On this day in 1945, when Allied troops penetrated into German territory, Adolf Hitler ordered the destruction of German roads and industrial plants to resist the attackers with a “scorched earth” strategy. This infamous command was titled the “Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree”, but it was informally called the Nero Decree, after the Roman emperor who allegedly burned Rome.
The man who was supposed to carry out the command was the famous Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and War Production. Fortunately for postwar Germany, he was a sober and reasonable man and did not carry out the destruction. If that had been done, the post war Germany would be a completely scorched land, devoid of infrastructure, roads and factories, and it would have been much more difficult to recover.