Speer, Albert

Albert Speer
Albert Speer

Albert Speer (19 March 1905 – 1 Sept. 1981) was Germany’s Minister of Armaments and War Production from 8 February 1942 until 30 April 1945. He was indicted during the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal for his extended use of forced laborer in the Third Reich’s various construction and armament projects that he managed. He was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for it.

Throughout his life and in his two autobiographies, titled Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (1970) and Spandau: The Secret Diaries (1976), he has denied having had any knowledge of an extermination program of the Jews. From his governmental position, he organized, funded and allocated material for the construction and expansion of concentration camps, including foremost Auschwitz. Hence, if a “Final Solution” in terms of a wholesale slaughter in gas chambers was implemented at Auschwitz, it is inconceivable that Speer did not know about it.

However, as the vast documentation about Auschwitz proves incontrovertibly, there is no trace of such a program being implemented. Quite the contrary, the massive construction and expansion works undertaken at that camp from 1942 onward aimed at drastically improving the hygienic, sanitary and healthcare situation for all inmates. (See the entries on Auschwitz Main Camp and Birkenau.)

On the other hand, Speer must have been aware of a general eliminatory attitude among the SS toward the Jews, because he attended one of Himmler’s most infamous speeches, in which the latter minced few words as to what he wanted his listeners to believe about the fate of the Jews. During that speech of 6 October 1943 in front of the political elite of the Third Reich, Himmler even addressed Speer a few times personally. (See the entry on Himmler speeches.)

Hence, Speer was correct to some degree, but he also suffered from selective memory.

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