Ellis Washington
Nazi officer Albert Speer: 'Good Nazi' or mass murderer?
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By Ellis Washington
August 13, 2015

I would have been Hitler's best friend... if Hitler had been capable of having friends.

In all of my activities as Armament Minister I never once visited a labor camp, and cannot, therefore, give any information about them.


~ Albert Speer


Albert Speer: Hitler's Architect of Buildings and War Armaments

April 30, 1945 was a day of dualism: defeat and victory. On the one hand, as Soviet troops struggled ever closer toward Adolf Hitler and his underground bunker at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, the house-to-house combat became so furious that the Russians lost nearly 1.3 million soldiers in the Battle of Berlin campaign alone: a Pyrrhic victory won when Hitler committed suicide shooting himself in the head along with the wife, Eva Braun, whom he just married the day before. As Berlin descended into chaos and eventual surrender, World War II ended in Europe, yet Hitler had contingency plans and his handpicked successor, Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, escaped with others of the Nazi Party faithful to northern Germany to form the ill-fated Flensburg Government.

As the Flensburg Government was defeated by invading Allied troops and the U.N. War Crimes Commission, one Nazi appeared as a man of particular importance: Albert Speer, Hitler's Wunderkind, an architectural genius, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich and a trusted friend to Hitler. During World War II, Speer the administrator of the so-called "armaments miracle" greatly prolonged the German war effort by expanding Hitler's production orders by 100% all while under unrelenting air attacks by the Allied Powers. The question of how Speer achieved this strategic miracle would become more evident during his subsequent war crimes trials at Nuremberg in 1945-46 where his testimony, corroborated by declassified Nazi documents confiscated by the Allies, demonstrated that Speer in fact achieved this "armaments miracle" not only through administrative genius, but as writer Gilbert King wrote in his excellent article on Speer, "by exploiting millions of slave laborers who were starved and worked to death in his factories."

Speer was keenly aware that his time was running out as the Allied Powers approached the Nazis' position at Flensburg and that the Allies were especially pursuing Nazi leaders and officials, planners and plotters to be tried for war-crimes trials. As a high-ranking Nazi Party member and SS officers Speer understood that he could expect no clemency once captured. Also, unlike Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, Franz Böhme, Rudolph Hess, and many other Nazi cowards, Speer did not choose to commit suicide.

Speer's Memoirs: Inside the Third Reich

Inside the Third Reich is Speer's celebrated biography of his life, Hitler, the Nazis and the Rise of the Third Reich based on his numerous notes he took in secret while a prisoner at the Nuremberg Trials (1945-46). Speer's opus is not a pure autobiography since after writing a narrative of his childhood at the beginning, he addresses the remainder of his Memoirs recounting his work and career as a member and later ranking officer of the Third Reich.

Albert Speer, by his own explanation, ascended up the Nazi chain of command by a fortuitous yet uncommon set of circumstances. Speer confessed that as a college student he initially joined the Nazi Party in March 1931 subsequent to attending a rally at which Hitler spoke in January which was an epiphany experience to Speer, and at the urging of some of his student colleagues. In the beginning Speer was used primarily as a driver, being one of the few in that area who owned a car. Despite his youth, Speer's meteoric rise occurred once he became an architect appointed by the Nazi Party where he distinguished himself from others for his efficiency and timeliness to meet various building projects which greatly impressed influential senior Nazi leaders. Since Hitler viewed himself as both an architect and artist (recall after World War I, Hitler was a failed artist who was rejected from the famous Vienna Academy of Art), thus there was a natural kinship between the Fuhrer and Speer which overtime led to his entre into Hitler's inner circle.

Nevertheless, this closeness to Hitler had its burdens and benefits. One benefit Speer would later remark, "I would have been Hitler's best friend... if Hitler had been capable of having friends." Nevertheless, there were infinitely more burdens for being close to Hitler (whom Speer would later compare to making a deal with the Devil) including incessant jealousies and power struggles, particularly with the vain and venal Hermann Göring and other Nazi leaders who resented this young upstart. Additionally, Speer was under substantial psychological stress during this period of his life. He would later remember: "Soon after Hitler had given me the first large architectural commissions, I began to suffer from anxiety in long tunnels, in airplanes, or in small rooms. My heart would begin to race, I would become breathless, the diaphragm would seem to grow heavy, and I would get the impression that my blood pressure was rising tremendously ... Anxiety amidst all my freedom and power!"

