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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

Focke Wulf Fw 189

Focke Wulf Fw 189
Focke Wulf Fw 189

Despite its unusual appearance, which brought more than a few words of scepticism from conservative Luftwaffe pilots, the Fw 189 Uhu (Owl) was extremely effective in its intended role of army cooperation and short-range reconnaissance. It was only one of two such aircraft produced for the Luftwaffe – somewhat strangely considering it was designed primarily as a tactical air force for the support of the army. The prototype first flew in July 1938 – none of the subsequent prototype aircraft were alike – yet it was unknown by the Allies until it was disclosed in 1941 as the “Flying Eye” of German armies.

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Artillery

Jagdpanzer IV

Jagdpanzer IV
Jagdpanzer IV

Introduced late in 1943, the Jagdpanzer IV was based on the PzKpfw IV medium tank with the turret removed and the upper hull revised into a fixed superstructure, including 60mm (2.47in) upper and lower frontal plates sloped at 45° and 57° respectively, above the all-welded original hull. The sloping sides of the superstructure extended beyond the vertical hull sides over the tracks to provide additional volume for ammunition stowage (a maximum of 79 rounds). Armour skirts of 5mm (0.2in) thickness were bolted to brackets welded to the vehicle’s sides.

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Ships

Lützow

Lützow
Lützow

Originally named Deutschland, the Lützow was one of three armoured ships – the so-called “pocket battleships” – laid down between 1928 and 1931. Deutschland was the first of the class, being launched in May 1931 and completed in April 1933. She was originally used as a seagoing training ship, to familiarize crews with her new technology.

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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

Nashorn

Nashorn
Nashorn

The Nashorn (Rhinoceros), later called Hornisse (Hornet), was designed to accommodate the 88mm Pak 43/1 L/71 gun - the most powerful tank armament produced by the Germans in World War II, and the most effective anti-armour gun built by either side. With a muzzle velocity of 1018m/sec (3340ft/sec), it could destroy any Allied tank in service up to the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich in his uniform as SS-Gruppenfuhrer. Heydrich was a key member of the Nazi regime, who was central in pre-war attacks on Jews, such as Kristallnacht of 1938; he organised the Einsatzgruppen that followed the army during Operation Barbarossa in 1941 and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews; and he chaired the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 that set in motion plans for the “Final Solution”, the murder of all Jews within Nazi-controlled Europe. Strangely, there were always rumours that Heydrich had Jewish ancestry, rumours he strove to quell.

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Commanders

Commanders

Josef Goebbels

Josef Goebbels
Josef Goebbels

It is a little-known fact that the Minister of Propaganda was opposed to a European war. He realized that Germany would be taking unnecessary risks and that her position of power would be weakened. Despite the victories of 1940 Goebbels said: “We must not fool ourselves. It will be a long and difficult war. Its outcome will not depend on boisterous victory parties but on a determination to do one’s daily duty.” He was probably the only Nazi leader to correctly judge the length and gravity of the war.

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