Was Albert Speer’s sentence at Nuremberg justified?

In 1946 the German Minister of Armaments Albert Speer was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Three of the eight judges wanted him to get the death penalty but the rest didn’t so a compromise was made.

In light of the information available at the time and everything that’s been revealed about Speer and Nazi Germany in the decades since the war ended do you think the sentence was justified or should Speer have gotten the death penalty (like 12 of his fellow defendants) or a life sentence (like Rudolf Hess)?
 
He was the only one of the Nuremberg Defendants to acknowledge his own guilt and more importantly he threw Labor Minister Franz Suckel under the bus.
There is also disputes on how much direct responsibility Speer had for the Shoal and other crimes against Humanity which I am just going to stand back and let people more knowledgeable then me educate and inform me.
 
I have to admit to having a bit of a "soft spot" for Speer.... much of what I learned early on of Nazi Germany comes from his writing. And yes, I know that some of his "contrition" may not have been entirely sincere, and that later research has proven that he knew far more than what he let on about... but still...
"Knowledge of" and "responsibility for" are two different things... he strikes me as a man looking back and trying to make sense of it all, and failing... after all, how can one truly comprehend the incomprehensible, especially when you were (in some way) a party to it all?
I'll defer on the question of whether 20 years or life was more appropriate... after all Hess departed Germany before the worst of the atrocities occurred... but I don't think that death would've been entirely appropriate in Speer's case...
 
Speer should have been sentenced to death. He was directly involved in the Holocaust, and most of the “disputes” about his level of involvement come from his own propaganda that was heavily spread around Europe.
Even if this wasn’t the case, how do the charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” only bring a 20 year sentence? That’s ludicrous.
 
Speer should have been sentenced to death. He was directly involved in the Holocaust, and most of the “disputes” about his level of involvement come from his own propaganda that was heavily spread around Europe.
Even if this wasn’t the case, how do the charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” only bring a 20 year sentence? That’s ludicrous.
This is the right answer. He was only able to get away with the reduced sentence due to a combination of charisma, personal relations and "snitching", as far as I know.
 
Speer should have been sentenced to death. He was directly involved in the Holocaust, and most of the “disputes” about his level of involvement come from his own propaganda that was heavily spread around Europe.
Even if this wasn’t the case, how do the charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” only brin
This is the right answer. He was only able to get away with the reduced sentence due to a combination of charisma, personal relations and "snitching", as far as I know.

g a 20 year sentence? That’s ludicrous

I have to admit to having a bit of a "soft spot" for Speer.... much of what I learned early on of Nazi Germany comes from his writing. And yes, I know that some of his "contrition" may not have been entirely sincere, and that later research has proven that he knew far more than what he let on about... but still...
"Knowledge of" and "responsibility for" are two different things... he strikes me as a man looking back and trying to make sense of it all, and failing... after all, how can one truly comprehend the incomprehensible, especially when you were (in some way) a party to it all?
I'll defer on the question of whether 20 years or life was more appropriate... after all Hess departed Germany before the worst of the atrocities occurred... but I don't think that death would've been entirely appropriate in Speer's case...
Speer played his cards right. He undoubtedly knew more than he let on - which saved his neck- and chose not to enquire too deeply. I also believe in both the death penalty and that no one should have to serve more than thirty years.
 
how do the charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” only bring a 20 year sentence? That’s ludicrous.
I don’t think the state should have the power to execute someone regardless of how evil they are but it is very interesting how many war criminals convicted at Nuremberg were given relatively light sentences (10-15 years) or had their sentences commuted. There were numerous cases where prisoners were released early because of health reasons. An example would be the Einsatzgruppen Trial where despite every defendant being responsible for thousands of deaths at minimum the majority received commuted sentences or early release later on.
 
In any judicial system that allows the death penality, everything other then execution for speer is a gross miscarriage of justice. He was directly, knowingly and willingly responsible for the deaths of tens/hundreds of thousands, and frequently an advocate for more violence and killing. There was good reasons for that even with taking his propaganda at face value, but the de-mystification efforts since then have only showed how absolutly evil the man was. Not one single ounce better then other Nazi Leaders, and worse then some.

