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The involvement of albert speer in nazi terror and anti semitism during the third riech

Now I had found my Mephistopheles. Someone measured the size and weight of a human corpse to determine how many could be stacked and efficiently incinerated within a crematorium. Someone sketched out on a drafting table the decontamination showers, complete with the fake hot-water spigots used to lull and deceive doomed prisoners.

Someone, very well educated, designed the rooftop openings and considered their optimum placement for the cyanide pellets to be dropped among the naked, helpless men, women, and children below. This person was an engineer, an architect, or a technician.

  1. Speer noticed the fear and terror in their eyes when he tried to inquire about their conditions, but I asked no further questions. And we can admit and openly discuss that, in the past, engineers have been responsible for creating many of the problems that we struggle with as a society every day.
  2. The most important thing for him was Hitler - Hitler filled and fulfilled his life. It made clear that the new German state was not about to exact heavy penalties from a large number of past wrongdoers.
  3. In the absence of the victim, or on the pretext of making repairs or of checking the telephone or the electric installations, a few microphones were discreetly installed, allowing the individual to be spied upon even in the bosom of his family.
  4. Many engineering courses have been structured so that they avoid explicit value judgments. In the course of the previous several years, the state prosecuting attorney's office had investigated more than one hundred former Cologne Gestapo officers for their part in the mass murder.
  5. It was these qualities, combined with a conscience that subordinated everything to ambition, that made him one of the most dangerous of all the Nazis. The reserves to be called included young children, old men, and even the members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

This person went home at night, perhaps laughed and played with his children, went to church on Sunday, and kissed his wife goodbye each morning. The technical professions occupy a unique place in modern society. Engineers and architects possess skills most others lack — skills that allow them to transform dreams of design into reality.

  • Speer was guarded by Soviet soldiers, who he knew must have suffered tremendously during the war;
  • During the war the terror reached its most drastic phase, with the mass murder of the Jews serving as the most ominous example of its fury;
  • Combining these materials with the evidence provided by Browning and Goldhagen, it is no longer possible to maintain that the Holocaust was perpetrated exclusively, or even especially it seems, by elite Nazi special-forces units, for average German citizens formed the core of both the reserve police battalions and the German army.

Engineers can convert a dry, infertile valley into farmland by constructing a dam to provide irrigation; they have made man fly; and architects have constructed buildings that reach thousands of feet into the sky.

But these same technical gifts alone, in the absence of a sense of morality and a capacity for critical thought and judgment, can also make reality of nightmares. Ferdinand Porsche, the engineer who designed the Volkswagen — an automobile that revolutionized personal travel for the common man — also designed a terrifying battle tank that helped kill millions of Russians on the Eastern Front.

Wernher von Braun, who would later design the Saturn V rocket that brought American astronauts to the Moon, designed the V-2 rockets with which the Nazis terrorized Antwerp and London in the waning months of the Second World War. He shared with the dictator a vision of a redesigned Berlin that, when the Third Reich conquered the world, would be a lasting monument to its power for ages to come.

In this powerful office, Speer was for the final three years of the war in charge of supplying the German military. He oversaw the management of a substantial portion of the German economy; he kept the factories running, and the troops supplied with tanks, bombs, planes, and ammunition, continuing to increase production even during the height of Allied bombing.

  • In 2007, the Guardian reported the discovery of a 1971 letter by Speer that, if authentic, explicitly shows him admitting to being present and fully understanding the message of the speech;
  • Following the visit and resulting report, Speer approved the shipment of a thousand tons of steel to the camp to enable its expansion;
  • Perhaps unintentionally, but nonetheless noticeably, the pioneering works of Broszat and Dahrendorf and the revelations of the former Nazi Speer hardly touched on the Jews and the Holocaust.

the involvement of albert speer in nazi terror and anti semitism during the third riech These accomplishments earned him recognition, from both within the Third Reich and outside it.

On trial at Nuremberg after the war, Speer claimed full moral responsibility for the whole of the actions of the Nazi Party, and yet professed that he had no knowledge of the extermination of the Jews or the atrocities taking place in concentration camps. Whether or not he was telling the truth about his ignorance of these atrocities has been hotly debated ever since. What is indisputable is that the court did not sentence him to death, as it did many of his peers.

Instead he spent twenty years in prison, time he spent reflecting on his memories, coming to terms with his actions, and writing about his life and the inner workings of the Nazi Party — writings he later published as Inside the Third Reich 1970 and Spandau: The Secret Diaries 1976. Albert Speer did not, as far as any historians know, personally design any death chambers, nor did he personally kill another human being.

But Speer did use his brilliant technical expertise and talents to enable the war efforts of the most evil regime in history, allowing it to murder millions of human beings. But even as we condemn him, we must ask — especially we engineers and technicians — is Speer so different from us? How many of us would be willing to compartmentalize our emotions, suppress our consciences, almost to sell our souls, for the opportunity to work on the grand projects that Speer was involved in?

