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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

Blohm und Voss Bv 141

Blohm und Voss Bv 141
Blohm und Voss Bv 141

In 1937 the Luftfahrtministerium (German Air Ministry) issued a requirement for a single-engined three-seat tactical reconnaissance aeroplane, drawing submissions from Focke Wulf in the form of its Fw 189, and Blohm und Voss’s Bv 141 design. Much emphasis was placed on the need for good visibility, and in response the Bv 141 had a highly unusual asymmetric layout with the fully glazed crew nacelle offset to starboard of the centreline and a boom (carrying the engine at its front and a tail unit at its rear) offset to port.

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Artillery

Flak 38/39

Flak 38/39
Flak 38/39

Although the German air force’s 8.8cm anti-aircraft guns were to prove highly capable weapons, both against aircraft and against armoured vehicles, it became clear in the early 1930s that larger-calibre weapons with a higher muzzle velocity would be needed for the engagement of the high-flying aircraft that were becoming feasible. In 1933 Krupp and Rheinmetall were each tasked with the construction of a pair of prototypes for competitive evaluation in 1935. Rheinmetall’s Gerät 38 was selected in 1936 and ordered as the 10.5cm Fliegerabwehrkanone 38.

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Ships

Graf Spee

Graf Spee
Graf Spee

Officially classed as a Panzerschiff (Armoured Ship), but more popularly known as a “pocket battleship”, the Admiral Graf Spee and her two sisters, the Admiral Scheer and Deutschland, were designed as commerce raiders with a large radius of action and complied with the restrictions imposed on Germany by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (which was detested by the Nazi Party). The “pocket battleship” nickname derived from the fact that, although they were too small to be classed as battleships, they were more powerful and faster than most other warships then afloat. Their hulls were electrically welded, and armour protection was sacrificed to produce a higher speed.

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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 35(t)

Panzer 35(t)
Panzer 35(t)

The Panzer 35(t) was a Czech-designed tank in the 10-ton class. As well as being rugged, much thought had gone into ease of operation. Thus, a 12-speed gearbox combined with a a pneumatic-servo-mechanical steering unit to make the tank easy to drive. In addition, the suspension system, consisting of two sets of four-wheel bogie units each side, was very hard wearing.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Belgian Blitzkrieg

Belgian Blitzkrieg
Belgian Blitzkrieg

May 1940. An 88mm gun model Flak 18 and crew pass Wehrmacht motorcycles (a BMW R18 and a DKW NZ350) alongside a British Morris C8. The Germans made use of captured vehicles of all kinds, sometimes for jobs they were not designed to do.

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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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