(March 19, 1905 - September
1, 1981), sometimes called 'the first architect of the Third Reich', was
Hitler's chief architect in Nazi Germany. Perhaps the most familiar of
his designs are the Nuremberg parade grounds seen in Leni Riefenstahl's
propaganda masterpiece, Triumph of the Will
. Speer was also directed
to make plans to rebuild post-war Berlin, which was to become the capital
of a supra-German state -- Germania
Hitler supposedly had a weakness for the young and handsome Speer, whose
designs were considered expressions of National Socialist principles. Hitler
made him Minister responsible for Armaments and War Production in 1942
to replace Fritz Todt. After the Wannsee conference, Speer was ordered
to work out the logistics of the "final solution of the Jewish question,"
making him a key figure in the perpetration of the Holocaust.
Speer pleaded guilty in the Nuremberg trials after World War II and
was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in Spandau Prison, East Berlin
largely for his use of slave labor. His release from prison in 1966 was
a world-wide media event. He published several semi-autobiographic books
until his death in London on September 1, 1981 - exactly 42 years after
World War II began. His books such as Inside the Third Reich provided
a unique and personal look into the personalities of the Nazi era. However,
many critics believe that his books understate his role in the atrocities
of the era.
His son also became a successful architect and was responsible for the
design of Expo 2000 - the world exposition that took place in Hanover in
the year 2000. He also designed the Shanghai International Automobile City.