Albert Speer, “the second man in the state” (Fest “Speer: The Final Verdict”), did not see himself as the typical Nazi, but a politically disengaged, amoral technocrat; yet “the economic and technical power at his disposal brought with it political responsibility” (Fest, “The Face of the Third Reich”).
From the beginning of his involvement with the NSDAP, Speer saw that the party had a generally low average intelligence, and that it “was easy to lead precisely because the lower level leaders had no leadership qualities” (Speer, “The Slave State”). In this way, “education, intelligence and also unusual firmness of character made Speer a genuine exception” (Fest, FTR). Hitler preferred to socialise with the “old guard”, generally unlike Speer, and in this we see Speer’s earlier, atypical standing with Hitler; Speer was seen as a protégé, as a “young untried architect who could carry the party’s ideology and [Hitler’s] own architectural ideas past his lifetime”(Frappel), rather than as an employee, as he was increasingly seen after becoming minister.
As Speer’s “power and influence were based on his close personal relationship with Hitler” (Fest, S:TFV), he had to learn to “win Hitler over time and time again”; the difference between Speer and the typical inner-circle Nazi was that Speer did so by manipulating Hitler with his “character, skill and play-making” (Fest, S:TFV) and by perpetuating Hitler’s fondness for their “warmest human relationship” (Hitler, cited K. Howell), as a means to this end.
Speer “prided himself on his abstinence from any kind of politics” (Fest, S:TFV) , and as late as 1944, sent Hitler a memorandum stating that “the task I have to fulfil is an unpolitical one”. However, van der Vat denies Speer was an “absent-minded, eyes-averted, amoral non-spectator”; it was exactly by Speer’s answering personally to Hitler, which he claims removed him from politicking, that enabled him to political castrate the likes of Lippert and Geisler in...