Although Speer's early career as a driver and junior architect could arguably put him in the category as an apparatchik (bureaucrat) since his primary duties as the designer of the Olympic venues during Germany's hosting of the 1936 Olympics until 1942 consisted totally of architectural projects, principally huge, epic works in the Nazi modernist interpretation of the ancient Greco-Classical styles that Hitler planned but would never see constructed. The few building projects Speer actually completed would later be destroyed during or shortly after World War II. However, Speer's biggest career move came quite unexpectedly when Hitler made him the Minister of Armaments after his predecessor, Fritz Todt, was killed in a plane crash.


Like he did repeatedly as Hitler's architect, once again Speer would distinguish himself as the epitome of German efficiency as Hitler's Armaments Minister where German arms production was upgraded to such an incredible extent it was called Speer's "armaments miracle." But there would be even greater duties placed upon Speer's shoulders. Previous to his appointment, Hermann Göring was over the economy, yet as the war increased, the German economy waned causing Göring to fall into Hitler's disfavor. After the leadership reorganization the economy fell primarily under Speer's domain with the remainder of the German economy going to Himmler and his SS Secret Police.

Speer adopted economic reforms that the United States and Great Britain had already applied years earlier – specifically, using female workers in war production and the transformation of civilian factories exclusively to make weapons of war. Nevertheless, while arms production increased greatly under Speer's leadership, it was a law of diminishing return as the Allied Powers numerical superiority, Germany's attrition due to fighting an impossible war on two fronts, combined with Hitler's gross incompetence as a war strategist frequently failing to follow the advice of his own generals. This was particularly evident in Hitler's disastrous campaign in Russia (Operation Barbarossa) launched in June 22, 1941-Dec. 5, 1941; a tactical catastrophe that many war historians believe was the beginning of the end of the Third Reich. Thus Speer's war armaments efficiency helped little since by the time Speer became Armaments Minister in Feb. 1943 the war was already a fait accompli. However, contrary to the Allied Power's belief in German-Nazi efficiency that prolonged the War, Speer believed that the pathological secrecy and exploitation within Hitler's dictatorial structure more than negated the abstract benefits of superior centralization which Speer made a major part of his defense strategy during his Nuremberg Trials.

His memoirs Inside the Third Reich ends as Speer begins his 20 year imprisonment at Spandau Prison in Berlin, where he was known as prisoner number 5. Speer, a bibliophile read constantly, took care of a garden and, against prison regulations, took voluminous notes for what would become his bestselling books, including Inside the Third Reich and his memoirs Spandau: The Secret Diaries which covers the length of his incarceration.

Indeed Albert Speer was an enigma, a man of dualism both in life an in death. For example, although in 1981 Speer died quietly in a London hospital, his legacy as an architect was transitory in that none of his buildings, including the Reich Chancellery or the Zeppelinfeld stadium, are standing today. Yet because of his intelligent and compelling personality, Speer's legacy and myth as the "Good Nazi" endures stronger than ever to this day.

In 2006, 25 years after Speer his died, a collection of 100 letters was discovered from his ten-year correspondence with Helene Jeanty, the widow of a Belgian resistance leader. Since Speer had stubbornly tried to project the myth that he was merely a Nazi functionary whose day-to-day duties as a Nazi apparatchik was merely building the superstructure of the Nazi State, but King counters Speer's "Good Nazi" myth writing, "The minister of armaments was happy to tell his captors about the war machine he had built. But it was a different story when he was asked about the Holocaust." Yet in one fateful correspondence, Speer confessed what the 400,000 Jews he tortured all those years and the Allied Powers that tracked him down in Flensburg already knew: that Speer had undeniably heard Himmler's "Posen speech" about eradicating the Jews. "There is no doubt – I was present as Himmler announced on October 6, 1943 that all Jews would be killed," Speer wrote. "Who would believe me that I suppressed this, that it would have been easier to have written all of this in my memoirs?"

Albert Speer: 'Good Nazi' or Mass Murderer?

Speer was the highest ranking Nazi not to get death penalty at the Nuremberg Trials. How did he escape the hangman's noose? To his death Speer maintained a psychotic delusion rooted in his existential psychological dualism: "In all of my activities as Armament Minister I never once visited a labor camp, and cannot, therefore, give any information about them." Speer's psychotic and perverted logic proves unequivocally that he was no mere Nazi functionary or apparatchik and certainly not a "Good Nazi," but a plotter and planner of mass murderer and genocide which can be understood by Speer's psychotic logic: 'Since I didn't see mass murders or visit the Death Camps, I therefore have no complicity in mass murder or the Holocaust.' It's totally delusional thinking reminiscent of the mass delusions in America today.

