Rudolf Wolters
Rudolf Wolters was a German architect and government official, known for his longtime association with fellow architect and Third Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 official Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

. A friend and subordinate of Speer, Wolters received the many papers which were smuggled out of Spandau Prison
Spandau Prison
Spandau Prison was a prison situated in the borough of Spandau in western Berlin, constructed in 1876 and demolished in 1987 after the death of its last prisoner, Rudolf Hess, to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine. The prison was near, though not part of, the Renaissance-era Spandau Citadel...

 for Speer while he was imprisoned there, and kept them for him until Speer was released in 1966. After Speer's release, the friendship slowly collapsed, Wolters objecting strongly to Speer's blaming of Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and other Nazis for the Jewish Holocaust and World War II, and they saw nothing of each other in the decade before Speer's death in 1981.

Wolters, who was born to a Catholic middle-class family in the northern German town of Coesfeld
Coesfeld is the capital of the district of Coesfeld in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.-History:Coesfeld received its city rights in 1197, but was first recorded earlier than that in the biography of St. Ludger, patron and first bishop of the diocese of Munster who was born north of...

, obtained his degree and doctorate in architecture from the Technical University of Berlin
Technical University of Berlin
The Technische Universität Berlin is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. Translating the name into English is discouraged by the university, however paraphrasing as Berlin Institute of Technology is recommended by the university if necessary .The TU Berlin was founded...

, forging a close friendship with Speer while a student. After receiving his doctorate, he had difficulty finding employment prior to the Nazi rise to power. From 1933 to 1937, he worked for the Reichsbahn. In 1937, Speer hired him as a department head, and Wolters soon took major responsibility for Hitler's plan for the large scale reconstruction of Berlin
Welthauptstadt Germania
Welthauptstadt Germania refers to the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin during the Nazi period, part of Adolf Hitler's vision for the future of Germany after the planned victory in World War II...

. When Speer became Minister of Armaments and War Production in 1942, Wolters moved to his department, remaining his close associate.

After Speer's indictment and imprisonment for war crimes, Wolters stood by him. In addition to receiving and organizing Speer's clandestine notes from Spandau, which later served as the basis of his best-selling books of memoirs, Wolters quietly raised money for Speer. These funds were used to support Speer's family and for other purposes, according to directions which Wolters received from his former superior. Following Speer's release in 1966, their friendship gradually deteriorated, until the two men became so embittered that Wolters allowed papers demonstrating Speer's knowledge of the persecution of the Jews to become public in 1980.

Wolters was involved in the reconstruction of West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 following World War II, rebuilding his hometown of Coesfeld among many other projects. Wolters wrote several architectural books during the war, as well as a biography of Speer.

Early life

Wolters was born into a Catholic family in Coesfeld, Germany on August 3, 1903, the son of an architect who had married the daughter of a master carpenter in the shipbuilding trade. In his privately published memoirs, Segments of a Life, Wolters described his father as "a serious, conscientious and diligent man, always concerned about the future". Wolters regarded his mother as "a highly practical woman, full of zest for life, who in hard times thought nothing of serving a delicious roast without letting on it was horsemeat
Horse meat
Horse meat is the culinary name for meat cut from a horse. It is a major meat in only a few countries, notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant part of the culinary traditions of many others, from Europe to South America to Asia. The top eight countries consume about 4.7 million horses...

". Wolters passed a generally happy childhood, punctuated by the chaos of the war years
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and by a childhood illness that resulted in his being taught at home for a year by two priests.
After passing his Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

, or secondary school examination, he began his architectural studies at the Technical University of Munich
Technical University of Munich
The Technische Universität München is a research university with campuses in Munich, Garching, and Weihenstephan...

 in 1923. Wolters noted the politicized atmosphere of his student days, stating, "My academic freedom began, one might say, to the sound of drums: the Hitler Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 and its consequences to us students, most of whom were in agreement with it." Wolters, by his own admission, was in broad sympathy with Nazi aims, though he never saw a need to join the Party.

