The Autobahn network began in the latter years of the Weimar Republic. It was the first major ‘motorway’ building programme of it’s kind.
The Autobahn network was designed to stimulate economic growth; improve communications between industrial centres; provide much needed employment to Germans during the Depression and would enable mobility to be vastly improved.
The concept of an Autobahn network was first mooted in the mid 1920’s when a car only cross country route was proposed. Though sections of this route were built, construction was slow and hampered by economic constraints faced by the Weimar Republic.
The first Autobahn was completed in 1932 and linked Cologne and Bonn. Upon gaining power, Hitler appointed Fritz Todt as overseer of the Autobahn project. Under Todt some 130,000 workers were directly involved in building the Autobahn network and a further 250,000 (approximate figure) worked in industries that supplied the construction teams.
HITLER OPENS NEW ROAD
Construction of the Autobahn network was rapid. By the end of 1939 some 3300 kilometres had been opened. Construction continued in the early phases of the war, with a further 400km being added by the end of 1940.