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Albert Speer
Albert Speer (19 March 1905-1 September 1981) was the German Minister of Armaments and War Production from 8 February 1942 to 23 May 1945, succeeding Fritz Todt and preceding Karl Saur. Speer was a leading Nazi Party member, and he was reponsible for producing enough ammunition, tanks, planes, and other supplies to fuel the German war machine.

Biography

Albert Speer was born in Mannheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire on 19 March 1905, and he studied architecture in Karlsruhe, Munich, and Berlin. He joined the Nazi Party in 1931, and his architectural skills made him increasingly prominent in the party and a member of Adolf Hitler's inner circle. Hitler had him design and construct structures including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg, and he made plans to reconstruct Berlin on a grand scale with huge buildings, wide boulevards, and a reorganized transportation system.

In February 1942, following the death of Fritz Todt in a plane crash, Speer was appointed the new Minister of Armaments and War Production by Hitler, effectively placing him in charge of the German war machine during World War II. He oversaw a year-long "armaments miracle" that ended with the start of the Allied bombing campaigns in Nazi Germany in 1943. Some of Speer's factories employed concentration camp prisoners as employees, but he denied knowing of the Holocaust's existence. Towards the end of the war, Hitler demanded that Speer carry out scorched earth policies in Germany, but Speer not only ignored Hitler's orders, but he was active in sabotaging them, all in the interest of saving the German people. On 22 April 1945, Speer visited Hitler in the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin and confessed his disobedience to him, while claiming that he was personally loyal to him; this confession brought tears to Hitler's eyes, and he did not accept Speer's handshake as Speer left. On 23 May 1945, Speer and the other members of the Flensburg government were arrested by the British, and he served 20 years in prison at Spandau for his role in using forced labor. He was released in 1966, and he wrote several books on the Nazi Party. He died of a stroke in 1981 while visiting London, England, and he became famous as "The Nazi Who Said Sorry", as he regretted his role in leading Nazi Germany.

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