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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 190

Focke Wulf Fw 190
Focke Wulf Fw 190

This outstanding aircraft was in fact the only new fighter design to enter service with the Luftwaffe during the war. The prototype flew in June 1939 and after an intensive development programme in which both vee and radial engines were trialled, the Fw 190A entered production with a BMW 801 radial engine. The 40 Fw 190A-0 pre-production aircraft were followed by 100 Fw 190A-1 fighters, and the type entered service in the autumn of 1940. Although well known to the Allies prior to the war, the Fw 190 caused a nasty shock when it was first encountered over France in May 1941. It was light, manoeuvrable, fast, powerfully armed and immensely strong.

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Artillery

Kanone 39

Kanone 39
Kanone 39

In the 1930s Krupp responded to a requirement of the Turkish Army with the development of a powerful gun in 150mm calibre. Production got under way in the later stages of the decade, but delivery of the first completed weapons was prevented by the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 (notwithstanding its spectacular victories, the German Army entered the war with a shortage of equipment).

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Ships

Prinz Eugen

Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen

The Prinz Eugen, launched in August 1938, was the third of five heavy cruisers laid down for the Kriegsmarine in the 1930s. On 23 April 1941 she was damaged by a magnetic mine, but was repaired in time to sail for the Atlantic with the battleship Bismarck in May. Prinz Eugen managed to elude the British warships hunting the Bismarck, having been detached to make her own way to the French Atlantic ports, and so escaped Bismarck’s fate, arriving at Brest on 1 June 1941 undamaged. On 12 February 1942 she took part in the famous “Channel Dash” with the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which totally humiliated the Royal Navy.

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Small Arms

Pistole 08

Pistole 08
Pistole 08

Generally known as the “Luger”, the Pistole 08 is amongst the most celebrated pistols ever placed in production. The first Luger pistols for military service were manufactured in 1900 to meet a Swiss order, and the type was also adopted by the German navy during 1904 and then by the German Army in 1908. It was this last order that led to the designation P 08, which became the most important of some 35 or more Luger pistol variants.

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Tracked Vehicles

Panzer II

Panzer II
Panzer II

Designed by the company MAN, the Panzer II fulfilled a light tank requirement for the German Army. The first 25 pre-production machines were built in 1935, the basic design having a rear engine and front drive. During the initial stages the tank underwent a number of minor changes, such as turret modifications and work on the front superstructure. The main production versions were the Ausf B and C models, which had an angled nose, and splash plates on the top and bottom of the mantlet.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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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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