Speer, Albert

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Speer, Albert

Albert Speer (äl´bĕrt shpār), 1905–81, German architect and National Socialist (Nazi) leader. A member of the Nazi party from 1931, he became its official architect after Hitler came to power. His grandiose but coldly eclectic designs include the stadium at Nuremberg (1934). A highly efficient organizer, Speer became (1942) minister for armaments, succeeding the engineer Fritz Todt. In 1943 he also took over part of Hermann Goering's responsibilities as planner of the German war economy. From Todt, Speer inherited the Organisation Todt (OT), an organization using forced labor for the construction of strategic roads and defenses. Under Speer's direction, economic production reached its peak in 1944, despite Allied bombardment. In the last months of the war Speer did much to thwart Hitler's scorched-earth policy, which would have devastated Germany. Largely because of the OT's wide use of slave labor, Speer was sentenced (1946) to imprisonment for 20 years by the Nuremberg war-crimes tribunal. He was released from Spandau war crimes prison in 1966.

See his memoirs, Inside the Third Reich (tr. 1970); biographies by W. Hamsher (1970), G. Sereny (1995), and J. Fest (2002).

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