In 1924, Wolters met Albert Speer, who was a year behind him. Wolters transferred to the Technical University of Berlin later that year, followed by Speer in 1925. Wolters sought to study under Professor Hans Poelzig
Hans Poelzig
Hans Poelzig was a German architect, painter and set designer.-Life:Poelzig was born in Berlin in 1869 to the countess Clara Henrietta Maria Poelzig while she was married to George Acland Ames, an Englishman...

, but there was no room in the course for the transfer student. Instead, Wolters studied under Heinrich Tessenow
Heinrich Tessenow
Heinrich Tessenow was a German architect, professor, and urban planner active in the Weimar era.-Biography:...

, as did Speer. Wolters obtained his degree in 1927, and earned his doctorate at the school two years later. In class prize competition, Wolters generally finished second to Speer.

Wolters' graduation coincided with the start of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, and he had great difficulty finding a job, eventually settling for an unpaid position at Reichsbahn headquarters in Berlin in 1930. Upon losing that position the following year, Wolters accepted a position with the Trans-Siberian Railway
Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world...

's urban planning division in Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk is the third-largest city in Russia, after Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the largest city of Siberia, with a population of 1,473,737 . It is the administrative center of Novosibirsk Oblast as well as of the Siberian Federal District...


Nazi era

In 1933, Wolters returned to Berlin, where he briefly worked as an assistant in Speer's office before returning to the Reichsbahn, this time getting paid for his work. Speer had forged a close relationship with Hitler, and in late 1936, Speer informed Wolters that the dictator would soon appoint Speer as Generalbauinspektor (GBI) or General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital, and suggested that Wolters resign his post with the railway and come work for him again. Wolters did so, beginning work at the GBI office in January 1937 as a Head of Department in the Planning Bureau. Wolters was one of a number of young, well-paid assistants of Speer at the GBI, who were collectively nicknamed "Speer's Kindergarten". Most of the Kindergarteners were not Nazi Party members, since Speer found that Party duties interfered with working time, and the Kindergarten was expected to work long hours. Speer had Hitler's permission to hire non-Nazis, so the GBI became something of a political sanctuary.
Wolters later wrote of his views at this time:
I had viewed Hitler and his movement with some skepticism, but when the abolition of the multi-party mess removed the obscenity of unemployment, and the first 1,000 kilometers of autobahns opened up a new era of mobility, I too saw the light: this was the time when Churchill said he hoped Great Britain would have a man like Hitler in time of peril, and when high church dignitaries and distinguished academics paid the Führer homage.

Much of Wolters' work at the GBI was connected to Hitler's plan for the large scale reconstruction of Berlin
Welthauptstadt Germania
Welthauptstadt Germania refers to the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin during the Nazi period, part of Adolf Hitler's vision for the future of Germany after the planned victory in World War II...

. The dictator had placed Speer in charge of this plan. The centerpiece of the scheme was a grand boulevard, 4.8 kilometres (3 mi) long, dubbed by Speer as the Prachtstrasse (Street of Magnificence) or "North–South Axis", for which the main design responsibility was delegated to Wolters. Wolters was also responsible for transport rings in the new Berlin, for museums, and for the GBI's press office. In 1939, Wolters became responsible for the architecture portion of the magazine, Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich (Art in the German Reich).

Wolters made several trips abroad in connection with his duties for the GBI. He visited the United States to study advanced transport systems, and Paris for the 1937 international exposition there. In 1939, Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 appointed him Exhibition Commissioner. Wolters took charge of organizing German architectural exhibits presented in other countries. Until 1943, Wolters traveled to other European capitals, and in addition to his duties as commissioner, gathered political intelligence. On his return, Wolters passed along his insights to Speer and some of these thoughts reached Hitler's ears.

