Demystifying Hitler’s Favorite Architect. Review of: Magnus Brechtken, Albert Speer. Eine deutsche Karriere
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2018
Albert Speer (1905–1981) undoubtedly occupies a special position in architectural history; his biography differs from that of all other 20th-century architects. The importance we attribute to him today is due not primarily to his work as an architect but to his role as one of the leading protagonists of the National Socialist regime, about which he spoke as a firsthand witness after World War II. The new, comprehensive, modestly illustrated biography Albert Speer. Eine deutsche Karriere, is by Magnus Brechtken, the deputy director of the Munich Institut für Zeitgeschichte and a professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. Magnus Brechtken has produced a superbly researched and brilliantly written biography. Thanks to intensive use of archival material, he not only succeeds in unmasking the remaining myths about Albert Speer, but also in deconstructing the disastrous influence of the Speer memoirs and biographies. One can only hope that more architectural historians will follow Brechtken’s methodological example and pursue a similarly critical approach. He sets standards not only for critically investigating an architect’s life and work from a contemporary ‘Täterforschung’ perspective; his biography also is an important lesson in critically revising architectural history, especially oral history, by scrutinizing memoirs and self-portrayals.