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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 129

Henschel Hs 129
Henschel Hs 129

Designed by Henschel in response to a requirement in spring 1937 for a twin-engine ground-attack aircraft, to provide close air support for ground forces, that could carry at least two 20mm cannon and extensive protection, the Hs 129 was a cantilever low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction and it first flew in spring 1939 with two 347kW (465hp) Argus As 410 inverted-Vee engines. Poor performance hampered development, which was further hindered when the Luftwaffe pilots who tested the prototypes complained about poor fields of vision and sluggish handling. This forced Henschel to undertake a radical series of improvements that resulted in the Hs 129B-1.

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Artillery

Flakpanzer Wirbelwind

Flakpanzer Wirbelwind
Flakpanzer Wirbelwind

A tactically important weapon that entered service in December 1943 to provide German armoured forces with a high level of air defence against low-flying attack aircraft, the five-man Flakpanzer IV (2cm) mit PzFgst Panzer IV/3 Wirbelwind (whirlwind) was based on the chassis of the PzKpfw IV Ausf J medium tank.

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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

MG 34

MG 34
MG 34

The Maschinengewehr 34 was designed by engineers at the Mauser factory at Obendorff, and major features of this superb machine gun included a quick-change barrel, connection of major components by bayonet catches, high-impact plastic stock, combined recoil booster and flash hider, straight-through design, and a system in which pressure on the upper and lower parts of the trigger produced semi-automatic and automatic fire respectively.

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Tracked Vehicles

StuG III Ausf B

StuG III Ausf B
StuG III Ausf B

The Sturmgeschütz (assault gun) - an armoured self-propelled gun to support infantry assaults - was first requested in 1936. The chassis of the Panzer III was selected for the assault gun, with the first gun being the 75mm StuK37 L/24. In the quest for a low silhouette an all-round traverse was abandoned. Fitted low in the hull front plate, the gun had a 12-degree traverse to the left and right, and an elevation of 10 degrees and a depression of 10 degrees.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Prinz Eugen main armament decorated by crew

Prinz Eugen main armament decorated by crew
Prinz Eugen main armament decorated by crew

Prinz Eugen’s main armament were her eight 20.3cm (eight-inch) guns, arranged in four turrets, two forward and two aft of the bridge. Her secondary armament consisted of 12x10.5cm (4.1 inch) guns, and 20 other anti-aircraft guns. The armoured belt around her hull was 70-80mm thick, while her upper deck was provided with armour 12-30mm thick.

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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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