In 1940, Wolters, a longtime diarist, suggested to Speer that he begin keeping a Chronik, or chronicle of the GBI's activities. Speer agreed, and instructed department heads to send Wolters raw material for the Chronik on a regular basis. Among other matters, the Chronik detailed the GBI's responsibility for administering a 1939 amendment to the Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

 which allowed Aryan
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

 landlords to evict Jewish tenants with virtually no notice. For example, the entry for August 1941 included this information: "According to a Speer directive a further action for the clearing of some five thousand Jewish flats is being started." The November entry noted that "roughly 4,500 Jews were evacuated". The dispossessed Jews were sent to the occupied territories, with the newspapers reporting, as directed by Goebbels: "Over the past few days many Jews have hurriedly left Germany, leaving debts behind them."

Wolters was given the additional task in 1941 of setting up a special section of the government publishing house which specialized in works of architecture. Wolters wrote several books on the Third Reich's architectural works
Nazi architecture
Nazi architecture was an architectural plan which played a role in the Nazi party's plans to create a cultural and spiritual rebirth in Germany as part of the Third Reich....

 during the war years
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He rejected the notion that Nazi architecture was an imitation of classical models: "Those who speak of neo-classicism have not understood the spirit of our buildings."
In February 1942, following the death of Fritz Todt
Fritz Todt
Fritz Todt was a German engineer and senior Nazi figure, the founder of Organisation Todt. He died in a plane crash during World War II.- Life :Todt was born in Pforzheim to a father who owned a small factory...

, Hitler appointed Speer as Minister of Armaments and War Production. Wolters followed Speer to his new ministry, becoming head of the Department of Culture, Media, and Propaganda of the Organization Todt. Wolters continued his Chronik in the new position.

In December 1943, Speer put Wolters in charge of planning for the reconstruction of bombed German cities. Wolters organized a working group of about twenty architects and city planners, mostly from northern Germany. The work of this group, known as the Arbeitsstab Wiederaufbauplanung (Task Force for Reconstruction Planning), would form the basis for the actual postwar reconstruction of Germany. Speer, who authorized the group, saw an opportunity to make German cities more habitable in the age of the automobile. The group sought solutions which would use the existing street system, rather than the grand ceremonial boulevards common in Nazi city planning. In addition, the Arbeitsstab issued extensive guidelines, ranging from the width of avenues that carried streetcar lines to the ratio of theatre seats to inhabitants.

Wolters rarely met Hitler, and only in the company of other members of Speer's office. He later recorded,
Of course, from these few experiences, I cannot judge Hitler's personality, but having shared with Speer his virtually daily contacts with him, and being familiar with Hitler's ideas, for example, on town planning, I think that commentators are making it easy for themselves now when, as they frequently do, they resort in their descriptions to simplistic epitaphs such as "buck private", "wall painter", "petit-bourgeois philistine", or "history's greatest criminal".

Wolters' longtime secretary, Marion Riesser, was half-Jewish, and Wolters protected her throughout the war. In late 1944, word reached them that those with Jewish ancestry who remained free would be called up and used for cannon fodder. Wolters met with Riesser and the three other half-Jews
Mischling was the German term used during the Third Reich to denote persons deemed to have only partial Aryan ancestry. The word has essentially the same origin as mestee in English, mestizo in Spanish and métis in French...

 in the Speer organizations, telling them if it became necessary (which it did not), the four would be transferred to essential war factories where they would be safe. Wolters told them, "With Albert Speer's help one can do anything."

In February 1945, as the Nazi regime collapsed, Speer instructed Wolters to take other high-ranking officials in his department, including Heinrich Lübke
Heinrich Lübke
Karl Heinrich Lübke was President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1959 to 1969.-Biography:...

, and set up architectural offices in the north of Germany to work on large-scale prefabricated housing. Speer expected to join them, but not then, as he anticipated that the Allies would want to use his expertise towards the reconstruction of Germany. This did not come to pass; Speer was arrested and charged with war crimes.

