Speer, Albert, 1905-1982

Speer is generally recognized as the most able of HITLER’s subordinates and the most interesting, in that he retained throughout his membership of Hitler’s court, a clearsighted understanding of its essentially Byzantine character. An architect by training, he first came to Hitler’s notice in the planning of the Nuremberg party buildings. In 1942 on the death of the armaments minister, Todt, in an air crash, he was promoted to succeed him at the age of 37, and at once began to demonstrate the most remarkable talent for the administration of war industry. Despite the rising tide of the Allied Bombing Offensive on the armaments factories, he was able, through a policy of rationalization and dispersal, to make output rise for every month until September 1944, and to maintain a flow of war material, if on a diminishing scale, to the very end of the war. It was the destruction of the transportation system, rather than of his dispersed factories, which eventually defeated his efforts. Tried at Nuremberg, he was sentenced to twenty years for his use of slave labor in war industry, and wrote during his captivity the most revealing of all the Nazi memoirs.

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