best-regarded biographies of the Nazi dictator, has died aged 79.

German journalist and historian Joachim Fest, who worked closely with Hitler’s architect Albert Speer on his memoirs and penned one of the best-regarded biographies of the Nazi dictator, has died aged 79.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, where Fest worked for two decades until 1993, said Fest died of unspecified causes yesterday evening at his home in Kronberg.

Born in Berlin in 1926, Fest was drafted during the Second World War and served in the regular armed forces before being taken prisoner.

After the war he worked as a journalist in radio, television, newspapers and magazines. In addition to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he worked with several other respected German media outlets including Der Spiegel magazine, and Norddeutschen Rundfunk television.

He gained close insight into the inner workings of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich in working with Speer, the Fuehrer’s favourite architect who became minister of armaments during the war and was instrumental in keeping the Nazi war machine going until the end.

Speer was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Nuremberg tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Following Speer’s release from Berlin’s Spandau Prison in 1966, Fest worked with him as the general editor of his controversial memoirs published in 1970, Inside the Third Reich and later, in 1976, Spandau: The Secret Diaries.

Fest’s 1974 biographical portrait Hitler is widely regarded as the best, among many, on the Nazi dictator

Other works included Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich, which was the basis for the acclaimed 2004 film Downfall, The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership, and Speer: The Final Verdict.

There was no immediate word on survivors or funeral arrangements.

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