Architectural work

As Speer had instructed, Wolters set up a small office in the North German town of Höxter
Höxter is the seat of the Höxter district, and a town in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia on the left bank of the river Weser, 52 km north of Kassel in the centre of the Weser Uplands...

 with Lübke, who knew the town's mayor. The new office was soon commissioned to rebuild a bridge which had been destroyed, contrary to Speer's instructions to preserve infrastructure. Later in 1945, the office was dissolved, and Wolters returned to his hometown of Coesfeld where he had been commissioned to rebuild the ruined city. Lübke instead turned to politics, rising quickly through the political ranks of postwar Germany. In 1959, Lübke became President of the Federal Republic of Germany
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

, a position in which he served almost ten years before he resigned over questions about what he may have known about forced labor while working in Speer's department.

Wolters was forced to rebuild in Coesfeld almost from scratch. With the widespread destruction, he had to lay out lots and rebuild streets, all without delay. He built a road through the grounds of the local castle, and converted the building into a hotel and conference center. The versatility he showed in the rebuilding of Coesfeld led to other commissions from German cities, including Rheine
Rheine is a city in the district of Steinfurt in Westphalia, Germany. It is the largest city in the district and the location of Rheine Air Base.-Geography:Rheine is located on the river Ems, approx. north of Münster, approx...

, Borken
Borken, North Rhine-Westphalia
-Neighbouring places:* Raesfeld* Heiden* Südlohn* Rhede* Velen-Division of the town:Borken consists of 12 districts:-History:The name comes from the German word "Burg" or "Burk" and gradually changed to "Burke", then "Burken" and finally to "Borken". Around the year 800 the village was being used...

 and Anholt
Isselburg is a town in the district of Borken, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located on the river Issel, near the border with the Netherlands, and approximately 10 km west of Bocholt.-Division:...


In 1947 and 1949, Wolters organized meetings of the former Arbeitsstab members, many of whom were intensively involved in the postwar reconstruction efforts. In 1950, Wolters won a competition to design the new police headquarters in Dortmund
Dortmund is a city in Germany. It is located in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Ruhr area. Its population of 585,045 makes it the 7th largest city in Germany and the 34th largest in the European Union....

  The Hotel Königshof in Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

, rebuilt by Wolters, had previously been the leading hotel in the city. It reopened by hosting the President of Italy in 1956 on his state visit, and again became the leading hotel in the then-capital of the Federal Republic, hosting heads of states (including U.S. Presidents Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

, Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, and Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

), state dinners, and events hosted by the Chancellor of Germany.

Wolters received so many commissions from the government of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

 that he opened an additional office in Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

. In 1955, Wolters won a competition to design the Industrie-Kreditbank building in Düsseldorf. Two years later, he was again successful in that city in a competition to design the Galarie Conzen. Wolters was awarded a prize for his design to reconstruct Düsseldorf's Altstadt (Old City). His son, Fritz Wolters, also an architect, described him as a man who fought uncompromisingly for what he saw as the "whole" in urban planning, and once ended a discussion with a local committee with the remark that they had "rented his head, not his pencil". Wolters also considered himself to be a "functionalist", designing a number of concrete, flat roofed, modern hospitals.

In the 1960s, Wolters and his son shared an office until their architectural differences separated them, Fritz Wolters being more interested in the small details rather than in what he described as "epoch-making" solutions. However, their personal relationship survived this professional separation. In 1978, Wolters published a book on the town centre of Berlin, but despite suggestions from his son, he declined to include his views about Nazi architecture
Nazi architecture
Nazi architecture was an architectural plan which played a role in the Nazi party's plans to create a cultural and spiritual rebirth in Germany as part of the Third Reich....

, and never did set forth such views to his colleagues.

