Working towards a Bachelor of Arts, Simran writes articles on modern history, art theory, religion, mythology, and analyses of texts.
Albert Speer was a paramount example of how some individuals enabled to manipulate events to their advantage. His charisma and cunning intellect allowed him to rise to prominence throughout and after his Nazi career. Establishing connections with Nazi members catalyzed a relationship with Hitler, crucial in advancing his political career. Immediate action after the death of Fritz Todt assured him the place of Armaments minister (1942.) The use of labor allowed Speer to consolidate his position of Armaments minister. His autobiography ‘Inside the Third Reich’ (published in 1970) allowed him to become successful and financially able after his prison sentence. Ultimately, Speer’s astute response to those events highlighted how he was not simplistically swept by events.
Who Was Albert Speer?
Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) was a German architect who was, for most of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for Nazi Germany. First beginning off as a lecturer without any interests in politics, Speer was drawn to Hitler's oral skills and decided to support the Nazi Party. Eventually, Speer became one of Hitler's closest friends.
Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office. During the Nuremberg Trials Speer insisted that he had been completely ignorant of the Holocaust or the cruel treatment within concentration camps, despite visiting concentration camps such as Nordhausen.
Instead, Albert Speer acted morally responsible for the crimes of the Nazi Party, which resulted in a jail sentence where he spent his last days. He had released memoirs that became a best seller in Germany, which allowed Germans to claim they had no clue about the events of the Holocaust either.
Numerous historians such as Gita Sereeny have released books about Albert Speer, claiming that Speer was speaking the truth, whilst many refute the idea of Speer not knowing of the Holocaust, such as Richard Overy.
Albert Speer and Hitler
Speer utilized events to his advantage in order to become a prominent political figure. How impressed Hitler was an integral part of his rise to prominence. His manipulation of events was driven by his charisma. From driving party officials in Berlin during the July election campaign, he befriended officials, such as Karl Hanke. Speer regarded this as the luckiest turning point of his life. He skillfully used this opportunity to become recognized by the party. For instance, Hanke had offered to redecorate Goebbels’ headquarters in Voss Strasse. Opportunistically he accepted which lead into a chain of events that according to historian Fest took their own course.
This included the opportunity to design the First Nazi party rally in Nuremburg (March 1933), concluding in gaining Hitler’s interest. This was clear from Hitler’s daily visits to Speer and regular contact through dinner parties. Speer was enabled to use this to his advantage to build a relationship with the Fuhrer. This also extended his political career to ‘commissioner for the artistic and technical presentation of party rallies and presentations’ (1933.)
As an aftermath, Speer was able to develop a stronger connection to Hitler that advocated his prominence in the Nazi party. Therefore, it is clear that Speer had utilised and used events to create a deeper his connection with Nazi members to further his political career.
Albert Speer: The Nazi who said Sorry
Albert Speer as Armaments Minister
Speer was an ambitious mastermind in manipulating circumstances to further his career. The death of Minister of Armaments and War Production Fritz Todt was a prime example of how he took advantage of circumstances presented to him. For instance, after Fritz Todt had assigned Speer to fix roads in Ukraine (27th of December 1941) his plane crashed in 1942.
Instantly, Speer took advantage of the situation and approached Hitler before the position was to be taken by Goering. He utilised the event and his sycophant connection with Hitler to advance his political position. As expressed in his memoirs, Speer recounted how the Reich Marshal attempted to undermine Speer’s authority over workers who were loyal to Todt.
In response, Speer fought to gain absolute power over armaments (January 13). This allowed him to develop a prominent role in the Nazi party, providing evidence that as an opportunist he took advantage of events that were presented to him. Therefore, due to the circumstances of Todt’s death, Speer had an effective ability to manoeuvre the position of Armaments minister to his advantage.
Albert Speer at the Nuremberg Trials
Albert Speer and Concentration Camps
While prisoners of concentration camps were swayed into a routine of labor, Speer was able to manipulate the labor to his advantage. In order to pave way for the ‘Germania project’ buildings had to be removed demonstrating how the result of the ‘Jewish flats’ worked in his favor. Sereny suggested that his ambition overshadowed human cost. This explained Speer’s ability to manipulate the Jewish deportation to Lodtz and Minsk and the national pogrom of the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ (November 1938), to increase armaments production.
Consequently, he had labourers who were able to create weaponry and armaments such as rocket production in Nordhausen. This had sped up productions of ammunition by 97% in the first six months of 1933, allowing Speer to console his position of Armaments minister with outstanding success. Therefore, Speer was able to use labour in order to extend his success as Armaments minister.
Hitler's Henchmen: The Architect Albert Speer
Albert Speer and The Nuremberg Trials
Speer manipulated Germany’s loss to world war two to financially support himself. After the Nuremberg trials, German citizens argued they had not known of the atrocities of Jewish labour. Instead, Speer cunningly offered the German populous an excuse for their obliviousness towards the holocaust through his autobiography that stated even the right-hand man of Hitler did not know of the Jewish atrocities. To his advantage, it became an international bestseller.
He carefully constructed the book without incriminating himself with suggesting how much he knew about slave labourers. Due to this, he had become financially prosperous after his release from Spandu prison (October 1st, 1966.) Thus, he was enabled to capsulate himself as a Good Nazi showed his rise to prominence continued with his autobiography. Hence, even after his arrest, Speer utilised the confusion of the German public in order to financially stabilise himself.
The Cathedral of Lights
Speer had successfully manipulated events to aid his ambitions. He advanced his Nazi career through establishing connections with Nazi members including Hitler who significantly propelled his political career. He immediately responded to the position of Armaments minister and used labor to consolidate his position. After his career, he used Germany’s social turmoil to become financially prosperous.