Background: The Autobahn system was one of Hitler’s major accomplishment claims. Here, Fritz Todt, the director of the project, discusses what has happened since Hitler took power. Keeping with the theme of the rally, he also compares German road construction with that in the Soviet Union.
The source: Der Parteitag der Ehre vom 8. bis 14. September 1936. Offizieller Bericht über den Verlauf des Reichsparteitages mit sämtlichen Kongreßreden (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1936). pp. 268-271.
German Road Construction
This is the third time that I have been reported on the construction of our Führer’s roads to the party congress.
Two years ago I announced the beginning of work on these roads throughout the Reich.
A year ago I reported on the efforts of 250,000 German workers, who after long years of unemployment had found work in building Adolf Hitler’s roads.
Today, just three years after the work began, I announce the completion of the first 1000 kilometers of Adolf Hitler’s roads.
“Give me four years,” the Führer asked the German people at the beginning of 1933. None of the great tasks that the Führer’s will set in motion has been neglected. After three years, unemployment has practically disappeared. The military has been restored in the third year. And I can announce that German highway construction has also become a reality.
About 600 kilometers of the Reich Autobahn have been finished by German workers and engineers and opened to traffic. German motorists have welcomed the new roads. Over 14,000 vehicles use the section from Munich to Rosenheim each Sunday in the direction of Berchtesgaden. 6,000 to 10,000 use the other completed sections near Frankfurt, Cologne, Leipzig, Hanover, Stettin, Breslau, etc.
The completed sections of the Reich Autobahn have already become the most heavily used roads in the world.
The capacity of the new roads is best demonstrated by traffic statistics. 1800 vehicles, one vehicle every two seconds, smoothly travel the most heavily trafficked sections each Sunday during a two hour period.
While the number of vehicles from both home and abroad rises steadily, the labor of 250,000 workers is adding yet further kilometers to the system. This past summer, ten new kilometers were completed each day. The major accomplishments to date are:
The German workers have been supported by a fleet of 50,000 trucks, 2300 locomotives, 3,000 kilometers of track, and 1000 concrete machines.
Not only enthusiastic German drivers, but the entire world admire, this great work of German labor.
Numerous foreign guests attending the Olympics noted our road construction.
Only one country and one system is unable to recognize our accomplishments: Russia. They make the lying claim that our road construction program is only on paper. That gives us the right to take a brief look at road construction in the Soviet paradise. What is its plan, its accomplishments?
Control of Russia’s highways rests not as before with the experts, but with the police. That is justified, since highway construction in Russia uses forced labor exclusively. There is no free labor, or free companies. Highway labor is compulsory not only for prisoners, but also for the rural population. Each man from 18 to 45 and each woman from 18 to 40 must give a certain amount of time each year without pay for highway construction. More prosperous farmers and their families must give double the standard amount of labor. The newspapers at present are reporting that a major military highway is to be built connecting Moscow and Minsk. 30,000 political prisoners are to do the work.
Despite the massive scale of forced labor used to build Russian roads, the actual accomplishments are limited. It gives a miserable impression of the actual results of repeated five-year plans.
The enormous nation of Russia today has just 60,000 kilometers of paved roads, just 12 meters per square kilometer. Germany and other European nations in contrast have on average 40 times as much paved road per square kilometer as Russia. The limited amount of paved roads testifies to the low level of automotive culture in this large, yet barren and uncultured nation.
Russia does not need more roads, since the huge country had barely 320,000 vehicles today. Russia’s entire supply of motorized vehicles is no greater than the number of new vehicles in Germany over the past year and a half.
The miserable situation is clear from the goals of the second five-year plan.
The amount of paved highways is to increase from 60,000 to 80,000 kilometers, that is from 12 to 16 meters per square kilometer.
The second five-year plan also proposes to establish 55 large and 172 smaller repair shops and 1000 filling stations in the huge country. We have nothing with which to compare the wretchedness of this program and its goals.
We do not live in the Soviet paradise, but rather in National Socialist Germany, in the Reich of Adolf Hitler. We work with free workers to carry out the Führer’s tasks.
On 23 September, less than 900 days from the beginning efforts, the first 1000 kilometers of Adolf Hitler’s roads will be finished. They are roads unequaled anywhere else in the world in their technical excellence and beauty. Is this a work of technology? No! Like so much else, it is the work of Adolf Hitler!
Go to the book from which this speech comes.
Go to the 1933-1945 Page.
Go to the German Propaganda Archive Home Page.