Seriously, this guy, in internal debattes, was frequently a leading figure of the hardliners. Nobody in 2021 should believe his picture of a non-political, compassionate technokrat.
 
Speer should have been sentenced to death. He was directly involved in the Holocaust, and most of the “disputes” about his level of involvement come from his own propaganda that was heavily spread around Europe.
Even if this wasn’t the case, how do the charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” only bring a 20 year sentence? That’s ludicrous.
This. Joachim Fest book about Speer and his knowledge of Nazi policies pretty much rip across the argument that he didn't know much about the crimes happening in Europe. Not only he knew, but he was a key figure in that enourmous tragedy. It was a travesty of justice that he was allowed to die in freedom.

I'm personally against both the death penalty and life sentence, however, in a case like Nuremberg, i will gladly make a exception, and i believe that Mr Speer, alongside quite a few of his co-defendants, should have been hanged. I do not believe any of Mr. Speer's bullshit of not knowing about the Holocaust. I frankly do not believe even his assertion that he "regretted" what happened.
 
Speer is a familiar 'type' in regimes like Hitler's, the one who after the Leader is overthrown declares "ohhh I was on the side of the good guys the whole time, yes sir!" Perhaps he shouldn't have been executed (depending on your views of the death penalty) but he should have gotten more than he got, particularly in the court of public opinion.
 

CalBear

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In 1946 the German Minister of Armaments Albert Speer was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Three of the eight judges wanted him to get the death penalty but the rest didn’t so a compromise was made.

In light of the information available at the time and everything that’s been revealed about Speer and Nazi Germany in the decades since the war ended do you think the sentence was justified or should Speer have gotten the death penalty (like 12 of his fellow defendants) or a life sentence (like Rudolf Hess)?
I'm utterly opposed to the Death Penalty (although God knows that the Reich's leadership was worthy of the harshest punishment), so I have to say not to execution.

Live without possibility of any parole, with very limited outside contact (i.e. Supermax like conditions) should have been the sentence for all the Big Fish. Effectively "stuff them into a cell and weld the door shut" sentencing (with proper medical care and limited yard time with zero interaction with other prisoners (if you are curious about what I mean, look up USP Florence Administrative Maximum Security). Found God? Great; you have the rest of your life to pray for forgiveness. Sick with a terminal disease? We have medical care. Which part of Life Without Possibility of Any Parole is unclear?

Prison should be purpose built out in the middle of nowhere. Gough Island, South Georgia/South Sandwich Islands would be ideal, with a rotating guard force that overseas any prisoner form no more than 30 days and extremely limited contact with the inmate (Goring managed to befriend or bribe one of his jailers, which is how he got the cyanide he used to commit suicide) . Guard force made up of Polish, Israeli, Ukrainian, Belorussian (they have their own UN seats at Stalin's insistance, let them send personnel) guards under the command of officers from the Big Four Allied nations. STRICT discipline among the guard force. Their mission is to ensure that the prisoners have a lengthy stay.

After a prisoner dies, following a long lonely time in a cell with nothing but time to reflect, cremation and scattering of the ashes over running water or well out to sea (no grave = no pilgrimage location for idiots who idolize them). After the last one dies, destroy the structure and Salt the Earth where it stood. Put up a monument to the victims where the prison once stood.
 
Live without possibility of any parole, with very limited outside contact (i.e. Supermax like conditions) should have been the sentence for all the Big Fish.
One could only imagine if Hitler, Himmler, Bormann and Goebbels lived to serve life in prison. How they would all individually react and spend their time would be quite interesting assuming they didn’t kill themselves as soon as possible.

Would the “Big Fish” include death squad commanders and camp commandants or would they get a different sentence in your proposal?
 

