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Personalities in the twentieth century Assignment

Outline the main features in the background and rise to prominence of Albert Speer Berthold Konnad Herman Albert Speer, born 2nd of 3 sons on March 19th 1905 into a wealthy family to father Albert Friedich Speer, and mother, Luise Mathilde Wilhelmin Hommel in March 1905, was a famous architect during the Second World War. Speer was 9 when World War 1 began in 1914. Wealth made it easier for his family, allowing them to buy whatever food was available at the time; however, they still found great difficulty during this time as they too were as greatly affected by the food shortages as others.

Mid 1918, allied air raids began over Mannheim, Speer’s father decided to move them to the south in their summer house for safety. He was active in sports, taking up skiing and mountaineering and wanted to become a mathematician, till his father explained this occupation he would “lead a life without money, without a position and without a future”. Instead, Speer followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and studied architecture. During the early twentieth century Germany became a leading centre of modern architectural innovation.

Speer began his architectural studies in 1923 at the University of Karlsruhe during the time of the hyperinflation crisis. In 1924 when the crisis had abated he transferred to institute of technology in Munich before sitting his exams at Technical University of Berlin where he studied under Heinrich Tessenow, whom Speer greatly admired. Tessenow was deeply affected by the horrors of war and was philosophically mid-way between modernism and traditionalism.

As a founding member of the deutsche Werkbund, he promoted the native German craftsmanship ideal and advocated simple design suitable for mass production and we can see a similarity in Tessenow’s work and Speer’s. During the time of albert Speer’s graduation in 1927 the German economy began to weaken, the social democratic party (SPD) was floundering and the German communist party (KPD) increased in support. Until in-stepped the Nazi party into the void of political uncertainty. The Nazis promised to revive the German economy, restore German racial pride and counter the threat of communism.

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Speer had been invited to attend a student rally where Hitler would speak and was as he claimed to be, deeply affected with the proposed solutions and Hitler himself. A few weeks later after attending another Nazi rally Speer joined the party and became member number 474 481. Speer found it increasingly difficult for a young architect like himself to find design work and once his assistant lecturer’s salary was reduced by the German government in 1932, he made the decision to move back to his boyhood town of Mannheim attempting to manage his father’s properties and attempt to establish himself there.

However, once again, his attempts failed him so decided to return to berlin where he joined his local nationalsozialistische kraftfahrer-korps and was appointed the associations head. The district leaders Karl Hanke knew of Speer’s work and had him redecorate the inside of their new district headquarters. As Hanke rose through the ranks, so did Speer’s jobs. 1932, Speer was contacted by Hanke for his skills to redecorate the new district headquarters on Voss street, then eight months later he received another call, by now Hitler had been appointed chancellor.

Hanke had offered Speer a job of rebuilding and redecorating the new building for Goebbels ministry of propaganda on Wilhelm’s square. Before too long the Nazi government was hiring Speer for all their architectural jobs including the extension of Gobbels house; 1933 tempelhof May Day rally decorations, and the decorations for the Nuremberg party rally in 1933. Speer was involved in many of the other architectural jobs but his biggest job was that of the refurbishing of the chancellery in collaboration with Hitler’s official architect, Paul Ludwig Troost. Speer’s efforts on the building pleased Hitler and he invited him to dinner.

He because more impressed when he found that he had been responsible for many of the other jobs within the party. Hitler saw a young untrained architect who had the potential to carry out his ideas and he soon became part of Hitler’s inner circle and appointed Rudolf Hess’s staff as abteilungsleitter (department chief of public works) and Goebbels’ ministry of propaganda. In January 193, Paul Ludwig Troost died. Despite not having properly designed a building, Speer received his first major commission from the Nazi government: to design and build permanent bleachers for the zeppelin fields in Nuremberg.