Spandau years

Wolters did not attend the Nuremberg trial
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 (he later described it as a "victor's court" and as a "show trial") but wrote to Speer in January 1946, during the trial: "I stand by you in misfortune as in the good days. I believe as before in your lucky star." On August 10, as the trial approached its conclusion, Speer, anticipating the likelihood of a death sentence, wrote to Wolters asking him to "collect my work together for later ages and to recount much of my life. I think it will be honored one day." Despite his forebodings, Speer did not receive the death sentence, but on October 1, 1946, was given a sentence of twenty years in prison, and on July 18, 1947, was transferred to Spandau Prison to serve it.

Wolters and longtime Speer secretary Annemarie Kempf, while not permitted direct communication with Speer in Spandau, did what they could to help his family and carry out the requests Speer put in letters to his wife—the only written communication officially allowed Speer. Beginning in 1948, Speer had the services of a sympathetic Dutch orderly to smuggle mail. In 1949, Wolters opened a special bank account for Speer, the Schulgeldkonto or "School Fund Account", and began fundraising among those architects and industrialists who had benefited from Speer's activities during the war. At first the funds were used only to support Speer's family, but as the amounts grew and Speer's family became increasingly able to support itself, the money was used for everything from vacations for Speer's Spandau conduit, Toni Proost, to bribes for those who might be able to secure Speer's release. Once Speer became aware of the existence of the fund, he would often send detailed instructions about what to do with the money. Wolters raised a total of DM158,000 for Speer over the final seventeen years of his sentence.
In 1951, with secret means of communications established, Wolters sent his first letter to Speer in five years. He suggested that Speer move ahead with his memoirs. In January 1953, Speer began work on his draft memoirs, and over the next year lengthy missives, sometimes written on tobacco wrappings or candy wrappers but most often on toilet paper, made their way to Wolters' office in Coesfeld. Marion Riesser, who had continued as Wolters' secretary as he began private architectural practice, transcribed these notes into as many as forty closely typed pages per missive, and the draft totalled 1,100 pages. Wolters objected that Speer called Hitler a criminal in the draft, and Speer presciently observed that he would likely lose a good many friends were the memoirs ever to be published. Wolters had come to believe that reports of Nazi genocide were exaggerated by a factor of at least ten, that Hitler had not been given credit for the things he did right and that Germany had been harshly treated by the Allies.

In the mid-1950s, Wolters quarrelled with Kempf who effectively dropped out of the network for a number of years, adding to the burden on Wolters and Riesser. While Speer's pleas for his former associate and his former secretary to work together eventually brought about a healing of the breach, this was to some degree superficial as Kempf was aware that Wolters, even then, disagreed with Speer's opinions. Wolters questioned Speer's readiness to accept responsibility for the Nazi regime's excesses and did not believe Speer had anything to apologise for, though the strength of his feelings on this point was kept from Speer—but not from Kempf and Riesser.

Wolters was tireless in his efforts on behalf of Speer and his family to such an extent that his son, Fritz, later expressed feelings of neglect. For Speer's fiftieth birthday in March 1955, Wolters gathered letters from many of Speer's friends and wartime associates, and saw to it that they made their way inside the walls of Spandau in time for Speer's birthday. Wolters gave Speer's son Albert a summer job in his Düsseldorf office and a place to stay—in fact, Wolters hosted all six of the Speer children at one time or another. By prior arrangement, he and Speer tried to get in touch with each other by telepathy
Telepathy , is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference...

 one New Year's Eve—but both men fell asleep before midnight struck.

Wolters constantly sought Speer's early release, which required the consent of the four occupying powers. He engaged Düsseldorf attorney, and later state minister, Werner Schütz to lobby high German officials to get them to advocate Speer's release. Schütz, who refused to ask for his expenses, was unsuccessful even though Lübke, West German President for the last seven years of Speer's incarceration, had worked under Speer. Wolters had more success fending off denazification
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...

 proceedings against Speer, collecting many affidavits in Speer's favor, including one from Tessenow whom Speer had shielded during the war. Those proceedings dragged on for years, and were eventually ended by order of Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt, born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm , was a German politician, Mayor of West Berlin 1957–1966, Chancellor of West Germany 1969–1974, and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany 1964–1987....

