Organisation Todt
Overview
 
The Todt Organisation, (OT) was a 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...

 civil
Civil engineering
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings...

 and military engineer
Military engineer
In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

ing group in Germany
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...

  named after its founder, 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...

, an 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 organization was responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in pre-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...

 Germany, in Germany itself and occupied territories from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 to 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....

 during the war. It became notorious for using forced labour.
Encyclopedia
The Todt Organisation, (OT) was a 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...

 civil
Civil engineering
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings...

 and military engineer
Military engineer
In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

ing group in Germany
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...

  named after its founder, 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...

, an 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 organization was responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in pre-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...

 Germany, in Germany itself and occupied territories from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 to 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....

 during the war. It became notorious for using forced labour. The history of the organisation falls fairly neatly into three phases:
  • A pre-war period from 1933–38 during which Todt's primary office was that of General Inspector of German Roadways (Generalinspektor für das deutsche Straßenwesen) and his primary responsibility the construction of the Autobahn network. The organisation was able to draw on "conscripted" (i.e. compulsory) labour, from within Germany, through the Reich Labour Service (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...

    , RAD).
  • The period from 1938, when the OT proper was founded until February 1942, when Todt died in a plane crash. During this period (1940) Todt was named Minister for Armaments and Munitions (Reichminister für Bewaffnung und Munition) and the projects of the OT became almost exclusively military. The huge increase in the demand for labour created by the various military and paramilitary projects was met by a series of expansions of the laws on compulsory service, which ultimately obligated all Germans to arbitrarily determined (i.e., effectively unlimited) compulsory labour for the state: Zwangsarbeit. From 1938–40, over 1.75 million Germans were conscripted into labour service. From 1940–42, Organization Todt began its reliance on Gastarbeitnehmer (guest workers), Militärinternierte (military internees
    Internment
    Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

    ), Zivilarbeiter (civilian workers
    Zivilarbeiter
    Zivilarbeiter refers primarily to Polish prisoners from the General Government , used during WWII as forced laborers in Germany. Poles were conscripted on the basis of the Polish decrees ....

    ), Ostarbeiter (Eastern workers) and Hilfswillige ("volunteer") POW workers.
  • The period from 1942 until the end of the war, when 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...

     succeeded Todt in office and the OT was absorbed into the (renamed and expanded) Ministry for Armaments and War Production (Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion). Approximately 1.4 million labourers were in the service of the Organisation. Overall, 1% were Germans rejected from military service and 1.5% were concentration camp prisoners; the rest were prisoners of war and compulsory labourers from occupied countries. All were effectively treated as slaves and existed in the complete and arbitrary service of a ruthless totalitarian state. Many did not survive the work or the war.


1933-1938: Autobahn Construction

The Autobahn concept did not originate with the Nazis but had its beginnings in the efforts of a private consortium, the HaFraBa (Verein zur Vorbereitung der Autostraße Hansestädte-Frankfurt-Basel), founded in 1926 for the purpose of building a high-speed highway between Northern Germany and Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, in Switzerland. With a decree establishing a Reichsautobahnen project for an entire network of highways, issued on 27 June 1933, Adolf 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...

 made it a vastly more ambitious public project and that responsibility rested on Fritz Todt's shoulders as the newly-named Inspector General of German Roadways.

By 1934, the self-aggrandizing Todt had succeeded in elevating this office to near cabinet rank. Todt was, however, also an extremely capable administrator and had built by 1938 more than 3000 km (1,864.1 mi) of roadway. The Autobahn project became one of the show pieces of the Nazi
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 regime. Todt had also in that period put together the administrative core of what would properly speaking become the Organisation Todt. The growth and growing importance of the organization, and the increasing prominence of its leader, are a textbook example of the way in which an aggressive and able party leader could expand his authority and purview in the fluid (and treacherous) context of the polycratic
Polycracy
A polycracy is a state ruled by more than one person, as opposed to monocracy. The word is derived from Greek -- poly which means "many" and kratos which means "rule" or "strength". It is also known as polyarchy. Many seemingly autocratic states are merely a facade of polycratic societies...

 German state under Adolf Hitler.

