Speer, Albert, born 19-03-1905 in Mannheim, Baden Württemberg, was active in sports, taking up skiing and mountaineering. Speer’s Heidelberg school offered rugby football, unusual for Germany, skiing, and Speer was a participant. He wanted to become a mathematician, but his father said if Speer chose 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 was educated in architectural studies at the Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe and later at the Universities of Munich and Berlin. In the summer of 1922 Speer got to know Magarete Weber from Heidelberg. They married in Berlin on 28-08-1928 despite Speer’s mother being against the relationship. Between 1934 and 1942 Margret gave birth to six children: Albert (*1934), Hilde (*1936), Fritz (*1937), Margarete (*1938), Arnold (* 1940, born Adolf, renamed after Adolf Hitler and Ernst (*1942), but Albert didn’t have much time for his kids.
Speer stated he was apolitical when he was a young man, and that he attended a Berlin Nazi rally in December 1930 at the urging of some of his students. He was surprised to find Hitler dressed in a neat blue suit, rather than the brown uniform seen on Nazi Party posters, and was greatly impressed, not only with Hitler’s proposals, but also with the man himself. Inspired by Hitler’s (see Parents)
In 1937, Hitler gave Speer the opportunity to fulfil his youthful architectural ambitions by appointing him Inspector General of the Reich. Hitler selected Speer, his “architect of genius,” to construct the Reich Chancellery in Berlin and the Party palace in Nuremberg. Hitler also commissioned him to refurbish Berlin, a project for which Speer prepared grandiose designs that were never completed. Speer became one of the most loyal members of the Nazi regime, like Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei), Martin Bormann and was a member of Hitler’s inner circle, with his wife Magarete. Eva Braun (see Braun parents) was good friends with Albert speer and his wife. In 1938, he was awarded the Nazi Golden Party Badge of Honor. Speer lived in a house with a studio on the Obersalzberg near the Berghof on the Obersalzberg and Adolf Hitler often walked there to dream about his great constructions. Hitler wanted Speer to build a new impressive Berlin.
A year later, Speer’s office assumed control of the allocation of apartments belonging to Berlin Jews who were evicted. His workload grew in 1941 after Berlin’s Jews were deported to the east. When Fritz Todt was killed in an air accident in February 1942, he crashed after a visit to Hitler in the Wolfschanze. Albert Speer who had at the last moment cancelled flying on the same plane as Todt, mysterious, was appointed to succeed him as Minister of Armaments. He later took on the grander title of Minister of Armaments and War Production and became the principal planner of the German war economy, responsible for the construction of strategic roads and defences, as well as military hardware. Despite the unrelenting Allied bombing attacks designed to disrupt war production, Speer managed to increase armament production dramatically. In 1941, Germany produced 9.540 front-line machines and 4.900 heavy tanks; in 1944, output reached 35.350 machines and 17.300 tanks. This impressive growth was achieved as a result of Speer’s use of prisoners of war and civilian slave labourers in the munitions factories. By September 1944, some seven and a half million foreigners worked as slave labourers and, in violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, Speer exploited two million prisoners of war in the production effort.