Albert Speer was born as the son of an architect, in 1905in Mannheim. He chose the same profession as his father, which he exercised from 1927.
Speer first heard Hitler speak in 1930. Deeply impressed, he joined the NSDAP in 1932. Hitler appreciated his organisational skills and put him in charge of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally. Later, Hitler commissioned Speer to design numerous buildings, such as the Reich Chancellery and the party's headquarters in Nuremberg. The Führer shared the same passion for architecture and made Speer his personal friend.
Speer held numerous positions , in particular in the German Work Front, headed by Robert Ley, and as leader of the Todt organisation. From 1941 until the end of the war, he occupied a seat in the Reichstag, the German parliament. He was made Minister of Armaments andWar Production following the death of Fritz Todt in 1942. Using his administrative skills, he rapidly increased production. He was in charge of an enormous number of workers, whose numbers rose progressively from 2'600'000 to 14'000'000. Together with Fritz Sauckel, Speer was responsible for the recruitment of foreign slave labourers. During a conference in August 1942, Sauckel received – for example – the order to provide “1'000'000 Russian workers for the German arms industry by the end of October 1942”.
In mitigation, it can be added that Speer did not agree with Hitler’s Scorched Earth Policy and directly disobeyed orders in this context.
Speer was accused of using his different positions and his personal influence to take part in the military and economic planning and preparation of a war of aggression and a war in violation of international treaties (count 1 and 2). He was further accused of having authorised, directed and taken part in war crimes (count 3) and crimes against humanity (count 4), in particular in the abuse and exploitation of slave labourers, in order to wage a war of aggression.
Speer was arrested by the Allied Forces on 23 May 1945.
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