Fritz Todt was an German engineer and senior Nazi figure, the founder of Organisation Todt.
He was born in Pforzheim, Germany on September 4, 1891,
the son of a small factory owner. He studied engineering in Karlsruhe
and the School for Advanced Technical Studies in Munich. He took part
in WW I, initially with the infantry and then as an observer with the
airforce, winning the Iron Cross.
After the war, he finished his studies in 1920 and
joined the civil engineering company Sager & Woerner, which specialized
in building roads and tunnels. He joined the NSDAP in 1922 and later the Schutz
Staffeinel (SS). He was appointed an SS Colonel on Himmler's staff in 1931 and also completed his doctorate (on "Fehlerquellen
beim Bau von Landstraßendecken aus Teer und Asphalt").
In 1930, Todt published a paper, “Proposals and
Financial Plans for the Employment of One Million Men.” Adolf
Hitler was impressed by the paper and when he came to power in 1933 he appointed Todt as head of the new state-owned Reichsautobahnen Corporation
and was given the task of building a national highway system and ultimately
was responsible for the creation of the Autobahnen.
He later became Leiter des Hauptamts für Technik
in der Reichsleitung der NSDAP and Generalbevollmächtigter für die Regelung der Bauwirtschaft.
In 1938, he founded
Organisation Todt, joining together government firms, private companies
and the Reichsarbeitsdienst. Todt was also assigned the task of constructing
the Western Wall (known to the Allies as the Siegfried Line).
he was appointed Reich Minister for Munitions and oversaw the work of
Organisation Todt in the occupied west. The following year he was given
responsibility for restoring the road and rail system in the Soviet
Union. Todt's growing importance in the party hierarchy brought
him into conflict with Hermann
Goering and Martin Bormann.
Todt also helped to establish the Nationalsocialisticher
Bund Deutscher Technik that helped to organize engineers and managers
in the German construction industry. He also built the great defensive
systems, the Atlantic Wall and a chain of concrete U - boat shelters
along the French Atlantic coast. Entrusted within the Party organization
with the Head Office for Technology, all the major technical tasks of
the Third Reich concerning Germany's war effort were in his hands. In
all these massive communications works, SS General Todt had at his disposal
a vast army of slave labor as well as several divisions of troops.
Todt had frequently clashed with Goering,
but he enjoyed the high respect of Hitler who made him Inspector-General of roads, water and power in 1941.
After an inspection tour of the Eastern Front, he complained to Hitler that without better equipment and supplies it would be better to
end the war with the USSR.
In reward for building the motorways and the Western
Wall, he was the first German to receive the “German Order”
created by Hitler for
individuals who had rendered “special services to the German people.”
On February 8, 1942, while flying away from a meeting
with Hitler at Rastenburg,
his aircraft exploded and crashed. He was succeeded as Reichsminister
by Albert Speer, who
had narrowly missed being on the same aircraft.