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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 112

Heinkel He 112
Heinkel He 112

One of the first requirements issued under the Nazis by the rapidly expanded Reichsluftfahrtministerium was a specification for a monoplane fighter to replace the Arado 68 and Heinkel 51. Designed by a Heinkel team under Walter Günthers (who was also responsible for the He 70), the He 112 was Heinkel’s entry to the competition.

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Artillery

PAK 35/36

PAK 35/36
PAK 35/36

The 3.7cm PaK 35/36 entered service in 1936. More than 15,000 such weapons had been completed in Germany by 1941, and the type was also built under licence by other countries. Experience proved that by the standards of the day the PaK 35/36 was excellent, and the weapon strongly influenced the design of other guns: the American 37mm M3, for example, was a close copy.

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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

FG 42

FG 42
FG 42

The German paratroop arm was an element of the air force, and many of its weapons were therefore different from those of the army. Thus when the army issued its specification for an assault rifle, the air force decided not to adopt the 7.92mm kurz (short) intermediate-power round and therefore contracted with Rheinmetall-Borsig for an assault rifle suitable for airborne use and chambered for the original 7.92mm high-power round.

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Tracked Vehicles

Panzer III Ausf J

Panzer III Ausf J
Panzer III Ausf J

The Panzer III Ausf J was the first variant of the tank to be built to have the armour protection increased to a basic 50mm (1.96in). The armour change required new fittings. In addition, an improved driver’s visor was fitted, plus a new ball-shaped hull machine-gun mount. The upper hull front accommodated newly designed air intakes for brakes and final-drive cooling, while single-piece access hatches in the glacis were fitted in place of the double hatch.

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Free Media

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

Walther Model

Walther Model
Walther Model

Model, born in 1891, fought in the German Army in World War I and won the Iron Cross (both classes), ending the war a lieutenant. During the inter-war years he became a believer in mechanized warfare, and after Hitler came to power in 1933 he made a favourable impression on the Führer and the Nazi hierarchy.

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