In his bestselling autobiography, Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and chief architect of Nazi Germany, repeatedly insisted he knew nothing of the genocidal crimes of Hitler’s Third Reich. In this revealing new biography, author Martin Kitchen disputes Speer’s lifelong assertions of ignorance and innocence, portraying a far darker figure who was deeply implicated in the appalling crimes committed by the regime he served so well.
Kitchen reconstructs Speer’s life with what we now know, including information from valuable new sources that have come to light only in recent years, challenging the portrait presented by earlier biographers and by Speer himself of a cultured technocrat devoted to his country while completely uninvolved in Nazi politics and crimes. The result is the first truly serious accounting of the man, his beliefs, and his actions during one of the darkest epochs in modern history, not only countering Speer’s claims of non-culpability but also disputing the commonly held misconception that it was his unique genius alone that kept the German military armed and fighting long after its defeat was inevitable.
“…paints an unsparing portrait of this “hollow man” Daniel Johnson, Standpoint
“Kitchen’s book systematically destroys the myth that Speer was somehow a ‘good Nazi’, and in doing so rips the mask of respectability from this legacy. Part history, part criminal investigation, part biography, Kitchen’s book is as captivating as it is significant. Hitler’s Architect is a vital work.” History of War
“Kitchen convincingly argues that, as Speer was Hitler’s confidante and ran the War Ministry from 1942 to 1945, it is unbelievable that he knew nothing about the deportation of Berlin’s Jews and the use of slave labour. Kitchen portrays a sinister figure who was deeply implicated in the crimes committed by the regime he served so well.” Rebecca Wallensteiner, Jewish Renaissance
“A 200,000 word charge sheet. Kitchen is steely, dogged and attentive to the small print. He shows Speer no mercy, nailing his every exculpatory ruse and demonstrating time and again how provisional the notion of truth was to him.” Jonathan Meades, London Review of Books
“Kitchen’s in-depth, deeply researched biography challenges Speer’s self-serving version, and presents a great deal of new material that was not available at Nuremberg or during most of Speer’s life… This is a dark, Faustian tale of a knowing pact with the devil.” Robert Carver, Military History
“A worthy addition to the ranks of Speer biographies, not least as convincing rebuttal of some of the myopic enthusiasms of his predecessors. Kitchen has taken a wrecking ball to Speer’s mendacious and meticulously created self-image. And about time, too.” Roger Moorhouse, History Today
“Martin Kitchen sets out to change an impression created by post-war Speer… He lays out evidence with lawyerly skill and in bulk” Stoddard Martin, Quarterly Review
"A devastating portrait of an empty, narcissistic and compulsively ambitious personality." Wall Street Journal
'Eloquently written, incisively argued and impressively researched, Martin Kitchen’s sober account of Albert Speer, who was perhaps closer to Adolf Hitler than any other man, shows beyond doubt the architect’s involvement in the expropriation of Berlin’s Jews and the exploitation of slave labour. Kitchen also reconstructs the outrageous alibi that Speer, assisted by admiring historians and journalists, provided after the war, namely that Hitler was singularly at fault for betraying the idealism of so many Germans. In this remarkable book, Kitchen reaches the opposite conclusion: it was the mirage of decency, competence and intelligence that made ambitious conspirators such as Speer so dangerous.' Peter Fritzsche, author of Life and Death in the Third Reich
"This judicious and important book offers the best critical synthesis of Albert Speer’s life and his role in the Third Reich, and will undoubtedly become the standard text on Speer in English." Jan Vermeiren, co-editor of History
"Kitchen, the author of a dozen works on 20th-century Germany, comprehensively disassembles Speer's alibis and excuses in this new book. His mastery of the revisionist evidence against Speer is complete." John Fund, National Review Online
"Excellent. . . . Kitchen brings to this book an unrelenting appetite for the truth and a piercing style." Robert Fulford, National Post
‘A more kindly view of Speer’s accomplishments is unlikely ever to prevail after this brilliant and devastating new biography of this manipulative monster … Kitchen lays out a case so airtight that one marvels anew how Speer survived the Nuremberg trials with his neck intact … [He] catches him in dozens of lies, big and small, throughout this harrowing account.’ Martin Filler, New York Review of Books
‘Kitchen ably portrays a hollow, cold, bourgeois man totally lacking in morals or scruples – exactly the type that made National Socialism possible and could do so again.’ Kirkus Reviews
Martin Kitchen is professor emeritus of history at Simon Fraser University and the author of numerous books on European and German history. He lives in British Columbia.