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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

Heinkel He 111

Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111

The Heinkel He 111 was the natural twin-engined outgrowth of the Heinkel 70 bomber used to such great effect in Spain. Although revealed to the world as a civil airliner, it was designed for bombing. Powered by twin BMW VI engines, it could carry 1000kg (2205lb) of bombs stowed nose-up in eight cells in the centre section. In 1937 some similar machines flew secret reconnaissance missions over Britain, France and the Soviet Union in the guise of airliners, and in the same year the He 111B-1 entered service with the Luftwaffe. In February 1937 operations began with the Condor Legion in Spain, where its seeming invincibility led many to become complacent.

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Artillery

LE FH 18

LE FH 18
LE FH 18

The 10.5cm le FH 18 was designed and developed by Rheinmetall from 1928 and entered service in 1935 as what became the standard medium field howitzer of the German Army up to 1945. The le FH 18 was a completely orthodox but capable and reliable weapon given a somewhat obsolescent look as a result of its large wheels. The type was latter adapted as the le FH 18.M with a muzzle brake to reduce the recoil forces, and could fire a wide variety of shells including high explosive, smoke, tracer, hollow-charge and incendiary.

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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 P38

Walther P38
Walther P38

The Pistole 38, another semi-automatic weapon from the Walther stable, entered service with the German armed forces in 1938 as successor to the P 08. It embodied a double-action trigger mechanism developed from the earlier Models PP and PPK, and also featured the signal pin which extended beside the hammer when there was a round in the chamber.

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Tracked Vehicles

PzKpwf M15/42

PzKpwf M15/42
PzKpwf M15/42

When the Italian Army received an updated model of its medium tank, designated M15/42, the German Army reaped the rewards. The Italians quit the Axis in September 1943 (only 82 had been delivered to the Italian Army before this date), and the German Army took control of 92 of the new tanks. Overall they still had many of the faults typical of Italian armoured fighting vehicles, but they did give the Germans some sorely needed fighting vehicles in the Italian theatre.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Lafette tripod-mounted MG34

Lafette tripod-mounted MG34
Lafette tripod-mounted MG34

Waffen-SS troops with a lafette tripod-mounted MG34 fighting in Russia during Operation Barbarossa. The gunners mate has a standard K98 rifle as back-up weapon. The legs of the lafette could be extended to allow the gun to be used in the anti-aircraft role, and when lowered, it could be placed to allow the gun to be fired “remotely” while it swept an arc in front of the mounting. This extended the effective range of the MG 34 to 3,500 metres. The gunners may have only just set up the tripod, for the gun appears to have its front bipod still attached.

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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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