'Hitler Was a Nice Uncle': Son of Hitler's Chief Architect Dies at 83

An accomplished architect himself, Albert Speer Jr. struggled to distance himself from his father's legacy, remembers visits to Hitler as 'joyous events'

Albert Speer with Adolf Hitler in 1938.
Albert Speer with Adolf Hitler in 1938. Bundesarchiv / German Federal Ar

Albert Speer Jr., son of Adolf Hitler's chief architect who had his own accomplished architectural career but struggled to distance himself from his father's legacy, died Friday in Frankfurt at age 83. 

Speer was 12 when his father was convicted in Nuremburg of war crimes and sentenced to 20 years in prison, where he was for much of his son's childhood. 

In a 2010 interview with German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung he said: "I'm always being asked about my father. It's annoying. I have tried my whole life to distance myself from my father, but it's hard for young journalists to accept that."

The Olympic stadium in Beijing, 2008.
AP

"From the perspective of a young boy," he recalls, "Hitler was a nice uncle to me. Visits to Hitler were somewhat joyous events. I was allowed to play with the dogs, I got sweets. I was 7 or 8, we didn't know..."

Professionally, Speer Jr. concentrated on designing environmentally sound and energy-efficient buildings. Many of his projects, however, were never implemented. 

In preparation for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Speer was criticized for a design that looked too similar to that of his fathers. "What I'm trying to do to Beijing is to take a 2,000-year-old city and move it into the future. In Berlin in the 1930s, it was just megalomania," Speer said. 

 His firm was selected to design the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.