Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, has been given several titles – ‘the good Nazi’, ‘Hitler’s architect’, ‘future Reichchancellor’, and even ‘the only penitent defendant at Nuremberg’. He presented many faces to the world, but which one was genuine?
Speer was extensively involved in the Nazi party, both as Hitler’s architect and the Minister for Armaments, and through his contributions to the illegal war waged by the regime. Thus, the question naturally arises: did Speer receive adequate punishment? The events leading up to the Nuremberg trial, and the trial itself, provides clues to answering these questions: what can we learn about the personality of Speer from the evidence available, and why does it matter?
In the years since the trial, biographers have been fascinated with the life of Speer, and have attempted to understand the man behind the enigma. The reason for the fascination is as much for his proximity to Hitler and the regime as it is for his actions at the end of the war. Were they justifiable? Was Speer’s biggest flaw his ambition and his turning away from obviously inhumane acts? Or did Speer manage to pull off the ultimate conjuring trick, convincing the court of his unintentional involvement, all the while wholeheartedly supporting the Nazi regimes’ treatment of those they oppressed?
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Happy Labour Day!