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Albert Speer Jr., Architect and Son of Hitler Confidant, Dies at 83

He had a particularly strong impact on Frankfurt, his home city, where he served as an adviser to the municipal government for many years and worked on master plans for the European Central Bank, as well as for a new section of the city known as the Europaviertel, which was built on land reclaimed from railroad freight yards.

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The Oval, a building designed by Mr. Speer’s firm at Baseler Platz in Frankfurt, Germany.

Credit
Christian Grau

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A criminal court complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, designed by Mr. Speer’s firm.

Credit
ADA Arriyadh Development Authority

Albert Speer Jr. was born in Berlin on July 29, 1934, only days before Hitler declared himself Führer, or leader, of Germany. Albert Jr. grew up in Berchtesgaden, Germany, the Alpine village used by Hitler as a retreat. Films from the 1930s show a young Mr. Speer playing on the veranda of Hitler’s villa while the dictator looks on. But Mr. Speer once told an interviewer that he had only vague memories of that time.

As Hitler’s chief architect, the elder Mr. Speer designed the Reichskanzlei in Berlin, the regime’s seat of power, and formulated extravagant plans to remake the German capital as a showcase of Nazi power, including erecting a People’s Hall in Berlin capable of holding 180,000 people.

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Albert Speer Sr. at the start of the war-crime trials in Nuremberg in 1945.

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European Pressphoto Agency

Appointed Germany’s armaments minister, Albert Speer used his organizational talents to maintain weapons production, largely through slave labor, and prolong the war. He was convicted during the Nuremberg trials and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He became one of the few top Nazis to express remorse for the regime’s crimes.

After he was imprisoned for war crimes, the Speer family moved in with Albert Jr.’s grandparents in Heidelberg. Albert Jr. developed a severe stutter, which he later overcame. He initially trained as a carpenter, then studied architecture at the Technical University of Munich before opening his own firm in Frankfurt in 1964.

Mr. Speer insisted that his decision to become an architect had little to do with his father. “I could draw well, I could express myself well, I had ideas,” he told an interviewer from ZDF, a German broadcaster, in 2005. “My father played almost no role.”

Over the years Mr. Speer made a name for himself specializing in large projects, often overseas. They included a criminal court complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; a government building complex in Changchun, China; and the campus of Fudan University in Shanghai.

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Mr. Speer in an undated photograph.

Credit
Robert Fischer

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Ingmar Speer, an actress known professionally as Ingmar Zeisberg. He had no children. Information on other survivors was not available.

As an architect, Mr. Speer said he had striven to give his projects a human scale that respected local culture and the environment.

He told the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2010 that he avoided talking about his father, who died in 1981.

“I have tried my whole life to separate myself from my father, to distance myself,” he said.

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