He was seen as “the Nazi who said sorry” as he accepted responsibility at the Nuremburg trials. However, many people also view him as the ‘disingenuous liar’ who lied to evade a death sentence in Nuremberg and his extent of involvement and knowledge of the treatment of Jews are still debated. Speer himself endeavoured to create an image of himself as a ‘good Nazi’ and that he was merely an ambitious architect who had been misguided into inner circles of Nazi politics.
Early life: Speer was born on 19 March, 1905, in Mannheim, Germany into an upper middle class family. He was the second of three boys of Albert Senior and Lina Speer. His father invested in property and land, thus allowing their family to avoid the disastrous effects of the hyperinflation in 1923 and the depression of 1930. Speer, although lived a comfortable lifestyle, experienced a loveless childhood. His parent and siblings were cold and detached towards him.
Historian Dan van der Vat believes that the coldness in his childhood background trained him for his emotional indifference and lack of empathy. After graduating as an architect in 1927 at the Technical University of Berlin, Speer began to work as Professor Tessenow’s assistant. Speer was quite an apolitical but was persuaded to attend a Nazi rally where Hitler would be talking. Speer was moved by Hitler’s speech and entranced by his charismatic personality. He became a member of the Nazi party on 1st March 1931.