chapter  2
10 Pages

Motorization and Footpath Planning During the Third Reich

Fest (1974) stressed that Hitler was ideologically a man of the 19th century but he was also regarded by many of his contemporaries as modern and forward looking (p. 757). In terms of transportation, he was particularly interested in pushing forward two developments (apart from aeroplanes): the construction of motorways and the design of a small car. There is no doubt that the promotion of the motorway program was the responsibility of Adolf Hitler himself. However, plans to build motorways had already been developed during the 1920s. Hitler saw representatives of the HAFRABA1 as early as April 1933 after he had announced the building of a motorway network two months earlier (Petsch 1976, p. 142). Already in 1932, HAFRABA had suggested a 5,000-6,000km motorway network. Despite opposition from the Ministry of Transport, German Rail and the Ministry of Defense, Hitler insisted on the HAFRABA plan (Minuth 1983, p. 307). He extended the motorway length slightly to 6,500km (about 4000 miles). The first stretch of motorway was opened between Frankfurt and Darmstadt in May 1935 (Frenz 1986, p. 21). It was Hitler’s plan to build 1,000km of motorways every year, until the planned 6,500km were completed (Minuth 1983, p. 743). 3,000 km of motorway had already been built by the end of 1938 (Huber and Müller 1964, p. 179). However, the problem with German motorways was that hardly any cars used them, as motor vehicle ownership was so low (Table 2.1).