Born in 1905 in Southern Germany, Speer joined the NSDAP in 1930, becoming the official architect of both party and state in 1934 and assuming responsibility for Armaments Production in 1941 as deputy to Fritz Todt. During the war Speer accrued substantial power over the German economy, and was responsible for much of the planning of post-war reconstruction. Speer would hold several positions in the Government of National Concentration formed after 1944, including the Economics Portfolio and a greatly expanded Armaments and Production Portfolio.
Regarded as an opponent of much SS policy, he benefited from the liquidation of Heinrich Himmler and his supporters in 1944. Speer's only real ally in the SS, Karl Hanke, survived the purge unscathed. Though a committed National Socialist, Speer was seen as typical of the new breed of rationalists and technocrats which came to power after the removal of many fanatical old guard SS and Party hard-liners. Speer was personally responsible for the denunciation of his longstanding rival, General Wilhelm Keitel, who was demoted, due to the involvement of his brother in the 'Himmler-Putsch'.