September 4, 1891 – Fritz Todt, Autobahn engineer, is born

The head designer of the German Autobahn, Fritz Todt, is born on this day in 1891. Born to a father who owned a small factory, he would go on to study engineering, receiving a degree in construction engineering from Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe and later receive his doctorate from Technische Hochschule München after writing his thesis titled “Sources of failure in building state roads from tar and asphalt” (translated from German). He would join the Nazi party in January 1922, becoming an early member. In 1931 he obtained the rank of senior colonel, the same year he completed his doctorate. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933 and the following July Hitler appointed Todt as Generalinspektor für das deutsche Straßenwesen (Inspector General for German Roadways). He was immediately involved with Reichsautobahnen, the construction company responsible for building German’s new roadways, best known as the Autobahn. While many people believe the Autobahn is a single road, it is actually a large network or controlled-access highways all over Germany which have no speed limit for certain classes of vehicles. Todt was killed in 1942 after his plane crashed shortly after takeoff. It has been suggested this was an assassination as Todt had recently complained to Hitler about the the lack of quality equipment on the Eastern front in the war with the USSR. He told Hitler the war should be ended with the USSR unless better equipment and infrastructure could be obtained. Hitler, ignored this suggestion and continued the battle. PhotosFritz Todt By Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1969-146-01 / Röhn / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,Map of the German Autobahn in September 2014

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