My maiden name is Helen Spear Youngblood, named for my grandmother Helen B. Hogue, and her husband Edwin Spear Youngblood, also named for his mother Clara B. Spear. I was always proud of the name Spear. As a child, living in Cherokee Indian territory, I was sure it must be an Indian name, both Spear and Youngblood! I was only mildly disappointed to give up my romantic notions when I realized they were both names of German origin! Youngblood started out as Jungblut, and Spear was spelled variously as Speer, and Spier at least.
When I thought of Germans, I thought Oktoberfest, colorful costumes, dancing and polkas, and of course beer! Obviously, I knew about Hitler and Nazis, but they were nightmares that I tried not to think about! I had Jewish friends, I knew about the Holocaust. Surely, no one in our family would be/could be a Nazi!
Just this week, my sister called with a request. She had heard a report, and read an article about a man named Albert Speer who was a Nazi who worked with Hitler, an architect. She wanted me to research and see if he was kin to our Speers. It only took a few minutes! I had already done a lot of research on our Spear line, and knowing some about his family from the reports, and from Wikipedia, it was easy to see that he was our fifth cousin. The relationship chart looks like this:
Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer (1905 – 1981)
is your 5th cousin 1x removed
father of Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer
father of Albert Sydney Speer
father of Charles Henry Speer
father of Edward Speer
father of Peter Speer
father of Gerrit Jansen Spier
son of Jacobus Spier
son of Hendrick Jansen Spier
son of Jacob Speer
daughter of Edwin Speer
son of Clara B. Spear
son of Edwin Spear Youngblood
You are the daughter of Cecil Hogue Youngblood
Oh my gracious, I will never think of my name the same again. I hate that it has been tainted this way. It is interesting however, this man, our cousin. Albert wasn’t just a Nazi, he became the Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich! He knew Hitler personally, were they friends? Apparently so, in his own memoirs he admits that he and Hitler were “closest of friends”.
In an article in Wikipedia, we learn that “Under his leadership, Germany’s war production continued to increase despite considerable Allied bombing. After the war, he was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the Nazi regime, principally for the use of forced labor. He served his full sentence, most of it at Spandau Prison in West Berlin.”
A movie was actually made about Albert! A BBC documentary, titled, “The Nazi Who Said Sorry” and can be seen on You Tube and is included here in this post. Both at his trial at Nuremberg, and after his 20 years of incarceration, when he was released, in 1966, Albert did state that he was sorry, that he was full of remorse for what the Nazi’s had done to the Jews. He steadfastly denied that he knew about Auschwitz and some of the worst atrocities against the Jews. Most scholars do not believe him, and it is very hard to believe.
While his remorse does not in any way excuse what he did, it does make me think. He wasn’t given a choice when first recruited as an architect by Hitler. At least, his choice would have been to accept or to die a traitor. But to succeed in such a stellar manner that he became the Minister of Armament and Hitler’s close friend—well, that has to be a choice!
Albert was released from Prison in 1966. In 1970 he published his memoir, Inside the Third Reich, which you can buy as a movie at this link. It is a terrifying movie I would not recommend. and in 1976, Spandau: the Secret Diaries. Albert Speer .
Born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer on March 19, 1905 in Mannheim, Baden, Germany, Albert married Margarete Weber in 1928, and together they had five children, three sons and two daughters. They remained estranged , the children and their father all of his life. He died in London on September 1, 1981.
Whether or not Speer knew of the Holocaust, or whether or not he was truly remorseful remain huge controversies among the scholars. It doesn’t seem possible to me that he would not have known everything from what I have read, and most “experts” doubt his innocence also. As a family member, I would be very pleased if that were true. This is history in our family. We had many American members of our family fighting Hitler. History is history. Unfortunately, there have been many happenings in history which we as a civilized society should disapprove of. However, like slavery, they happened, and only the study and understanding of the issues gives us a chance not to repeat such terrible acts.
If you are interested in further reading you might consider:
- Speer, Albert (1976), Spandau: The Secret Diaries [Translated by Richard and Clara Winston], New York and Toronto: Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-02-612810-0
- (Original German edition: Speer, Albert (1975), Spandauer Tagebücher [Spandau Diaries], Berlin and Frankfurt am Main: Propyläen/Ullstein Verlag,ISBN 978-3-549-17316-9, OCLC 185306869)
- Speer, Albert (1981), Infiltration: How Heinrich Himmler Schemed to Build an SS Industrial Empire, Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-02-612800-1
- (Original German edition: Speer, Albert (1981), Der Sklavenstaat : meine Auseinandersetzungen mit der SS [The Slave State: My Battles with the SS], Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, ISBN 978-3-421-06059-4, OCLC 7610230)
- van der Vat, Dan (1997), The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer, George Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 978-0-297-81721-5
You can find these and many more in the Wikipedia article at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Speer