The head designer of the German Autobahn, Fritz Todt, was born on this day in 1891. He would receive a degree in construction engineering from Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe and later obtain a doctorate in 1931 from Technische Hochschule München after authoring a thesis titled “Sources of failure in building state roads from tar and asphalt.” The same year he received his doctorate he was made a senior colonel in the Nazi party, which he had joined almost a decade prior. Two years later Hitler appointed Todt as Inspector General for German Roadways. Todt would then go on to oversee the development and construction of the Autobahn, a series of controlled-access highways that crisscross Germany.
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, but was reportedly upset with Todt’s comments.