HITLER’S ENGINEERS – Fritz Todt and Albert Speer, Master Builders of the Third Reich by Blaine Taylor. Casemate Publishers, Havertown, PA; casematepublishing.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. 2010. 272 pages. $39.95 hardcover, 8-1/2″ x 11″, ISBN 978-1-932033-68-7. photographs, bibliography, notes.
Todt is not so well known as Speer. Speer took his position after Todt died in a plane crash in 1942. With the exact cause of the crash unknown, sabotage was suspected; though never proven. While he was alive, Todt was Hitler’s preferred chief engineer, and a member of his inner circle. In this position, Todt was responsible for the German autobahn, the Siegfried defensive line in western Germany, and German war material production. He was named Minister of Armaments and Munitions in 1940.
Holding this position until Germany’s defeat, Speer was captured, held in Spandau Prison with other high German officials, and tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg and given a 20-year prison sentence. In captivity and after release, he wrote several bestselling books which kept him in the public eye before he died in 1981. Speer was known for his construction of German underground armament factories allowing Germany to prolong the war despite Allied bombardments and involvement in the German rockets whose development was cut off in its early stages by the Allied victory.
Both Todt and Speer were also architects of monumental projects meant to glorify the Third Reich and German infrastructure such as roads and public facilities. Taylor’s focus is on their works as fundamental, invaluable parts of Nazi Germany enabling it to successively engage in warfare during the first part of the Nazi regime and then–what is even more interesting under Speer–continue to wage war against far superior Allied and Russian armies after devastating defeats.
Detailed biographies and studies focusing only on production plans and engineering and architectural feats can be found elsewhere. This book by an author with a military background is a heavily-illustrated popular work engagingly balancing biography, major Nazi engineering, architectural, and industrial projects, a profile of Hitler’s leadership regarding such projects, and the complexities and rivalries of the Nazi hierarchy closest to Hitler which Todt and Speer had to content with to achieve and hold their high positions.