“History highlights both virtues and faults”. To what extent does the study of Albert Speer support this view. Throughout the study of Albert Speer, history certainly highlights both virtues and faults. Albert Speer was an important figure throughout German history through his role in Nazi Germany via the Minister of Weapons and Munitions then later the Minister of Armaments and War Production but also his architectural work for the Nazis. Along with these virtues of Speer came his faults as well. Speer was accused of being a liar and a bad Nazi where he supposedly destroyed flats of which many were Jewish.
Therefore in essence history does highlight both virtue and fault through the study of Albert Speer. In 1934 Speer was appointed to be a personal architect for Hitler. Speer had been given so much responsibility by the Fuhrer to build designs such as the Berlin Olympic Stadium to be used for the Olympic Games but also the building of Berlin as the mega city of Europe to be named Germania. This suggests that the Fuhrer had trusted Speer and that Speer had achieved a virtue that he desired. To be the right hand man to Hitler.
This is also seen through Speer’s quote “if Hitler actually had a friend. I would certainly have been one of his close friends”. Along with his virtue came with a fault as well on his way up through the Nazi ranks. In building the new Berlin, Speer had to knock down property therefore he destroyed 52,000 flats, 23,000 of which belonged to the Jews. This statement suggests that Speer was not only a bad Nazi he took one step closer in proving that he was part of the Jewish extermination by removing them from their own homes. It clearly shows a fault in Albert Speer’s rise to prominence.
One of the main reason as to how and why Albert Speer was able to turn Germany from military disaster to a steady total war economy was when he was appointed for Armaments and War Production. This is seen as one of his greatest virtues as he single handily transformed Germany from the bottom to the top but eventually succumbing to defeat in 1945. Speer had increased production by 300%. He achieved a 97% increase in ammunition, a 27% increase in guns and a 25% increase in tanks. He achieved what he wanted. To turn the German economy into a total war economy.
Historians suggest his contribution and excellent skills were so great that he was able to prolong the war for at least another 2 years before eventually falling to the Allies. Therefore it is proven that this was one of Speer’s virtues throughout his Nazi years. A major decision made by Hitler would have had a telling effect on history hadn’t it been for Albert Speer defying his Fuhrer’s orders. This decision was the scorched earth policy announced by Hitler for the destruction of everything that could be used by invading forces, hence, the entire German land including infrastructure.
Speer once mentioned that “serving the Fuhrer and serving Germany were not the same thing”. It was this decision made by Speer that would have saved millions of Germans from poverty and slavery. Therefore it is seen that this virtue has impacted on history or else there would not be a Germany to this present day. Speer was also criticised and remembered for his use of slave labour after he was forced to hire a friend of Bormann in Sauckel. His way to taking the economy back to total war was halted when Speer didn’t have enough skilled workers.
Speer was in charge of 6 million workers by 1945 who worked 18 hours but also in very poor working conditions. His criticism had come due to the fact that he used Jewish workers from the concentration camps as slaves. This went against the Nazi way as Jewish people were banned from working in German industry although Speer didn’t seem to mind, as long as they worked hard he couldn’t care who they were. It’s considered to be a fault on Speer’s part as later he would face the Nuremburg trials on counts of exploiting Jewish workers into German industry when it was prohibited.
To go against all his virtues through his Nazi years, one of his greatest faults which is still discussed today is his knowledge and involvement with the extermination and concentration camps of the Jewish people. It is questionable whether Speer was at the Posen Meeting in 1943 as the concentration camp was mentioned at the meeting. Speer claimed to have left by then although sources suggest that this was the turning point in his faults to convict him at the Nuremburg trials for knowledge of the concentration camps and the Jewish people.
Speer had said in an interview that he had “tolerated” Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies suggesting he did not know about the persecution of the Jewish people. He may not have been supporting this view but his choice to ignore it is viewed as his greatest fault and this adds to why he is counted as an important figure to German history having survived the death penalty for all his convictions at the Nuremburg trials were he pleaded innocent to two counts of murder and persecution and knowledge of the concentration camps that the
Jews were involved in. Speer instead received 20 years prison sentence at the Spandau prison. This shows historians as well as others that Albert Speer’s purpose was to get to the top of the pile in the Nazi regime, to get on top of Hitler, although his virtues came along with major faults to stumble his passage. As for his Nuremburg trial convictions historian Ullrich said that “If the judges at Nuremburg had known what we know now, Speer would have been hung”.
In conclusion, it is certainly evident that there were two sides to Albert Speer and history has highlighted above that both virtues and faults have a had a major impact on what happened back then to what is happening at the present day. Therefore we can conclude that the study of Albert Speer does show that “History highlights both virtues and faults” and we can see that Speer was not only a good Nazi but also a two faced Nazi.