Albert Speer - Do Events Shape People or Do People Shape Events?

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The Nuremburg Trial outcome is our vital evidence that Albert Speer was a man who was corrupted by the events at the time. He is the epitome of the saying “events shape people more than people shape events” as he merely rode the wave of Nazism. As German historian Joachim Fest stated, “He [Hitler] drew Speer to him like no one else, he singles him out and made him great” (Fest, The Face of Third Reich, pg 340). In any other situation it is inconceivable that an architect could have come to hold the title of Minister of Armaments and War Production. The event of Nazi Germany transformed an architect, whose destiny seemingly lay in continuing the family business, to a man answerable only to the ‘Fuhrer’. Albert Speer did not shape Nazi Germany: Nazi Germany shaped Speer.

Nazism was the facilitator of Speer’s success throughout his life. His membership with the party opened the doors of selective employment. He later stated, “For the commission to do a great building I would have sold my soul” (Van Der Vat, The Good Nazi, 1977). He did exactly this. Speer welcomed Nazism into his life for greater architectural opportunities. Speer’s study and training under Professor Heinrich Tessenow led him to develop a liking for the classic simplicity of the Doric style from ancient Greece. Hitler similarly, preferred the neoclassical style. Speer records that Hitler stated,

“No one will have particular loyalty to a city that lacks any individuality at all, that voids anything resembling art…all the glory and the treasure of our cities are the inheritance of the past…our cities today lack a towering symbol of community.” (Albert Speer, The Fuhrers Buildings, pg 1)

Hitler and Speer’s shared liking of traditional design, coupled with their contempt for modern styles provided Speer with the opportunity to make the type of impression that would result in an enormous boost to his career prospects in the Nazi regimes. An ongoing association with Hitler was developed;...
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