, a strong supporter of Speer's.

As early as 1956, Wolters feared the effect that disclosure of the GBI's eviction of Jewish tenants might have on Speer. Wolters wrote to Kempf concerning the denazification proceedings, "I am only anxious about the matter of the clearance of Jew-flats in Berlin. That could be a bullseye. And this is the point to which the defense should direct itself ..." In 1964, Speer mentioned to Wolters in a letter that he would need the Chronik as a reference in revising his memoirs upon his release. Wolter's response was to have Riesser retype the entire Chronik, leaving out any mention of the GBI's involvement in the persecution of the Jews, without telling Speer what he was doing. Wolters later wrote that he did this to correct mistakes, to leave out extraneous matters, and "above all to delete certain parts on the basis of which Speer and one or another of his colleagues could still have been prosecuted. The Ludwigsburg Central office for 'war crimes' was still at work and an end of the persecution of National Socialists was not in sight."

In April 1965, with only eighteen months left of Speer's sentence, Wolters wrote to him of their prospective reunion, "[I]t will have been twenty years since I saw you last. What will there be between us old codgers, aside of course from happy memories of skiing tours in the long distant past[?] ... Will you come to me mainly to take receipt of the promised gift I have held for you in our cellar—that long cured Westphalian ham, and those patiently waiting bottles of your favorite nectar: Johannisberger 1937? Could these things of the senses end up being all that there is between us? I am so happy that the moment approaches, but my heart is heavy ..."

According to Riesser, she thought that Wolters "was frightened of the reality of Speer". However, Kempf thought Wolters wished Speer ill. Speer was unaware of the depth of Wolters' feelings, and later told his biographer-to-be Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

 that Wolters was the closest friend he had. Speer added that during the Spandau years, Wolters performed invaluable services for him and that he did not know how he would have survived Spandau without Wolters' assistance.

Throughout the latter part of Speer's imprisonment, Wolters was a faithful correspondent, writing lengthy letters to Speer at least once a month, attempting to tell Speer everything that might interest him but nothing that might hurt him. When Speer invented the concept of his "world wide walk", imagining his daily exercise around the prison yard to be segments in a long walk from Europe through Asia to North America, Wolters supplied Speer with details of what he would "see". Speer later stated, "In a manner of speaking, Rudi Wolters accompanied me on these walks." As midnight struck and October 1, 1966 began, Speer was released from Spandau Prison. His last use of the clandestine message system was to have a telegram sent to Wolters, in which Speer jokingly asked Wolters to pick him up thirty-five kilometres south of Guadalajara, Mexico, which he had "reached" after walking 31,936 kilometres.

Deterioration of relationship

After spending two weeks with his family, Speer came to Coesfeld to visit Wolters in October 1966. Shortly before Speer's visit, Annemarie Kempf had visited Wolters in Coesfeld to ask him not to allow his differences with Speer to affect their first meeting. Wolters responded that he and Speer were "too far apart". The visit was quickly marred by Speer's insistence on inviting industrialist Ernst Wolf Mommsen to Wolters' home instead of allowing a one-on-one reunion. According to Wolters' son Fritz, his father was furious and hurt by the perceived slight. While the actual meeting was casual and cordial (in addition to the long-promised ham and wine, Wolters turned over all of the accumulated papers from Speer, the censored copy of the Chronik and the remaining balance of DM25,000 in the School Fund Account), Wolters later wrote, "I knew that day of that first still merry reunion that the Spandau friendship was over. As he stood there, in person, I saw him suddenly quite differently than I had previously."

