Org Todt NCO printed cuff title armband WWII German.
Organisation Todt (OT) was a civil and military engineering organisation in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, named for its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi. The organization was responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in Nazi Germany and in occupied territories from France to the Soviet Union during World War II. It became notorious for using forced labor. From 1943 until 1945 during the late phase of the Third Reich, OT administered all constructions of concentration camps to supply forced labor to industry.
The history of the organisation can be divided into three phases. From 1933 to 1938, before the organization existed, Fritz Todt’s primary office was that of the General Inspector of German Roadways (Generalinspektor für das deutsche Straßenwesen) and his primary responsibility, the construction of the Autobahn network. He was able to draw on “conscripted” (compulsory) labor, from within Germany, through the Reich Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst, RAD).
The second period lasted from 1938, when the Organisation Todt group proper was initiated, until February 1942, when Todt died in an airplane crash. After the invasion of Poland, Todt was named the Minister for Armaments and Munitions during 1940 (Reichminister für Bewaffnung und Munition), and the projects of the OT group became almost exclusively military. The huge increase in the demand for labor created by the various military and paramilitary projects was satisfied by a series of expansions of the laws concerning compulsory service, which ultimately obligated all Germans to arbitrarily determined (effectively unlimited) compulsory labor for the state: Zwangsarbeit. From 1938–40, more than 1.75 million Germans were conscripted into labor service. From 1940–42, Organization Todt began its reliance on Gastarbeitnehmer (guest workers), Militärinternierte (military internees), Zivilarbeiter (civilian workers), Ostarbeiter (Eastern workers), and Hilfswillige (“volunteer”) POW workers.
The third period lasted from 1942 until the end of the war in 1945, when Albert Speer succeeded Todt in office and the OT was absorbed into the renamed and expanded Reich Ministry of Armaments and War Production. Approximately 1.4 million laborers were in the service of the Organisation. Overall, 1% were Germans rejected from military service and 1.5% were concentration camp prisoners; the rest were prisoners of war and forced laborers from occupied countries. All were effectively treated as slaves and existed in the complete and arbitrary service of the totalitarian state. Many did not survive the work or the war.