The Albert Speer house
Exactly across the street from the Gutshof entrance is the road towards what used to be Albert Speer’s house and atelier. The house is still occupied these days.
Albert Speer lived in the Ostertal, a valley somewhere in Bavaria. Here he had a small atelier which was just big enough to house a few drawing tables and some employees. In this little hunting lodge he drew the layout for a new Berlin in 1935.
Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer was born in 1905 in the city of Mannheimm and like his father and grandfather always wanted to be an architect. In 1931 other students took him to a political meeting in Berlin, there he saw and heard Adolf Hitler speak live for the first time. A few weeks later he chose the NSDAP as political party, and joined Adolf Hitler’s group of Nazi’s Albert Speer told an interviewer after the war. Albert Speers NSDAP party-member number was: 478.481.
In the beginning he was a courier for the NSDAP. But because he was an educated architect, he was called in for a small rebuilding job shortly after. With this small job he stepped in the spotlights of Adolf Hitler and became Hitler’s most important architect. Albert Speer mentioned his living conditions to Adolf Hitler, and Adolf immediately ordered Bormann to take care of Speer. The Speer family was relocated to an luxurious house on the Obersalzberg near the Fuhrers Berghof.
The Bechstein House
From the start of his political career, Adolf Hitler, received quite some support from Helene Bechstein. Her husband was a piano manufacturer and they donated large sums of money to Hitler’s Nazi party, the NSDAP.
Hitler got spoiled by Helene Bechstein, as a gift he received a luxury Mercedes from her. But this didn’t stop him to disown her from her house on the Obersalzberg when Martin Bormann needed one. By the time Albert Speer was ordered to take up residence on the Obersalzberg, the Bechstein house emptied again especially for the Speer family.
While living in the Bechstein house, Albert Speer designed a house for his family and an atelier for his staff. In 1937 the house and atelier were finished, and Speer left the Bechstein house shortly after.
In his new atelier Hitler and Speer had long conversations about the layout of “the new Berlin” which they named “Germania”, and other majestic building plans throughout Germany. Albert Speer didn’t like living on the Obersalzberg, he lost a big part of his freedom and he compared it to a reserve for wild animals. Hitler had a high regard for Albert Speer. In 1939 he named him a “genius designer and architect”.
Minister of Armament and Munitions
In 1942 Dr. Fritz Todt died in a mysterious plane accident. Albert Speer replaced him and was given the title of “Minister of armament and munitions”. He succeeded to greatly improve and increase the weapons production for the ever increasing demanding war machine. In 1943 and 1944, the German war production was at it’s peak, even though they were losing territory on all fronts and Allied bombardments on German industry happened on a daily basis. Görings failing Luftwaffe and thousands of anti-aircraft guns could not stop the Allied bombers. This industrial peak was reached by forcing thousands of foreign slave laborer’s from concentration camps and razzia’s in the occupied territories to work in the German factories, quite often they had to work to death.
The Nuremberg Trails – Spandau Prison
Albert Speer’s trail was processed at Nuremberg where he received a sentence of 20 year imprisonment in the Spandau prison near Berlin. He was the only Nazi that pleaded guilty, which probably saved him from the gallows. His release was on October the first 1966, being released from prison he started to write a few books about his life and his years in prison. He died in 1981 in London, 76 years old.
Visit the Speer Residence
The Albert Speer house and atelier are now civilian residences, so we treated them with respect and tried not to annoy the occupants or invade their privacy.