Assess the significance of Albert Speer in twentieth century national and international history
Albert Speer played a significant role in the direction of German National and to some aspects International history. Due to Speers closely formed ???friendship??™ with Hitler he became a very influential person throughout the Nazi regime. Not only were his architectural skills an asset to him but his organisational and management skills became very resourceful for the Nazi regime when he was appointed Minister of Armaments and Munitions.
The architectural design and the overseeing the construction of the Nuremberg rally sites were one of Speer??™s major architectural impacts on the Nazi regime. The Nuremberg rallies were central for the broadcasting of all Nazi propaganda. The Nuremberg Rally was an annual assembly of Nazism that Hitler was presented to the German people as the glorious national liberator. The rallies were also a place where new Nazi policies could be announced. The 1934 Nuremberg rally decor and design was an aspect of Speer??™s architectural integrity. He was able to effectively promote the Nazi party through the extensive use of the Nazi swastika flags and banners draped over houses and buildings in the surrounding areas. Speer wanted to leave a lasting impression on travelling and visiting dignitaries. The ???Cathedral of Lights??™ was Speers grand scheme to do so. The ???Cathedral of Lights??™ consisted of over 130 large searchlights directed towards the sky. Speer achieved his goal in leaving a lasting impression of the Nazi party on the British Ambassador, Sir Neville Henderson; he described the sight as being ???solemn and beautiful??¦ like being in a cathedral of ice.???
Hitler saw architecture as an expression of the national unity, strength and power of Nazi Germany. Within his proclaimed belief of the, ???thousand year Reich,??™ is a place where an architect should work with a politician in unison. Some of Speer??™s decisions were based upon how to create this great image of Hitler for the future generations. Though he didn??™t initially create the Hitler Myth, a lot of Speers work was aimed to boost the image of leader of a great and powerful nation. The ???Theory of Ruin Value??™ and the construction of buildings of stone and brick would bring eternal glory and greatness as they decayed in the distant future. With the model drawings of what the ruins would look like in a thousand year time it showed the something similar to that of the majestic ruins of Ancient Greece and Rome. The architectural designs of many of Germany??™s monumental sights such as; the new chancellery building, the 1933 Nuremberg rally bleachers, the entire Nuremberg rally site, and Germania all incorporated the ???theory of ruin value??™ this was to create elegance of the, ???thousand year Reich??™ ruins.
Since his rise in the Nazi party Speer??™s opinion of architecture became highly regarded. Though he was interested in some aspects of modern architecture in Germany his main inspiration came from nineteenth century architecture. There were many misunderstandings within Goebbels departments of Propaganda about what particular style of architecture would be prominent style. Speer set this straight with his neo ??“ classical style architecture that was mainly influenced from ancient Rome and Greece. The first major architectural project for the Reich Speer produced was the 1933 Nuremberg Rally site bleachers. With the model of the site Speer integrated immense neo-classical features but with some outside influences it still contained elements of simple abstract form. In this design project Speer suggested an architectural idea that would have an impact on the rest of the architectural designs in the Reich. Speers proposed, ???Theory of Ruin Value,??™ rejected the use of more modernised building materials of steel and iron, and in the process replacing them with more traditional building materials in stone and brick. The purpose behind Speer??™s theory was to coincide with Hitler??™s firm belief in the ???Thousand Year Reich.??™
The aim of creating buildings and structures out of stone and brick had the intention to create a ruin in the distant future. The aim for the ruins was to bring eternal glory to the buildings of the Third Reich, surpassing the glory of ancient Greece or Rome.
It can be said that Albert Speer??™s greatest contribution to the war effort was that he was able to increase the level of wartime productions and ultimately keep Germany in the war. When appointed to Minister of Armaments Speer changed the course of the war for Germany and the allies. At this stage the Germans were beginning to lose their way in the war and the war effort would have been considered lost. Speer??™s organisational skills and ability to control and plan things thoroughly is thought to be the reason why the Germans were able to maintain armament and munitions productions so long. Speer used every single raw material at his disposal to the best possible advantage, nothing they used was wasted and he created an efficient managing practice for the production of the raw materials. The energy and enthusiasm Speer expressed while doing his job inspired others around him. Speer even pushed for the development of new, and more advanced weaponry for the German army to give them the upper hand. Speer single handily organised the armaments production and increased the production by 55 percent from March to July of 1942. By May of 1943 it was increased by a further 50 percent.
With the wartime production at a record high, Speer??™s greatest problem he would face is finding enough workers to continue production. Speers campaigning was successful in diverting almost 6 million workers that were producing ordinary consumer items to war production. As the war continued and Germany started to occupy more countries, the majority labourers used in German wartime industry from 1943 onwards was all conscripted foreign labour. When German wartime production reached its peak, it was to be believed that there were almost 7 million foreign labourers and upward of 400,000 prisoners of war working as slave labourers.
As the war waged the toll the German state was starting to add up significantly. By late 1944 Speer realised the German war was lost. Speer kept informing Hitler of the desperate situation that Germany was in, but still Hitler refused to accept defeat. In late 1944 Hitler ordered Speer to fulfil a nation wide, ???scorched earth policy.??™ By this time Speer was looking towards Germanys future and openly defied Hitler??™s order. Speer travelled throughout Germany using his power in an attempt to countermand Hitler??™s order to pursue a, ???scorched earth policy.??™
Prior to the commencement of the Nuremberg Trials in September 1945, Speer went back and forth from the Americans to the British continuously being questioned about his role in the Nazi regime, about the armaments industry and the technical operations of the war. Speer was the nineteenth Nazi minister to stand trial. He had the most unique approach to the trials, he pleaded not guilty, but he did not deny his responsibility in carrying out his orders through the regime. Though Speer did deny having all or any knowledge of the Nazi??™s genocide of the Jews, but he did acknowledge his guilt for the exploitation of foreign labour in forced labour camps. He also claimed any responsibility for the Nazi regimes crimes from about 1942 ??“ 1945, this was confirmed in a statement that Speer made during the , ???as an important member of the leadership of the Reich, I therefore share in the general responsibility from 1942 onwards,???
Throughout the course of his trial he continuously drew attention to the defiance he had toward Hitler and the regime in the end. There were many things that he outlined to the Chief Prosecutor: he mainly drew attention to his efforts to save the industry and all public utilities from Hitler??™s scorched earth policy. Speer also made reference to the members of the July plot, and that he was the only Nazi minister that was considered as a possible minister for the new government