| |

Deutsches Technikmuseum - July

Site Navigation Menus

website overview

The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:


The donation contains six locations:

Exhibit of the Month July 2012

Photo: The spade carries the label: Under the government of Adolf Hitler the breaking ground for the Autobahn network.

The spade of he groundbreaking ceremony for the Autobahn© SDTB / C. Kirchner

Autobahn Construction under the Swastika -
The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Autobahn, 1933

Hitler and the Autobahn: This connection is still present in the minds of many people. In fact, highway construction was one of the main propaganda topics of the Nazi dictatorship. While the Nazis planned their barbaric war of extermination, they were at the same time cultivating the image of progressiveness with the construction of the Autobahn.

The Autobahn project began on 23 September 1933 with the first groundbreaking by Chancellor Hitler for the segment Frankfurt–Darmstadt. The ceremony for this "cutting the first sod" was staged with great effort. The entrepreneur Willy Hof, an early advocate of the highway idea in Germany, was also invited, but was not allowed to make any further appearances. Any mention of his idea to build a car-only road from the sea to the Alps had to be omitted. Rather, the Nazi propaganda glorified the Autobahn as "Roads of the Führer".

The exhibited spade was presented as a gift of honour to Willy Hof on 23 September 1933 at the first groundbreaking ceremony. Fritz Todt, the General Inspector of German Road Engineering also received one. His spade is considered lost.

Willy Hof and the "HAFRABA" Association
The history of the German Autobahn actually began with Willy Hof, the General Director of the German Trading Company in Frankfurt (Main). He was one of the founders in 1926 of the "HAFRABA" Association. The name was derived from the planned route of a highway from Hamburg via Frankfurt (Main) to Basel.

In April 1933, Willy Hof visited Hitler twice and presented the plans of the car-only road from the sea to the Alps. The Chancellor and his advisors were aware of the high quality of the work. In fact, quite a few National Socialists outwardly rejected the HAFRABA plans on ideological grounds, because HAFRABA had a number of Jewish members, and one saw in the highway plans "great capitalistic and Jewish economic interests". The basis for the Autobahn network, however, actually emerged from the HAFRABA plans.

Endowment: Ada Vöge (Berlin) und Willy Hof (Hanau)
Inv.-Nr. 1/2012/067