Speer, Albert

Question:

I have an assignment due in a few days, I've pretty much finished but I was wondering if you could just help me with a little bit about how Albert Speer was promoted to the public during the trials when he denied knowledge? I'd really appreciate it!

Gordon McFee answers:

I am one of the volunteers who answers questions for the Holocaust History Project.

Speer's basic strategy at Nuremberg could be described as a gamble. He knew that his close association with Hitler since 1933 and his successive posts in the German government, especially as Armaments Minister, were going to land him in deep trouble. This was the case because he had been involved in the procurement of slave labour with Fritz Sauckel, the plenipotentiary in charge of slave labour. In fact, most of the slave labour was procured for Speer's factories. In addition, it is widely recognized now that he had intimate knowledge of the Final Solution and had been in close collaboration with Heinrich Himmler since 1943, when the latter became Minister of the Interior (on paper, the SS reported to the Minister of the Interior). It is even possible that Speer was in attendance at Himmler's Posen speech in October 1943 when Himmler spelled out the Final Solution in unambiguous language.

Thus, Speer, against the advice of his defense lawyer, opted for a strategy where he admitted everything that he knew the Allies would know, volunteered as much information as he could without incriminating himself any more than he already was, and several times accepted responsibility for his actions (which most of the accused didn't do). Finally, he was urbane, witty and affable and was able to charm many of the Allied personnel attached to the trial. The result was that he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment rather than death, the irony being that Sauckel was hanged.

You can find a more complete treatment of this in several books on Nuremberg. I would recommend Taylor's Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials, and Persico's Nuremberg.

Best of luck in your assignment.

Gord McFee

Question:

I am a second year A-Level student at Kingston College and I have a presentation to do on Albert Speer. I have gathered a number of informations but not anything specific on the role he played in the Third Reich, more specificlly as the minister of armament and munition. I also wish to find out other web sites that could help me in my research. Thank you.

Daniel Mittleman answers:

I am one of the people who answer questions for The Holocaust History Project. I am writing you back at both the address you note in your letter and the address your sent it from.

I spent some time surfing the web and found much less on Speer than I expected to find. A lot of what I found were book reviews. While you didn't ask for book references, I do suggest _Albert Speer: his battle with truth_, 1996 by Gitta Sereny. It is a very well received analysis of Speer, his activities, and is lack of ability to acknowledge his activities.

On the web I first point you to the answer to a previous questioner at our own site. Gordon McFee wrote

http://www.holocaust-history.org/questions/speer.shtml

Then, for information about Speer as an architect, there is a site that praised him as the Architect of the 20th Century. I find his work impressive in its massiveness, but don't quite agree with their assessment. They are at

http://www.dataphone.se/~ms/speer/welcom.htm

The Simon Wiesenthal Center page on Speer is at http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/pages/t072/t07293.html

And http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Holocaust/speer.html is a statement by Speer on the Holocaust.

You will also want to look at Speer's testimony at Nuremburg. An excerpt from it is at http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/Speer.html

We are in the process of trying to get all of the Nuremburg transcripts onto our site (See the IMT pointers on our home page) but don't have his June 46 testimony up yet. As of now, if you go to www.nizkor.org and search on the term "speer" you can access complete transcripts of the Nuremburg Trial for the days Speer testified. Some of his testimony relates to your questions about armaments.

I hope this helps.

Daniel Mittleman
Assistant Professor
DePaul University CTI

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