Politicization of the construction industry (1933-1945)
Construction of the "Westwall" defenses
From 1938 onwards HOCHTIEF worked on the "Westwall" line of defenses under the
direction of the Nazi labor organization, the head of which, Fritz Todt (1891-1942), had been
instructed in 1938 by Hitler's Air Force chief, Hermann G�ring, to carry out all the
construction work of relevance to war. The Todt Organization thus took charge of virtually
all construction projects. Everything was regarded as "relevant to war", not only the
obviously military buildings and the Westwall defenses, but also industrial buildings and
traffic routes. Civilian building activity steadily declined.
Traffic routes and buildings for the F�hrer
Once Germany had defeated France in 1940, work started on the "Atlantic Wall", and
HOCHTIEF was involved in this as well, and in "Operation Viking", which started in
Norway in October 1941. HOCHTIEF also operated outside Germany, in countries that
Germany had occupied and others as well: Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary,
Austria and even Iran. These projects mainly involved traffic routes and sometimes
industrial buildings, but HOCHTIEF also worked on "buildings for the F�hrer" such as
his mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps, called the Berghof, his "Wolf's lair" command
headquarters in Rastenburg (then in East Prussia, now Poland), and the notorious
F�hrerbunker in Berlin.
Increasing use of forced labor
From 1939/1940 onwards HOCHTIEF employed forced laborers on its
construction sites. Little is known about these projects or the men who
were forced to work on them because many documents have been lost or
Another difficulty is that many of the construction projects were carried out by
consortia, so it is not possible to make any reliable statement about the forced
laborers whom HOCHTIEF deployed there. The information that is available can be
seen in the Corporation Chronicle, which appeared in October 2000.
Employees flee from enemy troops
Towards the end of the war construction work came to an almost complete halt.
The employees on the construction sites in Eastern Europe fled for their lives
as the Soviet troops advanced, and in March 1945 the HOCHTIEF head office
was badly damaged in a dead hit from a bomb.