Fritz Todt was an SS General who had a great number of responsibilities within the Third Reich both before and during the Second World War. Todt’s main areas of responsibility were:
the expansion of the Autobahn network
construction of the Siegfried Line
Minister of Armaments and Munitions from 1940 until his death in 1942
Conversion of Soviet railways to standard German gauge
The Autobahn network had been begun prior to the Nazi Party gaining power. Todt’s role was to develop it both with the Third Reich and into the occupied territories following the outbreak of war. Todt used an ‘army’ of labourers for this task. The Autobahn’s connected all of the major cities within the Reich and into many of the occupied territories.
Similarly, Organisation Todt expanded the railway network. Again, this involved creation of new lines and conversion of tracks in occupied territories. By December, 1941, some 15000 km of track had been converted in Russia alone, with some 70000 men assigned to the task.
The Siegfried Line was constructed rapidly and was completed before the outbreak of war. This was a large scale network of defensive structures that would limit the ability of the Western Allies to counter attack on Germany’s Western Front.
Todt is significant for a number of reasons. His Organisation Todt, had amassed some 1.25 million workers by the end of 1944. He utilised slave and forced labour for major works across occupied Europe. He had almost unlimited power in relation to the areas he managed, answerable only to Goering and Hitler.
Many of the pre-war works in which Todt was involved helped to rejuvenate the economy and reduce unemployment. His position and organisations under his control were a highly important component of the Four Year Plan.