Wolters was perturbed by an interview with Speer published in Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

in November 1966, in which Speer, while again taking responsibility for crimes of the Nazi era, blamed Hitler, rather than Germany, for starting World War II. Wolters wrote to Speer on November 30, describing Speer's assignment of blame as a "dangerous oversimplification made entirely from today's perspective ... You will surely remember that in 1939 we were all of the opinion that Hitler was Germany ... [T]he responsibility for it was to be found in the provocative conduct by the Poles, and it was the British who made of it a world war." Wolters asked Speer to "concentrate wholly on what really happened, leaving aside what the world thinks of it now".

Their relationship was further embittered by Speer's failure to mention Wolters by name in Speer's first book based on the Spandau material, Inside the Third Reich
Inside the Third Reich
Inside the Third Reich is a memoir written by Albert Speer, the Nazi Minister of Armaments from 1942 to 1945, serving as Hitler's main architect before this period...

. Speer's initial draft of the book, written while in Spandau, does mention his "old university friend, Dr. Rudolf Wolters, to whom was assigned the most essential task, the Prachtstrasse" in connection with the Berlin project. However, Wolters' name appears nowhere in the published version, and no mention is made of Wolters' help, essential to the writing and preservation of the draft memoir. Speer later told his future biographer, Gitta Sereny
Gitta Sereny
Gitta Sereny is an Austrian-born biographer, historian and investigative journalist whose writing focuses mainly on the Holocaust and child abuse. She is the stepdaughter of the economist Ludwig von Mises....

, that he did so to protect Wolters, since it might have been risky for Wolters to have been known to have assisted an imprisoned war criminal. Sereny notes in her biography of Speer that it would not have been in Speer's interest to have publicized Wolter's assistance, given the growing disagreement between them over Speer's statements. Wolter's son, Fritz, suggested that had Speer mentioned Wolters even once, "it would have made all the difference", since it would have shown that Speer acknowledged the debt he owed Wolters for his efforts during his incarceration.

After the German edition of Inside the Third Reich was published in late 1969, Speer proposed a visit to the embittered Wolters in Coesfeld. Wolters advised against it, sarcastically suggesting that he was surprised that the author did not "walk through life in a hair shirt, distributing his fortune among the victims of National Socialism, forswear all the vanities and pleasures of life and live on locusts and wild honey". Nevertheless, Wolters expressed a willingness to meet, proposing (rather pointedly) a meeting at Wolters' house on November 19, Buß- und Bettag, the day of penance and prayer for German Protestants. Speer duly visited, and as the two sat down to lunch, enquired, "Where are the locusts?"

With research concluded upon Inside the Third Reich, Speer had donated the edited Chronik to the German Federal Archives
German Federal Archives
The German Federal Archives or Bundesarchiv are the National Archives of Germany. They were established at the current location in Koblenz in 1952....

 in Koblenz
Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, where the Deutsches Eck and its monument are situated.As Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus about 8 BC, the...

 in July 1969. David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

 compared the donated Chronik with a copy of the Chronik for 1943 in the Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. The museum was founded during the First World War in 1917 and intended as a record of the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire...

 in London, and discovered discrepancies. Irving asked the Archives and Speer the reason for the differences (which were minor compared with previous years). Speer requested an explanation from Wolters, and Wolters admitted the censorship by letter in January 1970, saying, "I wouldn't have put it past the Ludwigsbergern [German war crimes prosecutors] to launch an additional prosecution against you on the pretext that this charge [of evicting the Jews] was not included in the Nuremberg Indictment." Speer suggested that the pages of the Chronik dealing with the Jews should not exist, and informed the Archives that the original of the Chronik, from which the copy given to the Archives had been made, had disappeared. Wolters did not destroy the original as Speer had hinted.

Wolters' anger towards Speer burst into the open in 1971 after Speer did a lengthy interview for Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

, in which he again took responsibility for Nazi crimes and blamed Hitler and his associates for the war.

