Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Todt, Fritz (1891–1942)

German minister for arms and munitions. Born on 4 September 1891 in Pforzheim, Germany, Fritz Todt fought in the German army during World War I and was awarded the Iron Cross. He subsequently studied engineering before joining Sager and Woerner, a company that specialized in building roads and tunnels.

Todt joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) in January 1922 and the Storm Troopers (the Sturmabteilungen, or SA) in October 1931. In 1930, he published a paper entitled Proposals and Financial Plans for the Employment of One Million Men. This report impressed Adolf Hitler, and when he came to power in 1933, Hitler appointed Todt to head technology and roadway construction, as chief of what became known as the Organization Todt (OT). Fritz Todt was involved in every aspect of autobahn construction, from design to aesthetics (to harmonize with the German landscape), and he was a role model in National Socialist labor relations.

With the outbreak of war, the OT provided German troops with a highly skilled corps of engineers, filling Germany's expanding imperium with new roads, bridges, aircraft fields, and fortifications. In 1941, Todt took responsibility for restoring the road and rail system in the Soviet Union. His growing influence in the Nazi Party hierarchy brought him into conflict with Hermann Göring and Martin Bormann.

When Todt was appointed as the Reich's minister for arms and munitions in March 1940 (in addition to his other positions), he controlled all the major technical tasks of the German war effort. Over the next several years, the OT had large numbers of conscript laborers at its disposal. Todt also supervised construction of the Atlantic Wall, intended to repel an anticipated Anglo-American seaborne invasion launched from Britain.

Todt predicted that victory would eventually go to the Soviets. In a meeting with Hitler at Rastenburg in February 1942, alarmed at the attrition of equipment on the Eastern Front, he advised Hitler to end the war with the USSR—counsel that displeased the Führer. Todt died when his plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Rastenburg on the morning of 9 February 1942. Sabotage was suspected but could not be proven. Todt was succeeded by his assistant, Albert Speer.

Peter Overlack


Further Reading
Johst, Hans. Fritz Todt. Munich, Germany: Eher, 1943.; Milward, A. "Fritz Todt als Minister für Bewaffnung und Munition." Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 14, no. 1 (January 1966): 40–58.; Pool, James. Hitler and His Secret Partners: Contributions, Loot and Rewards, 1933–1945. New York: Pocket Books, 1997.; Westwood, J. N. The Eastern Front: The Soviet-German War, 1941–45. New York: Military Press, 1984.
 

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