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Third Reich Day by Day

The rise of the Third Reich as it happened from its beginnings to the start of World War II in September 1939.

Weapons & Technology

Aircraft

Heinkel He 60

Heinkel He 60
Heinkel He 60

One of the last of the many floatplanes designed by Ernst Heinkel was the He 60, a two-seat biplane powered by a BMW vee engine. This was intended for catapult operations from the decks of the larger German warships, and first flew in 1933 in prototype form. The 492kW (660hp) BMW V1 engine was subsequently replaced in the second He 60B prototype by a 559kW (750hp) version of the same engine, but this offered no significant improvement and was not adopted for subsequent aircraft. The third He 60c prototype had catapult launching equipment and underwent a series of trials that confirmed its suitability for operational use.

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Artillery

Gebirgsgeschütz 36

Gebirgsgeschütz 36
Gebirgsgeschütz 36

It was in 1935 that Rheinmetall-Borsig, working on the basis of a requirement issued by the German Army, embarked on the process of developing a new piece of thoroughly modern light artillery for service with Germany’s mountain infantry formations. The new gun/howitzer was to become the standard gun of the artillery batteries supporting such infantry and was, of course, to be of the pack type so that the entire weapon could be broken down into loads which could each be carried by a draft animal, most typically a mule. The resulting weapon entered service in 1938 as the 7.5cm Gebirgsgeschütz 36, whose unusual features included variable recoil facility and a large muzzle brake of the pepperpot type.

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Ships

Gneisenau

Gneisenau
Gneisenau

The battlecruiser Gneisenau was launched in December 1936 and completed in May 1938. She was upgraded in the following year and made her first Atlantic sortie, with her sister ship, Scharnhorst, in November 1939, sinking the British auxiliary cruiser Rawalpindi. She was damaged by gunfire from the British battlecruiser Renown off Norway on 9 April 1940, but on 8 June she and Scharnhorst sank the British aircraft carrier Glorious and her escorting destroyers Ardent and Acasta. On 20 June 1940 she was torpedoed by the Royal Navy submarine HMS Clyde off Trondheim. In January 1941, again with the Scharnhorst, she made another sortie into the Atlantic, the two sinking 22 merchant ships – a moderately successful action.

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Small Arms

MG 42

MG 42
MG 42

Without doubt one of the most far-sighted and influential machine guns created in World War II, the Maschinengewehr 42 was in terms of its design and manufacturing requirements a truly outstanding weapon that has exercised a long-lasting influence over later general-purpose machine guns.

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Tracked Vehicles

Panzer 38(t)

Panzer 38(t)
Panzer 38(t)

The Czech LT-38 was one of the most successful products of the pre-war Czech armaments industry. Originating as a design in 1933, it was gradually improved so that by 1938 the latest version, the TNHP, was ordered for the Czech Army. Some 150 were ordered for the Czechs, while foreign orders totalled 200.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

MG34 in the snow

MG34 in the snow
MG34 in the snow

German infantry man an MG34 position in the snow of February 1943; the gun is mounted on a stationary tripod mount. A standard infantry support weapon, it was one of the most successful German small arms of the war.

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Commanders

Commanders

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

Hitler’s aim in the East was very clear: acquiring Lebensraum in the East up to the Ural Mountains. These lands were occupied by groups that Hitler and Nazism despised: Bolsheviks, Slavs and Jews. Under the New Order, these peoples would either become slaves under German overlords or would be exterminated. He was to state in 1942: “If we do not complete the conquest of the East utterly and irrevocably, each successive generation will have war on its hands”. For him the war in Russia was a racial conflict, in which the racially superior German Aryan race was locked in a struggle with the “sub-human” Slavs. This made retreat in the face of “inferior” peoples unimaginable, for the Führer could not conceive of the racially inferior Slavs being able to defeat a superior race. As he stated on the eve of Kursk: “Germany needs the conquered territories or she will not exist for long. She will win hegemony over the rest of Europe. Where we are - we stay.”

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