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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

Henschel Hs 126

A development of the earlier Hs 122 trainer and light reconnaissance aircraft of 1934, the Hs 126 provided the Germans with the bulk of their battlefield reconnaissance capability in World War II. It gained a new wing, cantilever main landing gear and a canopy over the pilot’s cockpit, which were fitted to an Hs 122 airframe to produce the Junkers Jumo 210-powered prototype that first flew in autumn 1936. This was followed by two development aircraft powered by a Bramo Fafnir 323A-1 and 10 Hs 126A-0 pre-production, some of which were evaluated by German forces fighting alongside the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.

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Artillery

Kanone 44

Kanone 44
Kanone 44

When they invaded the USSR in June 1941, the Germans made rapid and very extensive gains against Soviet forces that were poorly trained, badly led and often equipped with obsolescent if not obsolete weapons. One exception, though, was Soviet medium artillery which, as the Germans rapidly found, was technically excellent in many respects.

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Ships

Blücher

Blücher
Blücher

Launched in June 1937, the heavy cruiser Blücher was one of five vessels in her class, the others being the Lützow, Seydlitz, Prinz Eugen and Admiral Hipper. On 9 April 1940, flying the flag of Admiral Oskar Kummetz, she took part in the German invasion of Norway, leading a group of warships carrying 2000 troops and bound for the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

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Small Arms

Walther PP

Walther PP
Walther PP

A semi-automatic pistol that was first delivered in 1929, the Walther Model PP had been designed for police use as indicated by its full designation, Polizei Pistole (police pistol). The pistol used the Walther double-action trigger mechanism that was also used on the later P 38, and other features included a lightweight receiver and, next to the hammer, a signal button that protruded when the weapon was loaded. In overall terms the design was light and slim.

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Tracked Vehicles

Jagdpanther

Jagdpanther
Jagdpanther

An order to develop a heavy assault gun by mating the 88mm Pak L/71 gun to a Panther chassis was given on 2 October 1942, and a wooden mock-up was completed by October 1943. Hitler saw the prototype on 16 December 1943, and production began in January 1944.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

The Cathedral of Ss Cyril and Methodius, Prague

The Cathedral of Ss Cyril and Methodius, Prague
The Cathedral of Ss Cyril and Methodius, Prague

The Cathedral of Ss Cyril and Methodius in Prague, where Josef Gabcik and Jan Kubis eventually hid out after the assassination together with five other members of the underground. They were betrayed and either killed or committed suicide when the Waffen SS surrounded the church on 18 June. The Orthodox Bishop of Prague wrote to the Nazi authorities taking responsibility for letting the assassins use the church in order to protect Orthodox inhabitants of Prague. He was tortured and finally shot in September 1942.

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Commanders

Commanders

Hans von Seeckt

Hans von Seeckt
Hans von Seeckt

Infantry General Hans von Seeckt (left) was the commander in chief of the German Army from 1920 to 1926. As such he played a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of the interwar German military. Confronted with the reduction of German military capabilities imposed by the draconian Versailles settlement of 1919, Seeckt utilized his experience of mobile warfare on the Eastern Front during World War I to pursue his belief that an aggressive defense conducted by mobile forces could defeat a numerically and materially superior enemy. It was Seeckt, therefore, who initially pushed motorization in the interwar German Army as he sought to inculcate offensive spirit in German troops.

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