Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (/ʃpɛər/; German: [ˈʃpeːɐ̯] (listen); 19 March 1905 – 1 September 1981) was a German architect who served as the Minister of Armaments and War Production in Nazi Germany during most of World War II. A close ally of Adolf Hitler, he was convicted at the Nuremberg trials and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Quick facts: Albert Speer, Reich Minister of Armaments and...
Albert Speer
Speer in 1933
Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production[lower-alpha 1]
In office
8 February 1942  30 April 1945
FührerAdolf Hitler
Preceded byFritz Todt (as Minister of Armaments and Munitions)
Succeeded byKarl Saur (as Minister of Munitions)
Reich Minister of Industry and Production
In office
2 May 1945  23 May 1945
Head of stateKarl Dönitz
Head of governmentLutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Inspector General of German Roadways
In office
8 February 1942  May 1945
Preceded byFritz Todt
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Inspector General for Water and Energy
In office
8 February 1942  May 1945
Preceded byFritz Todt
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Head of Organization Todt
In office
8 February 1942  14 April 1944
Preceded byFritz Todt
Succeeded byFranz Xaver Dorsch
General Building Inspector
for the Reich Capital
In office
30 January 1937  May 1945
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Born
Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer

(1905-03-19)19 March 1905
Mannheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
Died1 September 1981(1981-09-01) (aged 76)
London, England
Political partyNazi Party (1931–1945)
Spouse
Margarete Weber
(m. 1928)
Children6, including Albert, Hilde, Margarete
Parents
Alma mater
ProfessionArchitect, government official, author
CabinetHitler cabinet
Schwerin von Krosigk cabinet
Signature
Criminal conviction
Criminal statusReleased (1966)
Deceased (1981)
Conviction(s)War crimes
Crimes against humanity
TrialNuremberg trials
Criminal penalty20 years imprisonment
Details
VictimsMillions
Target(s)Slave laborers; Soviet prisoners of war and others
Imprisoned atSpandau Prison
Close

An architect by training, Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931. His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party, and he became a member of Hitler's inner circle. Hitler commissioned him to design and construct structures including the Reich Chancellery and the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg. In 1937, Hitler appointed Speer as General Building Inspector for Berlin. In this capacity he was responsible for the Central Department for Resettlement that evicted Jewish tenants from their homes in Berlin. In February 1942, Speer was appointed as Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production. Using misleading statistics, he promoted himself as having performed an armaments miracle that was widely credited with keeping Germany in the war.[1] In 1944, Speer established a task force to increase production of fighter aircraft. It became instrumental in exploiting slave labor for the benefit of the German war effort.

After the war, Speer was among the 24 "major war criminals" arrested and charged with the crimes of the Nazi regime at the Nuremberg trials. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, principally for the use of slave labor, narrowly avoiding a death sentence. Having served his full term, Speer was released in 1966. He used his writings from the time of imprisonment as the basis for two autobiographical books, Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries. Speer's books were a success; the public was fascinated by an inside view of the Third Reich. Speer died of a stroke in 1981. Little remains of his personal architectural work.

Through his autobiographies and interviews, Speer carefully constructed an image of himself as a man who deeply regretted having failed to discover the monstrous crimes of the Third Reich. He continued to deny explicit knowledge of, and responsibility for the Holocaust. This image dominated his historiography in the decades following the war, giving rise to the "Speer Myth": the perception of him as an apolitical technocrat responsible for revolutionizing the German war machine. The myth began to fall apart in the 1980s, when the armaments miracle was attributed to Nazi propaganda. Adam Tooze wrote in The Wages of Destruction that the idea that Speer was an apolitical technocrat was "absurd". Martin Kitchen, writing in Speer: Hitler's Architect, stated that much of the increase in Germany's arms production was actually due to systems instituted by Speer's predecessor (Fritz Todt) and furthermore that Speer was intimately involved in the "Final Solution".

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