What is the matter with you that, that even after the unending admissions of guilt in [Inside the Third Reich] you cannot stop representing yourself ever more radically as a criminal for whom twenty years in prison was "too little"? ... there appears to be a vast and incomprehensible discrepancy between your humble confessions and your present way of life. For the former would lead one to expect a Speer in sackcloth and ashes; I, however, know you as a merry fellow who undertakes one lovely journey after another and who happily regales his old chums with tales of his literary and financial successes ... [Y]our accusations against your former colleagues (Göring, Goebbels, Bormann, etc.) who, being dead, cannot defend themselves are agony to me ... I hope and think that the day will come when you will no longer find it necessary to confess your guilt to all and sundry in order to persuade yourself of your virtue.

Wolters concluded his letter with a suggestion that they avoid seeing each other in future, a suggestion with which Speer concurred. In spite of this, Wolters' wife Erika remained close friends with Margarete Speer, Albert Speer's wife. The two men had Christmas presents delivered to each other every year (Wolters sent Speer a ham, while receiving a pot of honey). Speer admitted that because he had had few friends, the estrangement hurt.

In 1975, Wolters attempted a reconciliation, sending Speer a letter for his seventieth birthday in March. Speer responded emotionally, pledging to come visit Wolters at the slightest hint. Speer wrote again two months later, telling Wolters that "despite all inherent contradictions, I am very attached to you". Nevertheless, the two men never met again.

Even in Speer's second book of memoirs, Spandau: The Secret Diaries
Spandau: The Secret Diaries
Spandau: The Secret Diaries was a 1976 best selling book by Albert Speer. While it principally deals with Speer's time while incarcerated at Spandau Prison, it also contains much material on his role in the Third Reich and his relationship with Adolf Hitler....

, Wolters' name is not mentioned, and his hometown is changed; the text refers to him as Speer's "Coburg friend". Speer sent Wolters a copy of the book anyway, though Speer stated that he thought it likely that Wolters would let it sit in his bookcase unread. Wolters responded sarcastically in a letter which he signed, "Duke of Coburg," "I forgive you for not 'localizing' me in the diaries after your modest restraint in [Inside the Third Reich]. The author of the [Chronik], the temporary 'best friend', and the indefatigable contact for Spandau remains nonexistent."

Later life and death

Wolters bequeathed his papers to the Federal Archives, ensuring the record would be corrected one day. However, in late 1979, Speer was approached by Matthias Schmidt, a doctoral student, who sought answers to a number of questions for use in preparing his thesis. After answering Schmidt's questions, Speer referred Schmidt to Wolters for further information. Wolters took a liking to Schmidt, and showed him both the original Chronik and the correspondence in which Wolters had informed Speer of the censoring of the record. When confronted by Schmidt with this information, Speer both denied knowledge of the censorship and stated that the correspondence was not genuine. While Speer pledged not to take legal action against Schmidt for using the disputed papers (after obtaining his doctorate, Schmidt published his thesis as a book, Albert Speer: The End of a Myth), he made no such promise regarding Wolters. Speer published a formal revocation of a power of attorney he had given Wolters while in Spandau and disputed on legal grounds Wolters' right to the Chronik and other papers. The dispute was only ended by Speer's sudden death in London in September 1981.

Wolters died in January 1983 after a long illness. According to his son Fritz, his final word was "Albert". He had donated many of his papers to the Archives in 1982; after Wolters died, Riesser, as his literary executor, donated the remainder.

Books in German

  • Spezialist in Sibirien, Berlin: Wendt & Matthes Verlag, 1933.
  • Die Neue Reichskanzlei : Architekt Albert Speer, with Heinrich Wolff. Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1940.
  • Neue deutsche Baukunst, with Albert Speer. Berlin: Volk und Reich, 1943.
  • Albert Speer, Oldenburg: Stalling, 1943.
  • Vom Beruf des Baumeisters, Berlin: Volk und Reich, 1944.
  • Coesfeld Fragen und Antworten eines Städtebauers, Coesfeld: Kreisverwaltung, 1974.
  • Stadtmitte Berlin, Tübingen: Wasmuth, 1978. ISBN 3803001307
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