Garrison

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Not in favour of the death penalty but yeah Speer got off light. His main talent was PR. From the 'Adolf Hitler Panzer Program' to his mea culpa at Nuremburg he sold one lie after another. He was a hardcore Nazi, happy to use slave labour to build the weapons that were absolutely going to turn the tide of the war. Even when others realized the war was lost he was still trying to drive Germany on to resist. Wages of Destruction gives a compelling account of his actions.
 

CalBear

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One could only imagine if Hitler, Himmler, Bormann and Goebbels lived to serve life in prison. How they would all individually react and spend their time would be quite interesting assuming they didn’t kill themselves as soon as possible.

Would the “Big Fish” include death squad commanders and camp commandants or would they get a different sentence in your proposal?
Whoever received Life sentences or the Death Penalty during the Trials go.

If done properly, the sort of imprisonment described makes it almost impossible to successfully commit suicide.

You just have lots of time to spend with yourself.
 
Whoever received Life sentences or the Death Penalty during the Trials go.

If done properly, the sort of imprisonment described makes it almost impossible to successfully commit suicide.

You just have lots of time to spend with yourself.
It's also a bigger punishment than the death sentence. Then it's quickly over.
 
It's also a bigger punishment than the death sentence. Then it's quickly over.
I suppose that depends on your belief in what is waiting for them.

I have no particular objection to the death penalty and I agree that if others merited the rope, Speer did as well. That said, I do like @CalBear's idea of the South Georgia facility. Personally I wouldn't pull it down afterwards however. If there is one thing you are always going to need eventually it is a place to stick a genocidal maniac. The prison can be donated to the ICJ when it comes around as a place to send the worst of the worst. Probably more secure than the Hauge.
 
Speer did get off lightly. He was also a great liar. He said on the stand that in early 1945 that he tried to kill Hitler by introducing poison gas into the ventilation system, but was stopped by the fact that large chimney had been built on top of the air duct he had planned to use. Another eyewitness stated that the chimney had been placed there long before Speer came up with his supposed plan.
 

Geon

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First, Hess was far from the "good" Nazi that he portrayed in his book Inside the Third Reich. He was right in the thick of the Holocaust. His building projects cost thousands of slave laborers their lives. He was instrumental in helping to develop slave labor as a viable means to keep German industry going during the manpower shortages later in the war.

I truly believe he deserved as Calbear indicated above - life in prison without parole in a special Supermax prison especially constructed for him and others.

In fact I agree with most of what Calbear said above with a few exceptions. @CalBear I hope you will bear with me on this.

I probably would still have condemned Himmler (had he survived) and Goering to death, likewise Jodl. Others lesser Nazi luminaries I would have sentenced the same as Speer. My reasoning? The top leadership was responsible for ordering millions to their deaths. The buck stopped with them for the most part. As far as I am concerned all three of them should have been hung, cremated, and their ashes scattered to the winds.

For the rest I agree with Calbear with one exception - don't have guards from the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Israel, or any nation that the Nazis victimized. Rather, have them guarded by guards either from the Allies or the neutral nations (but not Spain). My reasoning? You are opening the door for the guards of those nations the Nazis brutalized to do the same to them. If such a thing happened and one of the prisoners died say from a beating by the guards that generates sympathy for the prisoners. Which you definitely do not want. Have them guarded by allied and neutral troops rotated regularly. Otherwise I agree with Calbear's idea.
 
It's also a bigger punishment than the death sentence. Then it's quickly over.
There was a poll done once on death row inmates in the US on whether or not they would rather be executed or spend life in prison. The vast majority said they’d rather die in prison than be executed. You may see life in prison as worse than death (and I understand and wouldn’t want to experience it) but the people put into the actual situation have the opposite opinion for the most part. It takes extreme circumstances to make someone willingly choose to die. Even in the Nazi concentration camps and Soviet gulags suicide was relatively rare.

Life in a super maximum security prison like ADX Florence is obviously subpar but you can still eke out an okay existence inside. As an example the Unabomber and Eric Rudolph have written extensively and continue to read, write and correspond in ADX Florence and there are numerous other inmates in similar conditions that do similar things to stave off boredom. They’re not driven insane by isolation or anything like that. They’re still functional human beings.
 
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