Albert Speer, Born 1905 In Mannheim
Albert Speer, born 1905 in Mannheim originated from an upper middle-class family. However, Speer, whilst comfortable in his lavish, provincial style of living, grew up desolate and isolated as his parents were “virtually strangers to him” . Speer, as an adult then saw his loveless childhood, as the root cause of his emotionally void behaviour to his wife and children. Speer grew up in a home where the discussion of politics had been banned, creating an individual primarily apolitical, and indifferent to the political extremes of the Weimar Era. When the Great Depression hit, Speer and his family were not as affected, due to their family wealth, which was mostly in property. Speer excelled in school, and considered a career as a mathematician. However, his father, an architect, criticized this decision and convinced him to follow in his footsteps in becoming another prominent architect in their family. In 1927, after completing his architectural degree, Speer married Margarete Weber, who his parents disapproved off, due to her lower economic and social status. Speer and Margarete Weber had 6 children, all of which, Speer remained unemotional towards.
Speer, had, for the most of his earlier life, been untouched by the political situations in the 1920s. However, on the 4th of December 1930, Speer attended a Rally, where Hitler addressed the students and academics that attended. Speer was greatly impressed by Hitler’s speech, and the emotions that Hitler could evoke, and Speer, like many others became convinced of Hitler’s ability to restore German honour. In March 1931, Speer joined the Nazi party.
Speer’s first patron into the Nazi party was Karl Hanke, who gave him many opportunities with his acceptance into the party. In March 1933, Speer was offered to opportunity to redesign the interior of Goebbels’s new propaganda ministry in Berlin, which allowed him to gain a reputation for his exceptional organisational skills, as Speer assured Goebbels’ that the building would be finished in two months, and true to his word, it was . Speer then received the task of designing the backdrop for the May Day Rally at Templehof, later in 1933. Speer’s ability to symbolise the national socialist ideology through the aesthetic of gigantic flags and searchlights at the ‘Cathedral of light’, attracted Hitler , and Speer was promoted to ‘Commissioner for the artistic and technical presentation of Party Rallies and Demonstrations”. In 1933, Speer was placed solely in charge of the Nuremburg Nazi Rally site. 1936 saw the Olympic Games to be held in Berlin, and due to conflicting opinions between Werner March and Hitler, Speer designed to stadium to be classified in the neo-classical aesthetic, which satisfied the Fuhrer. Speer had become an integral member of Hitler’s inner circle. In 1937, Speer gained another architectural triumph at the Paris World Exhibition. Speer’s design for the German pavilion, incorporating an eagle holding a swastika seeming to look down upon the Soviet Union Exhibition opposite, allowed for Speer to be rewarded with a gold medal. Speer, as an opportunist, however, increased the scale of designed upon ‘accidently’ glimpsing at the Soviet Union designs.
While being appointed an assistant to Paul Troost in 1933, upon his death in 1934, Speer was elevated to Hitler’s chief architect and commissioned to carry out Hitler’s ambitious plans for Berlin which would resonate an image of German superiority throughout Europe . Speer’s work exceeded Hitler’s expectations. Hitler, in 1938, pleased with Speer’s work, assigned him to build a new Reich chancellery, to be completed in 12 months, revealing once again Speer’s exceptional organisational skills as he succeeded in meeting the deadline.
Germania was to be the New Berlin, the capital of the Reich, and Speer, as part of Hitler’s close private circle, was placed in charge of this ambitious architectural project in 1937. For Germania to be built, 52 000 flats were to be cleared away in the centre of Berlin. Speer, to allow for this, evicted Jewish people from their homes, with no intention of finding an alternate place of stay. At the outbreak of war in 1939, Speer’s architectural projects simmered down, and Speer’s talents were transferred to a new speciality. In February 1942, Hitler assigned Speer the prominent role of Minister for Armaments and Munitions.