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(1905-1981) Nazi German architect and Minister of Armaments and War Production, convicted of war crimes at Nuremburg. An extraordinarily rare and important typed draft D.S. "Speer" in pencil, with an additional short autograph postscript in ink signed, "Sp." 2pp. legal folio, Nuremberg, Nov. 21, 1945 in German with numerous pencil corrections, emendations, notes and diagrams, being a draft of his opening declaration before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. In a two page draft that would mirror his ultimate defense strategy during his trial, Speer answers the four counts leveled against him which included conspiracy and participation in rearming Germany for war as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The most sympathetic defendant in the top-tier dock of defendants at Nuremberg, Speer was quick to cooperate with Allied authorities, even before his formal arrest on May 23, 1945 and continued his cooperation, allowing extended interviews on all manner of operations of the Nazi regime. According to Telford Taylor's work, The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials (1992), during his incarceration prior to trial, "he had been interrogated almost unceasingly, not only by the prosecution, but also by a string of military, administrative, engineering, and other visitors greedy for full information on the nature and workings of the German war machine...Thoughtful defendants can also profit from the questions and reactions of their integrators, and in all probability this experience aided Speer in framing his strategy for the trial". And that strategy was outlined in this draft of his opening statement before the court in both type and in notes outlining his thought process.

His ultimately successful defense rested on his admission of general guilt for the crimes of Hitler's Germany, while carefully limiting his own personal responsibility. This ran counter to Hermann Goering's strategy of flat denials of knowledge of any crimes, and painting the tribunal as a mere show trial. In particular, in answering to the first two counts, Speer flatly denied any responsibility as he was not a member of the German high command and was involved in purely civilian projects prior to 1942: "To point 1 an 2 of the accusation I must state that I was neither involved in the planning nor in the preparation of the war. I was, prior to 13 Feb. 1942, one of Hitler's architects. As an architect during the time of rearmament, until Sept. 1939, I utilized a large number of workers and considerable material exclusively for the peacetime construction. -- The implementation of Hitler's large construction plans was psychological and actually served as a hindrance to rearmament.". Indeed, Speer had little to do with the plan to create Lebensraum for the Third Reich and before teh war only served Hitler in his visions to create monuments to the party and country.

Counts three and four proved difficult to deny categorically, and Speer chose to qualify his role in the war machine that enslaved and killed millions. In particular, he chose to distance himself from Fritz Sauckel, who at the recommendation of Speer had been appointed minister of labor procurement in 1942. In that role Sauckel imported millions of forced laborers to act in industrial and even combat roles for Nazi Germany: " To point 3 and 4 of the accusation I must state: I was not a participant in the crimes against human life. I took measures against it and prevented Sauckel from bringing laborers to Germany until approved in mid-1943 when workers, prisoners of war and concentration camp prisoners were then utilized. The increase in production was delegated to other authorities within the Third Reich not subordinate to me and not in accordance with international regulations.". Interestingly, Speer chose this last phrase over the initial typed phrase "MIT DER HAAGER KONVENTION " or 'The Hague Convention' to use the more vague term of 'international regulations' not wanting to be too specific in his admission of wrongdoing. Despite his qualified explanation, he still agreed he should shoulder responsibility for his actions. Speer's statement concluded, "Since I was a minister, it is obvious that I must fully answer for the activities within my extensive field of work. -- I do not intend to answer for Hitler's orders. I accept full responsibility for myself: As Minister of Armaments and Production I accept full responsibility for my tasks. As a leader of the Third Reich I must accept full responsibility for actions within my influence. That is the decisive, difficult, moral decision I have to make. Duty to one's own people must stand higher than the oath or commitment to an individual or a system. Moreover, the regard for one's own life must also stand aside if events demand it. Also, in an authoritarian system, the leadership must make important and serious decisions of responsibility to its own people. Those who are obligated however, must govern their people within the general laws of humanness. -- Thus it is this common responsibility for one's own people that is automatically a responsibility to mankind. I, as an important member of the leadership of the Third Reich, have to carry this responsibility from 1942 and now must answer for the consequences". As this document was drafted by Speer to provide an initial plea to the four counts charges against him, the statement was rejected by the court. Below his signature, Speer added the following note in ink: "Addendum: this explanation could not be admitted before the court as only a 'Guilty' or 'Not Guilty' plea was allowed. Sp.". (Speer chose to plea, 'Not Guilty).

Speer's draft statement also helps reveal the development of his defense strategy; the verso of each page bears additional pencil notes in Speer's hand. The verso of the first page bears a table of names, places and statements, reading, in most part: "Toward 1938 / 39 // Insufficient. Done myself // When it was homemade it was getting better // Sometimes blurry. // Secret state police // Request denied // Turned Wehrmacht officers into enemies // Meeting with Hitler // Against Baumann Serving the German people // I'm partly guilty that is the main goal of the prosecution... // Became his enemy // Went sometimes directly to the boss // The union of the party // Dr. Goebbels // There has to be something in my speech against Luden // Ammunition factories in Warsaw". On the verso of the second page, Speer draws what appears to be a diagram possibly illustrating a chain of command. Most of the boxes (see illustration) are left blank, save for one which bears the word "Sauk": most likely a reference to Fritz Sauckel, who was appointed in 1942 as General Plenipotentiary for Labor Deployment on the recommendation of Speer. To the right of Sauckel's name is a series of arrows and dotted line...possibly illustrating Speer's thinking has he mounted his initial defense before the tribunal, examining possible official connections between Sauckel and Speer that would undermine his argument that he had no control over labor procurement. But in fact Speer did influence Sauckel's decisions tremendously. His continual pressure on Sauckel to produce millions of workers gave the labor minister little choice but to supply forced labor, and Speer was well aware of this. Sauckel would testify that out of five million foreign workers who arrived in Germany, perhaps 200,000 came voluntarily (Taylor, p. 429). Later, during the trial, he was oddly cavalier about his actions, according to Telford, he stated: "'I had no influence on the method by which workers were recruited. If the workers were being rough to Germany against their will that means, as I see it, that they were obligated by law to work for Germany. Whether the laws were justified or not, that was a matter I did not check at the time. Besides, this was no concern of mine" (Taylor, p. 451).

Speer's defense spared him from the gallows and the tribunal sentenced him to twenty years in prison. He spent the next two decades confined in Spandau Prison confined with six of his fellow defendants, all of whom were alienated from Speer for his admission of guilt and responsibility at Nuremburg. Following his release in 1966, he became a best-selling author, anonymously donating upwards of 80% of his royalties to Jewish charities, and made himself available to numerous historians and journalists. His works, including Inside the Third Reich have proven to be invaluable resources for historians studying Hitler's Germany.

A supreme rarity. This is the only example of a signed statement by any Nuremburg defendant we have ever encountered. Fortunately, from a collecting standpoint, the document was rejected by the tribunal and remained in Speer's possession. Both pages bear even toning, the usual folds, and minor marginal tears which cause some minor curling at the extreme edges, else very good condition. A truly remarkable and important document.
Estimate $ 2,500-3,500

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