Scrapbookpages Blog

September 13, 2012

Did Albert Speer really design the Nazi gas chambers?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:02 am

Today I am writing in answer to a comment made on my blog, in which the following was stated:

Those in the docks at Nuremburg and subsequent trials across the world since 1947 acknowledge the gas chambers, including Speer, the architect of the gas chambers, amongst other buildings of notoriety he designed and had built. There is a reason why Speer’s children, whilst living nearby to Speer, would not live in the same house as him – they didn’t want to be associated with the man that designed the gas chambers because they understand the reasons why they were designed.

It was news to me that Albert Speer designed the Nazi gas chambers and had them built.  Way back in 1997, I purchased and read the book Inside the Third Reich, Memoirs by Albert Speer in preparation for a trip to Germany during which I planned to visit Nuremberg and then the Dachau concentration camp.  Today, I got out the book and decided to look through it to find out if Albert Speer really acknowledged that he had designed the Nazi gas chambers.  Fortunately, his book has an extensive index, which I consulted before reading the book again. The book is 526 pages long, so Thank God, he included an index.

In checking the index of Speer’s Memoirs, I found the term “Gas warfare,” but not “gas chambers,” nor any other reference to gassing.  In reading Speer’s book, back in 1997, I was struck by the fact that he was very proud of the structures that he had designed.  Did he leave out any mention of the gas chambers in his Memoirs because he was not proud of designing them?

Near the end of his book, on page 523, Speer admitted his guilt as a war criminal.  This quote is from Speer’s Memoirs:

I had participated in a war, which as we of the intimate circle should never have doubted, was aimed at world domination.  What is more, by my abilities and my energies, I had prolonged that war by many months.  I had assented to having the globe of the world crown that domed hall which was to be the symbol of the new Berlin.  Nor was it only symbolically that Hitler dreamed of possessing the globe. It was part of his dream to subjugate other nations.  France, I had heard him say many times, was to be reduced to the status of a small nation. Belgium, Holland, even Burgundy, were to be incorporated into his Reich. The national life of the Poles and the Soviet Russians was to be extinguished; they were to made into helot peoples.  Nor, for one who wanted to listen, had Hitler concealed his intention to exterminate the Jewish people.  In his speech of January 30, 1939, he openly stated as much. Although I never actually agreed with Hitler on these questions, I had nevertheless designed the buildings and produced the weapons that served his ends.

So it seems that Albert Speer admitted, in his Memoirs, that he “designed the buildings … that served [Hitler’s] ends.  Why didn’t Speer specify which buildings that he had designed to serve Hitler’s ends?

Did Hitler actually say in his January 30, 1939 speech that he was going to “exterminate the Jewish people”?  What German word did he use for the English word “exterminate”?  I don’t know so I had to look it up.  I found a website which has published Hitler’s entire speech, not in German, but translated into English.

This quote is from Hitler’s speech on January 30, 1939:

One thing I should like to say on this day, which may be memorable for others as well as for us Germans: In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet and have usually been ridiculed for it. During the time of my struggle for power, it was in the first instance the Jewish race that only received my prophecies with laughter when I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the State and with it that of the whole nation and that I would then, among many other things, settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face. Today I will once more be a prophet. If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war,then the result will not be the bolshevization of the earth, and this the victory of Jewry, butthe annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe! For the time when the non-Jewish nations had no propaganda is at an end. National Socialist Germany and fascist Italy have institutions that enable them when necessary to enlighten the world about the nature of a question of which many nations are instinctively conscious, but which they have not yet clearly thought out. At the moment Jews in certain countries may be fomenting hatred under the protection of a press, of the film, of wireless propaganda, of the theater, of literature, etc., all of which they control. . . .”

The nations are no longer willing to die on the battlefield that this unstable international race may profiteer from a war or satisfy its Old Testament vengeance. The Jewish watchword, ‘Workers of the world, unite!’ will be conquered by a higher realization, namely, ‘Workers of all classes and of all nations, recognize your common enemy!’

Note that Hitler said that he was going to “annihilate the Jewish race in Europe,” not that he was going to annihilate all the Jews in the world. Did Hitler mean that he was going to get the Jews out of Europe, or did he mean that he was going to kill the Jews in Europe?  If he killed only the Jews in Europe, this would not have solved his problem with International Jewry, since Jews from other continents would have quickly filled the void in Europe.

But I digress.  Let’s get back to Albert Speer.  At the Nuremberg IMT, a former prisoner at Mauthausen, named Francois Boix, identified Speer as one of the men who came to visit the Mauthausen camp. Now we’re getting somewhere.  Speer obviously went to Mauthausen to check on the construction of the gas chamber there, which he had designed.  Or did he have some other reason to visit Mauthausen? Like maybe he wanted to inspect the factories at Mauthausen, which were building armaments for the Germans in World War II.

