Fritz Todt
Overview
 
Fritz Todt was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 engineer and senior Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 figure, the founder of Organisation Todt
Organisation Todt
The Todt Organisation, was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure...

. He died in a plane crash during World War II
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...

.
Todt was born in Pforzheim
Pforzheim
Pforzheim is a town of nearly 119,000 inhabitants in the state of Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany at the gate to the Black Forest. It is world-famous for its jewelry and watch-making industry. Until 1565 it was the home to the Margraves of Baden. Because of that it gained the nickname...

 to a father who owned a small factory. He studied engineering in Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe
The City of Karlsruhe is a city in the southwest of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, located near the French-German border.Karlsruhe was founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, when Germany was a series of principalities and city states...

 and the School for Advanced Technical Studies at the Technical University Munich.

In World War I
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...

, he initially served with the infantry and then as front line reconnaissance observer within German Air Forces (DLSK)
Luftstreitkräfte
The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte , known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches , or simply Die Fliegertruppen, was the air arm of the Imperial German Army during World War I...

, winning the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

.
Encyclopedia
Fritz Todt was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 engineer and senior Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 figure, the founder of Organisation Todt
Organisation Todt
The Todt Organisation, was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure...

. He died in a plane crash during World War II
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...

.

Life

Todt was born in Pforzheim
Pforzheim
Pforzheim is a town of nearly 119,000 inhabitants in the state of Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany at the gate to the Black Forest. It is world-famous for its jewelry and watch-making industry. Until 1565 it was the home to the Margraves of Baden. Because of that it gained the nickname...

 to a father who owned a small factory. He studied engineering in Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe
The City of Karlsruhe is a city in the southwest of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, located near the French-German border.Karlsruhe was founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, when Germany was a series of principalities and city states...

 and the School for Advanced Technical Studies at the Technical University Munich.

In World War I
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...

, he initially served with the infantry and then as front line reconnaissance observer within German Air Forces (DLSK)
Luftstreitkräfte
The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte , known before October 1916 as Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches , or simply Die Fliegertruppen, was the air arm of the Imperial German Army during World War I...

, winning the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

. 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).

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
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

) in the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 (S.A.), which was then commanded by Ernst Röhm
Ernst Röhm
Ernst Julius Röhm, was a German officer in the Bavarian Army and later an early Nazi leader. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung , the Nazi Party militia, and later was its commander...

: 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").

Following the appointment 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...

 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
German Autobahnen
The German autobahns are the nationally coordinated motorway system in Germany. In German, they are officially called Bundesautobahn , which translates as federal expressways...

 (Reichsautobahnen). 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
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 after its official promulgation in March 1935. Todt was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science
German National Prize for Art and Science
The German National Prize for Art and Science was an award created by Adolf Hitler in 1937 as a replacement for the Nobel Prize . The award was designed by Müller-Erfurt and created in the form of a pendant studded with diamonds...

 by Hitler for his work on the autobahnen. This award was a replacement for the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 which Hitler forbade Germans from accepting in 1936.

In 1938, he founded the Organisation Todt
Organisation Todt
The Todt Organisation, was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group in Germany named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure...

(OT), joining together government firms, private companies and the Reichsarbeitsdienst
Reichsarbeitsdienst
The Reichsarbeitsdienst was an institution established by Nazi Germany as an agency to reduce unemployment, similar to the relief programs in other countries. During the Second World War it was an auxiliary formation which provided support for the Wehrmacht.The RAD was formed during July 1934 as...

(Reich Labor Service), for the construction of the "West Wall", later renamed the "Siegfried Line
Siegfried Line
The original Siegfried line was a line of defensive forts and tank defences built by Germany as a section of the Hindenburg Line 1916–1917 in northern France during World War I...

", 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
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 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
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

and from Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, the Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe (Commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

) in particular. He did remain close to Hitler at this time; yet, after an inspection tour of the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

, 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
Ketrzyn
Kętrzyn , is a town in northeastern Poland with 28,351 inhabitants . Situated in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship , Kętrzyn was previously in Olsztyn Voivodeship . It is the capital of Kętrzyn County...

, his aircraft exploded and crashed. He was succeeded as Reichsminister by 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...

, who had narrowly missed being on the same aircraft. He was buried in the Invalid's Cemetery, located in the Scharnhorst-Strasse in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and became the first holder, albeit posthumously, of the Deutscher Orden ("German Order
German Order (decoration)
The German Order was the most important award that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual for "duties of the highest order to the state and party". This award was first made by Adolf Hitler posthumously to Reichsminister Fritz Todt at his funeral in February, 1942...

"). It was even suggested that Todt was the victim of an assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 plot, but this has never been confirmed. Albert Speer mentioned (Inside The Third Reich p279) the Reich Air Ministry enquiry into the plane accident, which he said ended with "The possibility of sabotage is ruled out. Further measures are therefore neither requisite nor intended". Speer thought this wording was "curious".
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
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....

 (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.

In popular culture

Fritz Todt is portrayed in Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson (crime novelist)
Robert Wilson is a British crime-writer currently resident in Portugal. He is the son of an RAF fighter pilot, and has a degree in English from Oxford. Wilson is the author of the Bruce Medway series, set on the Gold Coast of Africa, and the Javier Falcon series, set largely in Seville, Spain...

's novel The Company of Strangers (2001). In this book it is suggested that his death was organized by leading Nazi authorities.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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