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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

Gotha Go 242 and 244

Gotha Go 242 and 244
Gotha Go 242 and 244

Well known as a producer of bomber aircraft for the German Air Service during World War I, Gotha re-entered aircraft production in 1936 and after the outbreak of war devoted its attentions to the design and manufacture of military aircraft. The most successful of its wartime designs was the Go 242, a high-wing twin-boom monoplane with a central nacelle that could accommodate 23 fully equipped troops. Introduced into service in 1942, the Go 242 subsequently became the Luftwaffe’s standard transport glider, with deliveries totalling 1526 Go 242A and Go 242B gliders with skid and wheeled landing gear respectively.

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Artillery

Flakvierling 38

Flakvierling 38
Flakvierling 38

The 2cm Flakvierling 38 quadruple 20mm mounting was highly respected by Allied airmen operating at low level. Designed by Mauser for German naval use, the Flakvierling 38 entered production for the army and air force during 1940. The Flakvierling 38 combined four FlaK 38 barrels on an adapted version of the FlaK 38’s carriage, and while the standard sight was the Flakvisier 40 or improved Flakvisier 40A, provision was being made for radar direction by the end of World War II.

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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

Erma

Erma
Erma

The Maschinenpistole Erma (or MPE) was designed in the early 1930s by Heinrich Vollmer for the Erfurter Maschinenfabrik company, hence the weapon’s name.

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Tracked Vehicles

StuG (F1)

StuG (F1)
StuG (F1)

During World War II flamethrower tanks were popular with infantry units for a number of reasons, such as their ability to deal with enemy bunkers and strongpoints (thus saving infantry formations having to get close to such locations, which would have resulted in heavy casualties), and thus demoralise the enemy in general. It was therefore logical that the Germans would convert a number of StuGs, their prime assault gun, to flamethrowers.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Junior officers planning an attack on the Eastern Front in October 1943

Junior officers planning an attack on the Eastern Front in October 1943
Junior officers planning an attack on the Eastern Front in October 1943

Most junior officers were not professional soldiers, and they had little interest in pursuing military careers after the war. They wanted Germany to win the war as quickly as possible so they could return home to their families and jobs. This meant that they largely remained in frontline units, instead of rising to serve as staff officers in higher headquarters.

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Commanders

Commanders

Hans von Seeckt

Hans von Seeckt
Hans von Seeckt

Infantry General Hans von Seeckt (left) was the commander in chief of the German Army from 1920 to 1926. As such he played a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of the interwar German military. Confronted with the reduction of German military capabilities imposed by the draconian Versailles settlement of 1919, Seeckt utilized his experience of mobile warfare on the Eastern Front during World War I to pursue his belief that an aggressive defense conducted by mobile forces could defeat a numerically and materially superior enemy. It was Seeckt, therefore, who initially pushed motorization in the interwar German Army as he sought to inculcate offensive spirit in German troops.

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