The German Nazi leader Albert Speer, born March 19th 1905, died Sept. 2nd 1981, directed Germany's war production, using slave labor, during World War II. Speer, who joined the National Socialist party in 1931, became Adolf Hitler's architect, designing the Nuremberg stadium and other Nazi monuments. He was made minister of armaments in 1942 and expanded his planning responsibilities over most of Germany's wartime industry in 1943. In 1946 he was sentenced to 20 years in Spandau prison by the Nuremberg tribunal. After serving his sentence, he published the autobiographical Inside the Third Reich (1970) and Spandau: The Secret Diaries (1976).
Using his talents as an architect, Speer quickly rose up the Nazi ranks. Initially, he had Karl Hanke to thank for this. Speer’s first official ‘job’ for the Nazi’s was in the suburbs of Berlin and Hanke was the most senior Nazi in that area. Hanke got Speer to redecorate his house and was very pleased with the final result. Hanke then recommended Speer to Goebbels to improve the Nazi Party’s Berlin headquarters. The work Speer did on this task also went down well. After the Nazi’s gained power in January 1933, Goebbels employed Speer to redesign and improve his new headquarters. By impressing Goebbels – part of Hitler’s inner sanctum – it was not long before Hitler himself took an interest in what Speer had to offer the party, especially as Hitler in his earlier years had wanted to be an architect and believed that he still had some talent in this field. For Hitler, Speer was the perfect person with whom he could discuss architectural issues. Hitler knew the likes of Göering and Himmler knew little in actuality about architecture. What really impressed Hitler was Speer’s desire that architecture could be subtle but very obvious at the same time. In particular, Hitler liked Speer’s use of huge Nazi flags – each one was very much an obvious entity in itself but when many hundreds were displayed in a specific