SPEER, Albert

* 1905 in Mannheim
† 1981 in London

Albert Speer studied at the Technical Colleges in Karlsruhe, Munich and Berlin, and thereafter became Heinrich Tessenow's assistant. He received his license as architect in 1927. After a long period of unemployment, Speer went to administer his father's estate in Heidelburg. He joined the NSDAP in 1931, after attending one of Hitler's speeches in Berlin. Albert Speer received his first building contract for the NSDAP through a friend named Hanke, who was the head of the Berlin Administrative District. He redesigned the newly acquired Berlin Administrative Office in Voßstraße 11. However, he only managed to draw Hitler's attention by completing an extension on Goebbels' new villa in a remarkably short time. In 1933 Hitler ordered the architect, Paul Ludwig Troost, to renovate and extend the Old Reich Chancellery. He appointed the young Albert Speer as site manager, as Troost, who came from Munich, had no connection to the Berlin construction companies. It was at this time that Speer and Hitler came to know each other. Albert Speer appeared more frequently at Hitlers side Hitler at receptions and luncheons. He soon began to receive prestigious contracts, such as the setting for the Nürnberg Congress of 1934. It was for this event that he designed his famous "Cathedral of Light". He also designed the Zeppelinfeld in Nürnberg, and organised the layout of the entire arena. In 1937 Hitler appointed Albert Speer as "General Construction Inspector"(GBI) for the redesigning of the Reich Capitol. With this, Hitler ordered him to reconstruct Berlin into Germania. Albert Speer reworked sketches that Hitler had made for that purpose, and designed some of the main buildings for the new Prachtstraße. His main task however, was the coordination of the different architects and artists. Parallel to the work on Germania, he completed conceptual scetches for the construction of the New Reich Chancellery in 1936, even though he was only officially commisioned to do the work some time later, in 1938. Hitler recognized in Speer strong leadership and organizational skills, and considered him a confidant. He appointed Speer as Minister of Armaments after the death of Todt, in 1942. Under his leadership the economic production reached its summit in 1944, even though this was when the Allied bombing of German cities reached its peak. In December 1944, Speer turned against Hitler and Hitler's plans to follow a scorched earth policy in Germany. At great risk to himself he did all he could to keep Germany's industries and infrastructure intact in direct contrast to Hitlers orders. Speer was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment at the Nürnberg Trial. He was released in 1966. He wrote several books about the Third Reich, as well as "The Spandau Diaries"; a record of his time in prison. Albert Speer died in 1981 in London during a tour of interviews with the media.