Bismarck, Otto v.
Kleist, Heinrich v.
Ossietzky, Carl v.
Schinkel, Karl Friedrich
b. March 19, 1905, Mannheim, Baden
d. Sept. 1, 1981, London
German architect who was Adolf Hitler's chief architect (1933-45) and minister for
armaments and war production (1942-45).
Speer studied at the technical schools in Karlsruhe, Munich, and Berlin, and acquired
an architectural license in 1927. After hearing Hitler speak at a Berlin rally in late 1930,
he enthusiastically joined the Nazi Party (January 1931) and so impressed the Führer
by his efficiency and talent that, soon after Hitler became chancellor, Speer became his
personal architect. He was rewarded with many important commissions, including
grandiose plans to rebuild the whole of Berlin (never accomplished) and the design of
the parade grounds, searchlights, and banners of the spectacular Nürnberg party
congress of 1934, filmed by Leni Riefenstahl in
Triumph of the Will.
In 1942 Speer became minister of armaments and munitions, a title enlarged the
following year to minister of armaments and war production, when he was charged not
only with armaments production, transportation, and placement but also with final
authority over raw materials and industrial production. With this authority, Speer
expanded a system of conscript and slave labour, supplied primarily from concentration
camps, that maintained production of war material for Nazi Germany.
Speer confessed his guilt at the Nürnberg trials in 1945-46 and served a 20-year
sentence at Spandau prison in West Berlin. Following his release in 1966 he had a
career as a writer. His published works include Erinnerungen (1969; Inside the
Third Reich, 1970), Spandauer Tagebücher (1975; Spandau: The Secret Diaries,
1976), and Der Sklavenstaat (1981; Infiltrator, 1981).
"Speer, Albert" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.