How many of us are so focused on solving a technical problem that we fail to contemplate where that solution might lead? To many engineers, Speer and his experiences during the war may seem irrelevant today. But although there seems to be little chance we hope of a highly industrialized power again waging a war of world conquest, the essential questions that Speer faced still pertain to the work of many engineers today.

You may be an engineer sitting in front of a computer-aided design screen, creating a seemingly benign component that will become part of some sophisticated weapons system that will be sold to unknown people in a far-off land. You may be a computer security researcher, or a virologist, and discover some new potential weapon or security vulnerability, and have to decide how to make the information public to shield against such attacks, but without helping those who would launch them.

Or you may design automobile parts, and be faced with a compromise between saving your company production costs and protecting the lives of customers. Almost every engineer in the course of his career faces moral decisions that are similar to, if less weighty than, the ones that Albert Speer faced.

In the years before the First World War, young Albert was provided a very comfortable childhood in a Germany that was expanding economically at a rate that made it the envy of the world.

He tended to be more serious and studious than his playmates, and showed an early interest in and love for mathematics. The Speer family was not spared the terror experienced by much of Europe during the First World War, as the early years brought occasional aerial bombings to Mannheim due to its proximity to the French border.

The Treaty of Versailles that followed the savage war only aggravated the strong feelings of nationalism bordering on paranoia that had permeated Germany since its unification in 1871. Situated in the middle of Europe, the involvement of albert speer in nazi terror and anti semitism during the third riech Russia and France, Germany continually feared being encircled and denied its rightful place on the world stage.

Drawing on its Prussian roots, the new German state relied heavily on the influence of the military in its culture and public life. These factors nurtured a German disposition toward order and unquestioning state loyalty. Speer recalled his school years during the postwar Weimar Republic where, despite the installation of a democratic government, German society still had difficulty adjusting to Western-style personal freedom and liberty.

Students were told what to do and what to think. As he stated later in Inside the Third Reich: Father would have surely been glad to talk about politics with me, but I tended to dodge such discussions and he did not insist. The political indifference was characteristic of the youth of the period, tired and disillusioned as they were by a lost war, revolution, and inflation; but it prevented me from forming political standards, from setting up categories on which political judgments could be based.

Biographer Joachim Fest, in Speer: Speer admired his father but found him distant and reserved. I often wondered what happened to him as a child to make him into what he was, a brilliant man incapable of abstract thinking and, I think, incapable of sensual love and thus, finally, an incomplete man.

Is that the life you want? In 1924 he went to the Technical University of Munich. After graduating, he became an assistant professor at the unusually young age of twenty-three. He spoke urgently and with hypnotic persuasiveness. The next morning he joined the Nazi Party. From Architecture to Armaments Speer soon found himself on the road to fame. By luck, he gained small architectural commissions from the party, and he was soon earning notice from party leaders for his efficiency and ability to meet tight schedules.

After the Nazis won the election and Hitler became chancellor, Speer was invited to submit designs for the annual Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg.

In the weeks that followed, the two met and dined together on a near-daily basis, and formed a professional and personal friendship. In 1934, Hitler made Speer the chief architect of the Nazi Party.

Speer commandeered over a hundred anti-aircraft searchlights from around Germany and arranged them in a series to create a sort of pillared border around the nighttime rally at the enormous outdoor parade grounds.

The effect was solemn, almost spiritual, as the searchlights shone miles upward toward the overhanging clouds. The lights also magnified the apparent grandeur and scale of the rally, broadcasting to the world an exaggerated sense of German rearmament. Hitler wanted to make Berlin into the most impressive city in the world, conveying the beauty and overwhelming strength of the triumphal Reich that would dominate the world — and Speer was to be the master planner.

Hitler embraced this concept, which accorded with his vision of a Thousand Year Reich. Elsewhere, at the Nuremberg rally grounds, construction began but was never completed on a German Stadium that would have held 400,000 spectators. It is not certain that these plans could have been realized. Among other issues, Berlin was built on converted swampland, and there are serious doubts that the ground would have been able to support the huge weight of such structures; test structures built by the Nazis suggested that the buildings would sink well beyond tolerable limits.

Regardless of the feasibility, this was art and architecture based on ostentation and megalomania.

Wartime reports debunk Speer as the Good Nazi

The plans, of course, spoke of the intoxication with power not just of the state, but of the men who ran it. Speer found himself elevated with breathtaking rapidity to the highest echelons of power, and developed a close personal relationship with the most powerful man in Germany, who was idolized and worshiped by millions of Germans and feared by millions more around the world. Speer looked up to Hitler and seemed to crave his approval.

He had always considered himself an artist first, who only became a politician to realize his dream of a powerful Germany, and he saw in the young Speer his own unfulfilled self — someone who was technically capable of achieving his artistic dreams for a Germany that would rule the world.

