Der Frontarbeiter OT

In their work of re-arming Germany, the professionals of the Wehrmacht had numerous helpers. Among the organizations definitely welcome to the officers was that of Fritz Todt, commonly known as OT. Fritz Todt was born in 1891, studied engineering and serve in the First World War with the artillery and the air force. Afterwards, he worked with a large Munich highway-construction firm of which he became manager and part owner in 1928. He joined the Nazi party in 1923 and the SA in 1931, reaching eventually the rank of the Supreme SA leader. Being an “old fighter” in party battles made Todt the expert who could be trusted politically. In 1933 Fritz Todt undertook his first large scale enterprise: the building of Reich express highways ( Unternehmen Reichsautobahnen ). This system of roads consisted of two North-South lines, connecting Hamburg – Hanover – Frankfurt-am-Main – Karlsruhe and Sttetin – Berlin – Leipzig – Munich and two East-West lines connecting the Ruhr – Hanover – Berlin – Frankfurt-an-der-Oder and Karlsruhe – Sttutgart – Munich – Reichienall. The principal engineering experiences gained on this construction work were in the field of mass employment of labor and the mass handling of material. These experiences and performances qualified Todt in the eyes of the Fuhrer for larger and more urgent work of finishing the construction of the Westwall. For the purposes of this work the Organization Todt was then set up.

The work on the Westwall was completed n December 1939. With the coming of War, Todt’s activities took on a more exclusively military character. Under the direction of Todt, far-reaching reorganization in the German was industries were undertaken, but not all of them were in their final shape when Todt was killed in an airplane accident early in 1942. He was replaced by Albert Speer.

The OT followed the Wehrmacht “frontward” into the several conquered countries. In Russia, the emphasis of the work of the OT was on road building. Moreover, in order to keep highways and railroad tracks clearer during the winter of 1942-43 than they were in the preceding winter special snow-removing machinery was developed. OT was also heavily involved in bridge construction and repair.

In the west of conquered Europe the greatest single task for the OT has been the ” Second Westwall “.Its purpose was to forestall invasion of the continent from the sea. On the African front long distances and high temperatures presented new challenges for the OT. In this theater of war the ” Transport Standard ” was used as part of the DAK supply system. Additionally, a whole repair system was developed to support the Africa Corp in repairing damaged fighting vehicles. Organization Todt possessed its own fleet of ships which were actively used in different regions of the war arena. As war progressed the OT manpower was used more and more to repair air raid damage. Within the Old Reich, OT group has been employed in transferring German industries to the east under the Four Year Plan Office. Working conditions within the OT were hard enough, with a twelve hour day including only three short intermissions of altogether seventy minutes, and a seven day week. Release was hard to obtain. Uniforms were worn within the OT by Germans only. They consisted of a rough khaki-colored cloth tunic open at the throat, a red brassard with a swastika in a white circle on the left sleeve, and a narrow band on which the words ” ORG. TODT ” were inscribed in white Gothic lettering about 3 inches above the left cuff.