Speer spent his entire 20 year prison sentence at Spandau Prison and was released in 1966. He remained a sympathetic public figure, especially in his native Germany, by scrupulously promoting his mythological image as a "good Nazi" who had spoken honestly about his criminal background. Because of his very popular books, Speer became wealthy, lived in a cottage in Heidelberg, West Germany. Nevertheless questions about Speer's truthfulness did not stop, but increased after his prison release as more and more Nazi-era documents became open to public scrutiny. Gilbert King observes that in 1971, Harvard University's Erich Goldhagen argued that Speer had fully known of the mass genocide of Jews, based on evidence that Speer had attended a Nazi conference in an Oct. 10, 1943 at which Heinrich Himmler, Hitler's military commander, had spoken openly about "wiping the Jews from the face of the earth." Speer confessed that he was present at the conference, but said he had left before Himmler gave his infamous "Posen" or "Final Solution" speech.


In my 2008 book, The Nuremberg Trials: Last Tragedy of the Holocaust, I argued that the entire pretext for so-called war Crimes trials was a colossal waste of time, resources and most tragically, based on spurious and defective jurisprudence: Positive Law – the separation of legality and morality based on evolution atheism, rather than Natural Law – the integration of legality and morality based on the Bible, morality and the original intent of the constitutional Framers, which only assured that mass murders, plotters and planners of Nazi genocide like Speer and many others would escape justice on technical grounds, or never be brought to justice in the first place like Alois Brunner, Dr. Josef Mengele and many others who escaped to South America and to other parts of the world. In my opinion Nazi war crimes were so evil as a prima facie case, summary execution and mass life imprisonment terms would have been more efficient and more just punishment for the millions of Jews Hitler and his Nazis murdered than the self-righteous 'show trials' of Nuremberg that only judged a symbolic number of Nazi leaders.

History tells us that Hitler, Speer and the Nazis evil empire did not last for 1,000 years as they boasted, but only for 12 years (1933-45), yet there existed the twin grotesqueries of the Holocaust and World War II causalities Hitler and the Nazis caused including the murder of approximately 50 million people. As horrific as this is yet in pales in comparison with the 117 million pre- and post-born babies just since Roe v. Wade (1973) alone; casualties of America's billion dollar abortion mills led by Margaret Sanger's infanticide concept, Planned Parenthood (who called Black babies "human weeds"); demonic ideas of hate which had a direct philosophical connection and inspiration to Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, Eichmann, Speer and Nazi genocide against the Jews.

I wonder what will real historians write 100 years from now of this generation (as opposed to Cultural Marxists or historical revisionists) and this 42 year American Holocaust since Roe v. Wade "(1973) against the pre-born and the post-born babies? I wonder what historians will say about America and her multi-billion dollar industry harvesting and selling aborted body parts to the highest bidder just as the Nazis did 70 years ago "for the good of the Fatherland" (recall Nazi doctor Julius Hallervorden's testimony at the Nuremberg Trials: "If you are going to kill all these [Jewish] people, at least take the brains out so that the material may be utilized"). And presently as President Obama, Planned Parenthood the Democrat Socialist Party do today, "for women's reproductive rights" and to provide, in the merciless words of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, "very important services"?

*N.B.: See Albert Speer's definitive memoir on the Nazi period: Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (Macmillan, 1970). Gilbert King, The Candor and Lies of Nazi Officer Albert Speer, Smithsonian.com (Jan. 8, 2013).

Other Recommended readings: Ellis Washington, The Nuremberg Trials: Last Tragedy of the Holocaust (Hamilton Books, 2008), Nicholas Thompson, The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War, (Henry Holt and Company, 2009). Donald L. Miller, Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany, (Simon & Schuster, 2006). Dan Van Der Vat, The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997).


Book Notice

Please purchase my latest opus dedicated to that Conservative Colossus, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Here are the latest two new volumes from my ongoing historical series – THE PROGRESSIVE REVOLUTION: History of Liberal Fascism through the Ages (University Press of America, 2015):
However, before the book is officially released to the public, I have to place 100 pre-publication orders (50 orders per each volume). I need your help to make this happen ASAP. Please place your order today for Volume 3 & Volume 4. Of course, if you can order all 100 copies today, the book will become official tomorrow.

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Invitation for manuscripts

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© Ellis Washington

 

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Ellis Washington

Ellis Washington is a former staff editor of the Michigan Law Review (1989) and law clerk at the Rutherford Institute (1992). Currently he is an adjunct professor of law at the National Paralegal College and the graduate school, National Jurisprudence University, where he teaches Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, American History, Administrative Law, Criminal Procedure, Contracts, Real Property, and Advanced Legal Writing, among many other subjects... (more)

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