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Fritz Todt (4 September 1891 – 8 February 1942) was a German engineer and senior Nazi figure, the founder of Organisation Todt. He died in a plane crash during World War II.

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Life

Fritz Todt
Todt's grave in Berlin

Todt was born in Pforzheim, to a father who owned a small factory. He studied engineering in Karlsruhe and the School for Advanced Technical Studies in Technical University of Munich.

In World War I, he initially served with the infantry and then as an observer with the airforce, winning the Iron Cross. After his military service, he finished his studies in 1920 and joined at first the "Grün & Bilfinger AG, Mannheim" company and, later, the civil engineering company Sager & Woerner (1921)[1].

He joined the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) (better known as the Nazi Party) on 5 January 1922. In 1931, he became an Oberführer (a rank equivalent to senior Colonel) in the Sturmabteilung (S.A.), which was then commanded by Ernst Röhm: that year, Todt also completed his doctorate (on "Fehlerquellen beim Bau von Landstraßendecken aus Teer und Asphalt" - "Sources of defects in the construction of tarmac and asphalt road surfaces")[2] .

Following the appointment of Hitler as Reichskanzler on 30 January 1933, Todt became (in July) Generalinspektor für das deutsche Straßenwesen ("Inspector General for German Roadways") and was involved in the new construction company for the motorways (Reichsautobahnen)[3]. He later became Leiter des Hauptamts für Technik in der Reichsleitung der NSDAP ("Director of the Head Office for Engineering in the Administration of the Reich of the NSDAP") and Generalbevollmächtigter für die Regelung der Bauwirtschaft ("General Commissioner for the Regulation of the Construction Industry"). As a special privilege, Todt was permitted to have considerable power and was not necessarily immediately answerable to any of the Reich ministries. He was also appointed to the rank of Generalmajor of the Luftwaffe after its official promulgation in March 1935. Todt was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science by Hitler for his work on the autobahnen. This award was a replacement for the Nobel Prize which Hitler forbade Germans from accepting in 1936.

In 1938, he founded the Organisation Todt (OT), joining together government firms, private companies and the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labor Service), for the construction of the "West Wall", later renamed the "Siegfried Line", for the defence of the Reich territory. On 17 March 1940, he was appointed Reichsminister für Bewaffnung und Munition ("Reich Minister for Armaments and Munitions") and oversaw the work of Organisation Todt in the occupied west. After the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, he was appointed to manage the restoration of the infrastructure.

In 1941, he became increasingly distant from the commanders of the Wehrmacht and from Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, the Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe (Commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe) in particular. He did remain close to Hitler at this time; yet, after an inspection tour of the Eastern Front, he complained to Hitler that, without better equipment and supplies for the armed forces, it would be better to end the war with the USSR. Inevitably, Hitler rejected such an assessment of the situation and carried on the offensive against the Soviets regardless.

On 8 February 1942, while flying away from the conclusion of a meeting with Hitler at the Wolfsschanze ("Wolf's Lair") at Rastenburg, his aircraft exploded and crashed. He was succeeded as Reichsminister by Albert Speer, who had narrowly missed being on the same aircraft. [4 ] He was buried in the Invalidenfriedhof, located in the Scharnhorst-Strasse in Berlin and became the first holder, albeit posthumously, of the Deutscher Orden ("German Order"). It was even suggested that Todt was the victim of an assassination plot, but this has never been confirmed.

What was never in dispute, however, was that the OT used millions of forced laborers (Zwangsarbeiter) from the occupied countries of the Reich during World War II, and that the judging panel at the Nuremberg Trials (formally, the "Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Court") in 1946 sentenced Speer to 20 years' imprisonment for having headed this organisation and thus sanctioned the international illegal use of forced labor[4 ].

In popular culture

Fritz Todt is portrayed in Robert Wilson's novel "The Company of Strangers" (2001). In this book it is suggested that his death was organized by leading Nazi authorities.

See also

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The car is not a rabbit or a deer that jumps around in sweeping lines, but it is a man-made work of technology in need of an appropriate roadway. Rather, the car resembles a dragon fly or any other jumping animal that moves shorter distances in straight lines and then changes its direction at different points.

Fritz Todt (September 4, 1891February 8, 1942) was a German engineer and senior Nazi figure, the founder of Organisation Todt. He died in a plane crash during World War II. On February 8, 1942, while flying away from the conclusion of a meeting with Hitler at the Wolfsschanze ("Wolf's Lair") at Rastenburg, his aircraft exploded and crashed. He was succeeded as Reichsminister by Albert Speer, who had narrowly missed being on the same aircraft. He was buried in the Invalidenfriedhof, located in the Scharnhorst-Strasse in Berlin and became the first holder, albeit posthumously, of the German Order.

Sourced

  • The purpose of the Reichsautobahnen is to become the roads of Adolf Hitler.
    • Quoted in "Fascism in action: A documented study and analysis of fascism in Europe" - Page 147 - 1947
  • The car is not a rabbit or a deer that jumps around in sweeping lines, but it is a man-made work of technology in need of an appropriate roadway. Rather, the car resembles a dragon fly or any other jumping animal that moves shorter distances in straight lines and then changes its direction at different points.
    • Quoted in "Technologies of Landscape: From Reaping to Recycling" - by David E. Nye - Nature - 2000
  • I could not imagine that we should make much of an effort to preserve remainders of natural beauty in conquered Poland.
    • Quoted in "Technologies of Landscape: From Reaping to Recycling" - by David E. Nye - Nature - 2000 - Page 227
  • The external appearance of any construction projects that are created during the time of the National Socialist Reich must take on the sensibility of our time. Factories are the workplaces of our National Socialist racial comrades. Streets and highways carry the name of the Führer. Settlements today are not isolated communities, but rather parts of greater city-construction plans. Every work site must be properly located within its neighborhood and surrounding setting (i.e., the natural world).
    • Quoted in "Deutsche Technik", May 1938, p. 209
  • We do not build speedways, but roads which correspond to the character of the German landscape.
    • Quoted in "Vortrag in der Leipzig-Hochschule am 6.2.1934" in Die Autobahn, 4/1934, p. 125
  • For decades engineers have stood accused that their buildings do not have any cultural value. We have attempted to liberate engineering of this accusation. As National Socialists we are dedicated to working with boldness, but also with love of the Volk and our landscape in mind. These roads do not serve transportation alone, they also bind our Fatherland. In these highways our engineering will reflect the National Socialist movement.
    • Quoted in "Deutsche Technik", June 1935, p. 270
  • The German landscape is something unique that we cannot disturb and have no right to destroy. The more densely populated our 'living space' becomes with settlements, the greater our hunger will grow for unspoilt nature. The ever increasing spiritual damage caused by life within the big city will make this hunger practically uncontrollable... when we build here on this the landscape of our homeland we must be clear that we will protect its beauty; and in places where this beauty has already disappeared, we will reconstruct it.
    • Quoted in "Fritz Todt: Baumeister des Dritten Reiches" (München: F.A. Herbig, 1986), by Franz W. Seidler, p. 113

Unsourced

  • Man, machine and nature should function in artistic harmony.

External links

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