Albert Speer must have been one of the biggest cowards of the Third Reich. He refused to take responsibility for his actions and kept claiming he wasn’t aware of the Holocaust although he was instrumental in getting the concentration camps build, and he kept the war machine going.
Albert Speer is said to have prolonged the war for at least a year, with the consequent death of hundreds of thousands and widespread ruin. It also gave the Nazis more time to pursue their mass murder of Jews, Russians, Gypsies and others deemed not fit to live.
It was Speer who fueled Hitler’s delusional plans to turn Berlin in to the Capital of the world and rename it Germania.
He claimed to have been unaware of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. However, he used slave laborers from the occupied territories and concentration camps in the armament factories, the conditions were inhumane, brutal, and thousands perished.
Aside from this, there is ample evidence that Speer oversaw the eviction of Jewish residents in preparation for building the new chancellery and also that he was present for a speech by Heinrich Himmler in 1943 in which Himmler outlined quite clearly the Nazi’s plans for exterminating an entire people.
In January 1938, Hitler wanted a new Reich Chancellery built in time for a new year’s reception for foreign diplomats the following January. Speer broke ground in April and finished the project, furnishings and all, two days early.To accomplish this, he had up to 8,000 workers on site at a time in two shifts.
At Dora, where prisoners worked on German rockets in inhuman conditions, one doctor described the scene as like Dante’s Inferno. The local crematoria could not cope with the number of bodies and instead corpses were burnt in the open. At Auschwitz, Speer oversaw a significant expansion of the camp in 1942, to include 300 more huts, crematoria, morgues and “disinfestation facilities”.
The building project at the camp was dubbed “Professor Speer’s Special Programme” by the SS.The closeness of Speer to Hitler also raises significant doubts about his claim to have had only “vague sentiment” of the real purpose of the concentration camps. Speer, because of his straightforward manner, had been welcomed into Hitler’s inner circle.
They dined and watched films together, Speer’s family visited Hitler at his mountain home and for many years nobody had the ear of the leader more than the young architect. Hitler admired the intelligent, artistic Speer, while Speer worshipped the charismatic leader.
Hitler’s willingness to give Speer responsibility for huge areas of industrial production and military armament – ranging from mining and steel-making to developing new tanks and submarines, illustrates his trust. The men, both socially isolated and loners, appear to have had a genuine friendship – or as much of one as was possible with Hitler. In the last days of the regime, Speer even travelled to Hitler’s bunker to pledge his loyalty to the Fuhrer knowing he was planning his suicide.
After Hitler’s death, Speer offered his services to the so-called Flensburg Government, headed by Hitler’s successor, Karl Dönitz, and took a significant role in that short-lived regime.
On May 15, an allied delegation arrived and asked Speer if he would be willing to provide information on the effects of the air war. Speer agreed, and over the next several days, provided information on a broad range of subjects. On May 23, two weeks after the surrender of German forces, British troops arrested the members of the Flensburg Government and brought Nazi Germany to a formal end.
Speer became known after the war as the ‘Good’Nazi. At the Nuremburg war crimes trial, he accepted what he called “overall responsibility” for his role in the government, but deliberately distanced himself from Hitler and his psychopathic monsters.
On 1 October 1946, he was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. While three of the eight judges (two Soviet and one American) initially advocated the death penalty for Speer, the other judges did not, and a compromise sentence was reached after two days discussion and some rather bitter “horse-trading”.
As General Building Inspector, Speer was responsible for the Central Department for Resettlement. From 1939 onward, the Department used the Nuremberg Laws to evict Jewish tenants of non-Jewish landlords in Berlin, to make way for non-Jewish tenants displaced by redevelopment or bombing.Eventually, 75,000 Jews were displaced by these measures.Speer was aware of these activities, and inquired as to their progress. At least one original memo from Speer so inquiring still exists