This Day In HIstory: Albert Speer Asks Hitler For Slave Laborers (1941)

Fritz-Todt-Ring für Reichsminister Speer Der Reichsminister für Bewaffnung und Munition Albert Speer, erstattete dem Führer im Führerhauptquartier im Beisein der führenden Männer der Selbstverantwortung der deutschen Rüstungsindustrie und der Amtschefs seines Ministeriums Meldung über die außerordentliche Steigerung der Waffen-, Panzer- und Munitionserzeugung im abgelaufenen Jahr. In Anerkennung seiner einmaligen Leistungen auf dem Gebiete der deutschen Technik überreichte der Führer dem Reichsminister Albert Speer den Fritz-Todt-Ring der Deutschen Technik in einer mit der Bildnisplakette von Dr. Fritz Todt gezierten silbernen Kassette. 4.6.43 [Herausgabedatum]
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On this day in 1941, Albert Speer, the minister for war production asks Hitler for some 30,000 Soviet POWs to work as laborers on Berlin building projects.  The prisoners were to be used as slave laborers on a massive building program. This was contrary to the Geneva Convention that regulated and protected the rights of POWs during the war.

Speer was a very influential figure in Nazi Germany and was particularly close to Hitler and was his personal architect. He was born in Mannheim in 1905, he was a qualified architect and became a Nazi in the late 1930s. He became a convinced Nazi after attending a meeting, where Hitler spoke. Hitler was also impressed by the young Speer. He was soon Hitler’s personal architect. He was commissioned by Hitler to design the parade grounds  Nuremberg Party Congress in 1934, which Leni Riefenstahl made famous in her famous controversial film Triumph of the Will. Speer also helped to organize some of Hitler’s mass-rallies.

Der Führer am Erntedanktag in Goslar Um 10 Uhr früh traf heute der Führer in Goslar ein, wo er von dem Reichsbauernführer Darre, dem Chef des Stabes Lutze, Minister Goebbels und Reichsarbeitsführer Hierl empfangen wurde. Der Führer begab sich sodann durch die reich geschmückte alte Stadt, überall jubelnd begrüßt zur Kaiserpfalz, wo er die Bauernabordnungen aus dem ganzen Reich empfing. Unser Bild zeigt den Führer beim Abschreiten der Front der Reichswehr Ehrenkompagnie vor der Kaiserpfalz. Foto Scherl Bilderdienst Berlin S.W.
Hitler in 1940

Hitler made Speer Minister for Armaments, despite him having little experience. However, he proved to be a brilliant choice and he was able to keep the Nazi War Machine going despite constant air attacks and a shortage of resources and raw materials.  In order to keep the Nazi War Machine going, Speer urged Hitler to supply him with slave labor. The Nazis had millions of Soviet prisoners. The slave laborers were soon set to work in terrible conditions on numerous projects.  Speer would later  use many slave laborers in the German armaments industry and countless died of ill-treatment, hunger, and neglect. By 1945 there were hundreds of thousands of slave laborers in the Third Reich and they were drawn from every country occupied by the Nazis. Their treatment was later regarded as a war crime by the allies after the war.

Hitler wanted to build a new ‘Berlin’ one that reflected Nazi power and ambitions. Speer along with being the Minister for Armaments was also the architect responsible for building a new German capital.

Speer wanted to begin construction even as the war waged and the RAF regularly bombed the German capital. Despite the limited resources Hitler agreed.  Soon the rebuilding projects were called off- because of the demands of the war.

Speer was tried after the war for his role in the Nazi government and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, at the Nuremberg Trials. He was given a 20-year sentence in Spandau Prions. He later wrote an autobiography where he tried to minimize his role in the Nazi reign of terror. He managed to fool many people. Nowadays he is widely seen as at least partly responsible for the deaths of thousands of slave laborers.

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