The website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has this quote, from the testimony at Nuremberg, about Speer’s visit to the Mauthausen camp:

When did you see him? A. [Speer] came to the Gusen camp in 1943 to arrange for some constructions, and also to the quarry at Mauthausen. I did not see him myself as I was in the identification service of the camp and could not leave, but during these visits Paul Ricker, head of the identification department, took a roll of film with his Leica which I developed. On this film I recognised (sic) Speer and with him other leaders of the SS. Speer wore a light-coloured suit.

So Speer came to visit the Gusen and Mauthausen camps in 1943? Funny, he never mentioned Mauthausen in his Memoirs.  (The word Mauthausen is not in the index of his book.)

The gas chamber at Mauthausen was completed in the spring of 1942, according to testimony in the American Military Tribunal proceedings against the Mauthausen war criminals.  Why did Speer wait a whole year before going to inspect the Mauthausen gas chamber which he had allegedly designed?

I found some more information on the subject of Albert Speer and the gas chambers on this website. This quote is from the website:

Ernst Nielsen developed an interest in the Holocaust in the early 1970s. He first undertook some study of the subject at a university in 1975.  (Nielsen testified on behalf of Ernst Zündel at his trial in 1988.)

In 1977 [Nielsen] wrote to Albert Speer and arranged a meeting which took place for one hour in Heidelberg, West Germany. Speer had been the minister responsible for armaments and war production during the war. This meant he had been involved with Auschwitz since Auschwitz was an industrial centre. Nielsen asked Speer if there were gas chambers in Auschwitz. Speer replied that the first time he learned about gas chambers was during the Nuremberg trials. Nielsen met Zündel about a year later and told him about this meeting with Speer during one of many conversations he had with Zündel about the Holocaust story.

This information is from my own scrapbookpages.com website:

On March 30, 1943, Speer made his one and only visit to a concentration camp, taking a tour of Mauthausen, which at that time was just switching over from forced labor in the granite quarry to munitions factories using prison labor. Speer was a close personal friend of Hitler and one of the most powerful men in the Nazi government, holding the position of state architect and later the title of Armaments Minister. It was his job to work with Hitler, an amateur architect, in designing new buildings for Berlin and Linz. As the war progressed, plans for the buildings were put on hold and the concentration camps became work camps for the armaments industry, which was under the control of Speer.

Gitta Sereny, author of Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, wrote the following in regard to Speer’s visit to Mauthausen:

…he spent about forty-five minutes being given the so-called VIP tour which carefully protected visitors from seeing anything that might shock their sensibilities. It was no doubt under the utopian impression this tour provided that he wrote five days later to Himmler protesting against the “lavish building projects” he noticed in the camp. Given the extreme shortage of steel, wood and manpower for building armament factories desperately needed to supply the front lines, he felt that despite the admittedly important tasks for the war effort assigned to concentration camps, the SS really could not continue building along such generous lines:

“We must therefore carry out a new planning program for construction within the concentration camps, which, while allowing for the maximum success for present demands of the armament industry, will require a minimum of material and labor. The answer is an immediate switch to primitive construction methods.”

By “primitive construction methods,” Speer meant such things as temporary unpainted wooden barracks buildings, like the ones used at Auschwitz, which had unplastered walls and no windows because they were really intended to be used for horse barns. Mauthausen, with its granite buildings and painted wooden barracks with windows, was too nice for the slave laborers in Speer’s estimation.

You can see photos of the beautiful buildings at Mauthausen on my website here.

According to Sereny, Speer talked to a friend, Annamarie Kempf, about his trip to Mauthausen. Annamarie told the author:

Now of course, we know that what they showed him was all fake – what they called their “VIP treatment”: a couple of good barracks with, for God’s sake, vases with flowers; shiny kitchens with tasty food on the stove; immaculate shower rooms; and clean, robust-looking prisoners who declared themselves well satisfied with their imprisonment. No wonder he said it wasn’t so bad.

Conditions in all the camps in Greater Germany, which included Austria, deteriorated rapidly when the camps in what is now Poland had to be evacuated, beginning in the summer of 1944, as the Army of the Soviet Union advanced. On October 17, 1944, there were 6,969 male inmates and 399 female inmates at Mauthausen, according to the camp records. After prisoners began to arrive from Auschwitz, which was evacuated beginning in October 1944, the main camp at Mauthausen became seriously overcrowded, with 19,800 prisoners at one point, making conditions ideal for the spread of disease. From there, it was all downhill. By the time the American liberators arrived in the first week of May 1945, there was no more food, no flowers in the vases, no robust-looking prisoners and the shower room, which was actually a gas chamber, was filled with dead prisoners.

I have one whole section, on my website, about the Mauthausen gas chamber, which you can read here.  In all my research about Mauthausen, I never learned that it was Albert Speer who had designed the gas chamber there.  He must have designed the Mauthausen gas chamber with beauty in mind, rather than workability.

The Memorial Site at Mauthausen does not acknowledge that the gas chamber was designed by Albert Speer.  Nor does any other Memorial Site acknowledge that Albert Speer designed the gas chamber in their former camp.

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