Initially, the Autobahn project relied on the open labour market as a source of workers. Germany was at this time still recovering from the effects 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 there was no shortage of available labour. As the economy recovered and the supply of labour became a more serious issue, the OT was able to draw on conscripted (i.e., compulsory) workers, from within Germany through the Reich Labour Service (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...

, RAD) from 1935. As per the law of 26 June 1935, all male Germans between the ages of 18 and 25 were required to perform six months of state service. In this period the work was compensated, at a rate slightly greater than that of unemployment support. The composition and working conditions of the labour force would change drastically for the worse over the course of the following ten years.

1938-1942: Organisation 'Todt'

The OT was not given an official name until Hitler, in a rather careless manner, did so shortly after coming to power in 1933. In 1938 Todt founded the Organisation Todt proper as a consortium of the administrative offices which Todt had personally set up in the course of the Autobahn project, private companies as subcontractors and the primary source of technical engineering expertise, and the Labour Service as the source of manpower. He was appointed by Hitler as plenipotentiary for Labour within the second four year plan, undermining Göring's rule. Investment in civil engineering work was greatly reduced. Between 1939 and 1943, in contrast to the period from 1933 to 1938, less than 1000 km (621.4 mi) of roadway were added to the Autobahn system. Emphasis was shifted to military efforts, the first major project being the Westwall (known in English as 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...

) built opposite the French Maginot Line
Maginot Line
The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery casemates, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I,...

 and serving a similar purpose. Correspondingly, Todt himself was named Minister of Armaments and Munitions in 1940. In 1941 Todt and his organization were further charged with an even larger project, the construction of an Atlantic wall
Atlantic Wall
The Atlantic Wall was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the western coast of Europe as a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion of the mainland continent from Great Britain.-History:On March 23, 1942 Führer Directive Number 40...

 to be built on the coasts of occupied France, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, and Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. Included with this "Atlantic Wall" project were the fortification of the British Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

, which were occupied by Nazi Germany from 30 June 1940 to 8 May 1945. The only Nazi concentration camps on British soil were operated by the OT in Alderney
Alderney concentration camps
The Alderney concentration camps were prison camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during its World War II occupation of the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands were the only British Commonwealth soil to be occupied by the Nazis....

.

The huge increase in the demand for labour created by the Westwall project was met by a series of expansions of the laws on compulsory service, which ultimately obligated all Germans to arbitrarily determined (i.e. effectively unlimited) compulsory labour for the state: Zwangsarbeit. Between 1938 and 1940, 1.75 million Germans were conscripted into labour service. Both the Organisation Todt and the Labour Service were characteristically paramilitary in hierarchy and appearance, with elaborate sets of chevrons, armbands and epaulettes, and other insignia for the display and recognition of rank.

Fritz Todt died in a plane crash on 8 February 1942, shortly after a meeting with Hitler in East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

. Todt had become convinced that the war could not be won and thought himself indispensable enough to say as much to Hitler. As a result, there has been some speculation that Todt's death was a covert
Covert operation
A covert operation is a military, intelligence or law enforcement operation that is carried clandestinely and, often, outside of official channels. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation...

 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...

, but this has never been substantiated. Todt was succeeded as Minister of Armaments and Munitions and de-facto head of the Organisation Todt 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...

.

1942-1945: the OT under Albert Speer

Despite the death of its namesake, the OT continued to exist as an engineering organization and drew multiple further assignments. At the beginning of 1943, in addition to its continuing work on the Atlantic Wall, the organization also undertook the construction of launch platforms in northern France for the V1
V1
V1 can refer to:* V-1 , a World War II German weapon* V.1, a telephone communications standard of the ITU-T* Area V1 of the visual cortex* Ophthalmic nerve , the first division of the trigeminal nerve...

 flying bomb and V2 rocket. In the summer of that year, following the increasingly defensive course of the German war effort, the organization was further charged with the construction of air-raid shelters and the repair of bombed buildings in cities within Germany and with the construction of underground refineries and armaments factories (Project Riese
Project Riese
File:Project Riese - map.PNG|thumb|right|495px|Project Riese. Click on the locations to see details.rect 81 48 88 55 rect 171 248 178 255 rect 241 219 248 226 rect 235 235 242 242 rect 204 247 211 254 rect 260 241 267 248 rect 234 271 241 278...

