Albert Speer’s story is that of a man caught up too highly with power and of a man, according to himself, who did not want to know, and so he never did.
As the architect for the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler, it was Speer’s job to build the buildings, which in Hitler’s words, would make sure they were remembered. Before the war, Speer was the one who designed the 1936 Olympic Stadium, where Jessie Owens ran, Jessie was the man who beat the Germans.
He also contracted numerous jobs for the National Socialist Party, Hitler’s party. But in the end he was given “The Great Assignment.” He was to rebuild Berlin. In what would have been perhaps the most massive building project ever conceived Berlin was to be rebuilt along lines laid down by Adolf Hitler. The buildings were to be so large as to border on the ridiculous. An arch over four hundred feet high. It was never built, due to the fact that the ground would not support it, and it would have sunk through.
A dome was to be built that would have been so tall it would have risen above the clouds, and so large on the inside, fitting so many people, that it would have possibly had its own clouds and rain. Of course it, along with buildings planned to be over 22 million square feet, were never built, because the regime fell.
Albert Speer survived the Nuremburg Trial, with a prison sentence for allowing workers to be imported for his building projects, making use of slave labor. But of course Berlin was never rebuilt along his lines, instead it was destroyed. All that remained of the plans were a few wooden models and some pictures of what it would have looked like.
Speer, in his autobiography makes no excuses for his behavior, freely admitting he was caught up in the power he had and the positions he held. He would go to jail for twenty-one years in all. Although he does give a warning for the future, not to trust blindly. But he also reminds us “One does not always recognize the devil, when his hand is on your shoulder.”
Andrew C. Abbott