In his new role, Speer commanded a massive sector of the German economy. Speer also had to guide an economy that was not yet fully devoted to the war effort, as the Allied economies largely were. Hitler had at first refused to allow the war effort to interfere with the production of everyday consumer goods; he understood the fragility of power well enough to know he could be toppled should widespread discontent develop.

  1. Regardless of the feasibility, this was art and architecture based on ostentation and megalomania.
  2. It was heralded in the mid to late 1960s by the appearance of seminal works by, among others, the sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf on the endemic weakness of democracy in German society, the historian Martin Broszat on the nature and structure of the German dictatorship, and the former Nazi architect and armament minister Albert Speer on Hitler's character and daily routine. In an interview with Die Welt, she said.
  3. The "leading perpetrators," on the other hand, bore such "unending guilt that their deeds could not be punished adequately by any earthly court.
  4. Hitler wanted to make Berlin into the most impressive city in the world, conveying the beauty and overwhelming strength of the triumphal Reich that would dominate the world — and Speer was to be the master planner. Although some Germans strongly agreed with the regime's anti-Semitic and antihumanitarian policies, many did not.
  5. Angry neighbors, bitter in-laws, and disgruntled work colleagues frequently used the state's secret police apparatus to settle their personal and often petty scores.

But this all changed after the Battle of Stalingrad concluded in February 1943. After this disastrous and pivotal loss, propaganda shifted to drumming up public support for total war, and the German economy became fully devoted to the war effort. Despite American and British bombers obliterating the huge factories feeding the Wehrmacht, Speer was actually able to increase German war production.

Incredibly, amidst the widespread destruction on the home front, German production peaked as late as 1944. From a technical standpoint, this was an astonishing achievement. The American and British bombers devastated whole cities and entire industrial complexes, yet Speer was able to increase production by moving critical munitions work underground, rapidly repairing damaged factories, decentralizing massive complexes, and scattering the production over a vast area, making it more difficult for Allied bombers to locate and destroy.

With millions of young German men serving on two fronts, there was a huge labor shortage in German industry, and Nazi ideology prevented women from filling these roles, as they largely did in Britain and America.

  • In retrospect, Speer realized how surprising it was that someone like him — a technical person, someone who relied solely on facts — could have made such a monumental decision without fully understanding what he was committing to;
  • According to Kershaw, Broszat, and several others, only Hitler continued to be held in esteem; only Hitler could have kept this turbulent society intact;
  • Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941 bis 1944" War of Annihilation;
  • What motivated citizens to denounce their neighbors, work colleagues, and relatives?
  • Someone measured the size and weight of a human corpse to determine how many could be stacked and efficiently incinerated within a crematorium.

Gitta Sereny, in The Healing Wound 2001reports that Speer directed an enormous workforce of 28 million, of whom 6 million were forcibly imported from conquered countries and 60,000 were the involvement of albert speer in nazi terror and anti semitism during the third riech prisoners.

Through his technical genius and the labor of millions of impressed workers, Speer was able to give Hitler and his armies the weapons needed to prolong the most murderous and devastating of all wars.

Speer was certainly intelligent enough to understand that the war was lost. And not only had Hitler brought Germany into a war of annihilation in which it was completely devastated, but he was now proposing an even more radical phase that would in effect wipe out the German nation.

The reserves to be called included young children, old men, and even the members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. At the exits, knowing the end was very near, Hitler Youth handed out potassium cyanide capsules to those Berliners who preferred to die rather than face the vengeful soldiers of the Red Army who were now at the gates, and were indeed soon to perpetrate atrocities upon the German civilians.

Speer grew apart from Hitler as the war began to be waged on German soil. His moral epiphany seems to have come when Hitler drew up the Nero Decree on March 19, 1945. Hitler was determined that if the German people could not achieve world domination, then the conquering armies should be left with nothing but a desolate and ruined country. Speer knew he was putting his life at risk by working against Hitler. Hitler trusted no one and had no remorse at having anyone he considered a traitor killed — including thousands of his own officers and soldiers over the course of the war.

Despite the personal risk involved, Speer used the privileged powers of his office to travel around the country that was now being inundated by enemy troops, convincing military leaders not to carry out the Nero Decree. Speer devised a complicated defense stating that as a high official in the Reich government he must be held accountable for its actions — but that he was not personally involved in the atrocities committed by Hitler and his henchmen.

He claimed that he was simply a technical person, an architect, and was unaware of the worst crimes being committed by the Nazi regime until it was almost too late. As with all the Nazi defendants, Speer was continually interviewed and analyzed by a variety of Allied doctors, lawyers, and intellectuals.

He struck them as different from all the rest. It was these qualities, combined with a conscience that subordinated everything to ambition, that made him one of the most dangerous of all the Nazis.

Responsibility and Denial Albert Speer spent the two decades of his captivity trying to come to terms with himself and his actions — trying to understand how he allowed himself to become subservient to the most wicked regime in history.

I had lived thoughtlessly among murderers.