The Nuremberg rallies were the central to the dissemination of Nazi propaganda. During this assembly Hitler was presented to the people as the triumphant national saviour and the Nazi policies were announced, this included the Nuremberg laws of 1935. By 1934 Hitler had decided that there was a great need for more stadiums and buildings for future Nuremberg rallies mainly, yet also would be utilised for concerts, military exercises and party speeches during the rallies. Speer had the idea to build a full rally complex on one site covering over 16 square kilometres at Nuremberg.

In his design all buildings would be designed in the monumental neo-classical style and use stone for their construction. Hitler was very impressed with Speer’s design and approved the building in 1935. Speer’s design incorporated a parade ground where the army would be able to perform military manoeuvres which was surrounded by 160000 spectator stands and 24 towers; a processional avenue over two kilometres long; a grand horseshoe stadium known as the ‘German stadium’; a congress hall and a culture hall.

All of which (except the congress hall) had been designed by Speer and really was vastly superior in comparison to similar structures elsewhere in Europe and the united states with the stadium seating 400000. The plans for the stadium won the grand prix in the ‘Paris world’s fair 1937’. Hitler dream was to recreate the city of berlin and create a future empire called Germania.

The vision was a five kilometre avenue stretching through the centre of the city leading to a domed hall, a triumphal arch to dwarf that of Paris’, the other end of the avenue would be ‘the fuhrers’ palace and many cultural buildings, cinemas and operette theatres were to be built. However, Germany’s Germania never ended up being built. Speer labelled these dimensions as examples of megalomania. It was a vast undertaking. Plans, swiftly drawn up by Speer’s office were presented to the public on January 28th, 1938. The reaction within Germany was predictably enthusiastic, with newspapers carrying detailed explanations and commentaries.

The death of Todt occurred in 1942 and Hitler quickly appointed Speer as tot’s successor. Speer moved quickly to assert his authority. He gained Hitler’s permission to use non-political experts and in doing so eliminated direct party control from his ministry, he managed to get a decree passed giving him the power to have people tried for hoarding and for making false claims for war material. In the February 13th meeting, Speer had his top bureaucrats and army supply people sign a document giving him full power over armaments decisions. Although, Speer faced many problems during his assignment.

These included the long-term strategic problems of a series of rapid, overwhelming attacks resulting in the collapse against Russia, the overlapping responsibilities and burden of bureaucratic red-tape and the labour shortage, women were not being used, and Speer sort to use them. Despite the situation that he faced, Speer proved to be spectacularly successful in rationalising economic organisation and overcoming the obstacles placed before him by party hacks and civilian bureaucrats, and because of this, Germany’s wartime economy became extremely efficient.

These included the aircraft, trucks, anti-tank guns and fighters being heavily reduced. At the end of September Speer was informed that he would be put on trial in front of the international military tribunal at Nuremberg. Speer was taken to an interrogation camp at oberursel for a night then to Nuremberg prison with his fellow defendants. Speer was assigned a lawyer named Dr. Hans flachsner who conducted his defence for the ten months’ trial. The chief prosecutor for the trial was Justice Robert h.

Jackson of the United States Supreme Court while the British, French, American and Russian governments each appointed 2 judges to the bench. Speer was charged on four accounts, being accused for conspiring to commit crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity, participating in the planning, preparation and waging of a war aggression, authorising and participating in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Speer pleaded not guilty to the accusations which covered his inclusion in forced labour camps, maltreatment of prisoners of war, maltreatment of concentration camp prisoners and the genocide of the Jews.

Nineteenth on a list of 21 defendants, the court took some time to get to Speer’s prosecution. In his cross examination he declared his responsibility for carrying out the orders that Hitler gave him, he acknowledged his guilt for forced labour programs and took responsibility for the regimes crime from 1942 onward, but denied having any knowledge of the Nazi mass exterminations of the Jewish people. Based on the evidence presented to the court, Speer was innocent of counts one and two but guilty of counts three and four, sentencing him to 20 years in Spandau prison and released in 1966.

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