by Martin Kitchen
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. Pp. xii, 442.
Illus., notes, biblio., index. $37.50. ISBN: 0300190441
Architect, Efficiency Expert, War Criminal, and Con Man
Kitchen, who has written widely on World War II and related topics, gives us a thorough biography of Albert Speer, the architect who became Hitler’s Minister of Armaments and War Production. Speer emerges as a rather derivative architect, a fairly able administrator and manager, and a shameless self promoter, to say nothing of being something of a con man, who not only fooled his master but also much of the world.
Having joined the Nazi Party several years before Hitler came to power, Speer was deeply complicit in war crimes, and eventually served 20 years for his role in the Nazi regime. But he escaped a full accounting for his crimes, most notably his role in the deaths of literally tens of thousands or people through “work to death” programs or by other means. Upon his release from Spandau prison in 1966, Speer began passing himself off an unwilling participant in the Nazi regime, writing two volumes memoirs white washing his activities in the furtherance of this idea, a line that which was bought by a surprising number of people, so that he was even the subject of a sympathetic film biography.
In the process of telling this story, Kitchen also gives us a very good look at the Reich’s industry during the war, the inner workings of the Nazi regime, and the course of the war. A very good read for those interested in the Third Reich or the industrial side of the war.
Note: Speer: Hitler’s Architect is also available in several e-formats