Albert Speer

Born March 19, 1905

 

Autobiography  

(Prepared ) for  Major Kelley

 

I.     Ancestors

Most of my ancestors from my father's side hail from Westphalia, a few also from Silenia.  They were, from many generations ago, in comfortable financial circumstances and in good middle-class professions and occupations.  Grandfather and father had the same profession as I; they were architects. - My grandfather died early; therefore his possessions were used and spent in the youth of my father for the education of grandfather's many children.

     My father had to start afresh without any financial means.  He had much success as an architect in Southern German, mainly in Baden.  His buildings can still t-day pass the test of artistic value.  -He made a lot of money, was thrifty and could thereby amass a fortune of about 1,000,000. - Mark, already before 1914.  About 1925 he gave up his business and retired to private life.

     The family of my father is very healthy.  Most of them became very old in full physical and mental freshness.  (Grandmother 99 years when she died, father died with 85.)

     The ancestors on my mother's side:   The family of grandfather were foresters in the Black Forest, that of my grandmother comes from the Rhine near Mayence. - My grandfather had a successful life. He started in Mayence, without any money, as a businessman and was at the end of his life owner of one of the most important firms in the tooltrade and the trade with machine-tools in German dandy he was also a manufacturer of machine-tools.

     The ancestors from mother's side were more prone to be sick.

 

II.     Curriculum vitae.

I grew up in comfortable circumstances.  My youth was spent in Heidelberg.  I was rather weak and susceptible to illnesses (dizziness, to fainting spells, to weakness of the vascular nerves.)  All this was cured by a lot of sports. - With 16 years I started to train for rowing competitions and won in subsequent years some somewhat important races. - I also became a mountain climber did quite a bit of alpine skiing in the Alps and made extensive tours on German rivers with collapsible boats.

     I was not an outstanding scholar while in primary and secondary school; only mathematics was a subject that I really liked.  Originally I intended to study Mathematics and Physics but my father decided that I should follow the family tradition and become an architect.

     When I was 17 I met my wife, fell in love and became engaged; much against the ideas of my parents, who wanted me to marry into money.  I remained however faithful to my present wife.

It was in Munich and in Berlin that I studied Architecture, and I acquired the degree of “Diplou-Ingenieur” there.  After that I was for several years First Assistant at the Technical University in Berlin-Charlottenburg.  In t his badly paid position I got married at the age of 24.

     In the Fall of 1931 I heard for the first time Hitler speak.  Soon afterwards I joined the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workmen's Party).  This gave me the chance of carrying out a rebuilding commission for the NSDAP - district of Berlin in 1932.  Since it was my first building it became rather expensive, which fact caused some financial difficulties for the NSDAP district of Berlin.

    There was no further chance of any activity in Berlin, and I returned therefore to Manheim towards the end of 1932, which was the locality of the former activity of my father, in order to carry out some minor commissions there.
     In 1933 came the chance to carry but minor rebuilding projects in Berlin.  Soon afterwards I had to decorate the big fetes of the Party, and this caused Hitler to notice me.  I met him in 1934, and from then on a fast rise as an architect began.  He gave us the orders for numerous new buildings in Berlin and Nurnberg, and eventually his biggest and most important building task, viz. the architectural and artistic reorganization and rebuilding of Berlin was entrusted to me.  Even though he had many preconceived opinions, he let his architects -he employed besides me 3 - 4 architect directly -work quite freely.
     Hitler liked my designs a lot and me too so that I belonged to his more intimate private circle.
     With the beginning of the war this cooperation fell apart, the building was discontinued and the builders and building workers were diverted to the building of factories for the rearmament of the Airforce.  Shortly after the armistice with France however the big peace building projects were taken up again, new plans were made and their implementation ordered.
     The 8th of February 1942 was my day of fate.  Dr. Todt crashed with an airplane, and some hours later I was his successor for all his numerous positions of which I did not know anything in the beginning.  -I was thus responsible for the armament industry, for the building, and for the supply of energy.  It went better than I thought it would.  The production was considerably increased, and through these successes I was entrusted in turn (1943) the armament supply for the Navy, the civil production, and finally in August 1944 also the armament for the airforce.
     The fight against the ever intensifying airattacks engaged all my working capacity. - Even the former enemies were astonished to see that we succeeded to increase our armaments further.  1944 was the year of by far the highest production and July 1944 was absolute record month of the whole war; from then on it went downhill, first slowly though, but finally, in Spring 1945, the arattacks led to a complete collapse of armament.

III.  Family and private life.
     My wife and I had shared the financially difficult times until 1934.  These years were however in retrospect the most beautiful years of my life.  Every year with collapsible kayak and … weeks of travel on the beautiful German rivers, the Danube or the Rhine, the Moselle, the Main or the Neckar, or on the Mocklenburg Lakes.  And in winter with rucksack and skis from alpine hut to alpine hut, with magnificent skihikings on the glaciers of the Austrian Alps and with climbing of “good” mountains.
     All that ended with the new and big architectural tasks.  These required imaginative gifts and again and again new ideas.  My wife had to stand back and had to reconcile herself to the fact that great … do not mean an improvement of one's own life. -She was with her altruism a great help and my most valuable support.  She kept me, with her modesty, on the right path. -Many temptations, to which many of those in power in the country succumbed, passed us by because of her steadfastness.
     Neither castles nor large villas, nor any big “lifestyle” made life completely unpalatable for us. -Although I was one of the first architects, equipped with all possibilities to build whatever I liked, we have therefore always preferred to live in small dwellings.

      The strain of the work led from 1937-1941 to nervous circulatory disorders with stomach and intestinal spaces, unstable bloodpressure and cramps.  I had no chance to recuperate before the war eased my artistic tasks.
     All sports … into the background from 1937 onwards.  Occasional skitrips were the only thing that remained. - My state of health worsened thereby somewhat.  In 1941 I had … infection with kidneystones.  (One big stone is still visible in the X-ray picture.)  In 1944, after a journey to the arctic front in … from January to May, I contracted a … in the knee and afterwards two successive lung-embolisms with a subsequent pleurisy.  The leg causes still difficulties to-day (swellings).

     From 1942 - 1943 the service load was so hurt, i.e. the fight against the airattacks, that one could no … … of any private life.  Short intervals of 2-3 days did not give much to my wife and my children.
     Thus the awareness that the family had to do without me during these last years is, under the present circumstances, particularly … for them and for me.

(signed)  Speer

October 17, 1945

End of translation.

 

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