).

Administratively, however, the organization was effectively incorporated into Albert Speer's Ministry of Armaments and War Production in 1943. Speer's concerns, in the context of an increasingly desperate Germany in which all production had been severely impacted by materials and manpower shortages and by Allied bombing, ranged over almost the whole of the German war-time economy. Speer managed to increase production significantly, at the cost of a vastly increased reliance on compulsory labour. This applied as well to the labour force of the OT.

By the end of the war, the compulsory state service for Germans had been reduced to six weeks of perfunctory military training and all available conscript German manpower diverted to military units and direct military support organisations. From the beginning of 1942 at the latest, their place was increasingly taken by prisoners of war and compulsory labourers from occupied countries. Foreign nationals and POWs were often, somewhat euphemistically, referred to as "foreign workers" (Fremdarbeiter). In 1943 and 1944 these were further augmented by concentration camp and other prisoners. Beginning in the autumn of 1944, between 10,000 to 20,000 half-Jews (Mischling
Mischling
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...

e) and persons related to Jews by marriage were recruited into special units.

By the end of 1944, of approximately 1.4 million labourers in the service of the Organisation Todt overall, 1% were Germans rejected from military service and 1.5% were concentration camp prisoners; the rest were prisoners of war and compulsory labourers from occupied countries. All were effectively treated as slaves and existed in the complete and arbitrary service of a ruthless totalitarian state. Many did not survive the work or the war.

German (national) and foreign

  • OT-Einsatzgruppe Italien
  • OT-Einsatzgruppe Ost (Kiev
    Kiev
    Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

    )
  • OT-Einsatzgruppe Reich (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...

    )
  • OT-Einsatzgruppe Südost (Belgrade
    Belgrade
    Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

    )
  • OT-Einsatzgruppe West (Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

    )
  • OT-Einsatzgruppe Wiking (Oslo
    Oslo
    Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

    )
  • OT-Einsatzgruppe Russland Nord (Tallinn
    Tallinn
    Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

    )

Intra German

  • Deutschland I ("Tannenberg") (Rastenburg)
  • Deutschland II (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...

    )
  • Deutschland III ("Hansa") (Essen
    Essen
    - Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...

    )
  • Deutschland IV ("Kyffhäuser") (Weimar
    Weimar
    Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

    )
  • Deutschland V (Heidelberg
    Heidelberg
    -Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

    )
  • Deutschland VI (Munich
    Munich
    Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

    )
  • Deutschland VII (Prague
    Prague
    Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

    )
  • Deutschland VIII ("Alpen") (Villach
    Villach
    Villach is the second largest city in the Carinthia state in the southern Austria, at the Drava River and represents an important traffic junction for Austria and the whole Alpe-Adria region. , the population is 58,480.-History:...

    )

Organisation Todt administrative and working ranks

  • Chef der OT
  • OT-Einsatzgruppenleiter I
  • OT-Einsatzgruppenleiter II
  • OT-Einsatzleiter
  • OT-Hauptbauleiter
  • OT-Bauleiter
  • OT-Hauptbauführer
  • OT-Oberbauführer
  • OT-Bauführer
  • OT-Haupttruppführer
  • OT-Obertruppführer
  • OT-Truppführer
  • OT-Oberstfrontführer
  • OT-Oberstabsfrontführer
  • OT-Stabsfrontführer
  • OT-Oberfrontführer
  • OT-Frontführer
  • OT-Obermeister
  • OT-Obermeister
  • OT-Meister
  • OT-Vorarbeiter
  • OT-Stammarbeiter
  • OT-Arbeiter

Insignia

collar patches (used after 1943)

Further reading

  • Robert Gildea
    Robert Gildea
    Robert Nigel Gildea is professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford and is the author of several influential books on 20th century French history. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford, before attending St Antony's for a D.Phil under the supervision of Theodore Zeldin. His D.Phil...

    , (2002), Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation, Picador. ISBN 0-312-42359-4.

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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