and the Third Reich
are common names for Germany
during the period from 1933 to 1945, when its government was controlled by Adolf Hitler
and his National Socialist German Workers' Party
(NSDAP), commonly known as the Nazi Party. On 30 January 1933 Hitler became Chancellor of Germany
. Thereafter, the Nazi Party began to quickly eliminate all political opposition and consolidate their power. Racism, especially antisemitism
, was a main tenet of society in Nazi Germany. The Gestapo
(secret state police) and SS
under Heinrich Himmler
destroyed the dissenting liberal, socialist, and communist political parties, and oversaw the persecution and mass murder of Jews throughout Nazi-occupied territories. The state idolized Hitler as its Führer
("leader"). Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state
where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the state. The Germanic peoples
—also referred to as the Nordic race
—were considered by the Nazis to be the purest representation of Aryanism
, and therefore the master race
Germany made increasingly aggressive demands, threatening war if they were not met. Britain and France responded with appeasement, hoping Hitler would finally be satisfied. Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939, starting World War II in Europe. In alliance with Benito Mussolini's Italy, Germany conquered France and most of Europe by 1940, and threatened its remaining major foe: Great Britain. Concentration camps, established as early as 1933, were used to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime. The number of camps quadrupled between 1939 and 1942 to 300+, as slave-laborers from across Europe, Jews, political prisoners, criminals, homosexuals, gypsies, the mentally ill and others were imprisoned. The system which began as an instrument of political oppression culminated in the mass genocide of Jews and others deemed undesirable in the Holocaust.
Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the tide turned against the Third Reich with the major military defeats of the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk in 1943. The Soviet counter-attacks became the largest land battles in history. Germany was overrun in 1945 by the Soviets from the east and the Allies from the west. After the surrender of Nazi Germany, the victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put the Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials.Template:/box-footer
Albert Speer (1905 - 1981) was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office. As "the Nazi who said sorry", he accepted responsibility at the Nuremberg trials and in his memoirs for crimes of the Nazi regime. His level of involvement in the persecution of the Jews and his level of knowledge of the Holocaust remain matters of dispute.
As Hitler's Minister of Armaments and War Production, Speer was so successful that Germany's war production continued to increase despite massive and devastating Allied bombing. After the war, he was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the Nazi regime, principally for the use of forced labor. He served his full sentence, most of it at Spandau Prison in West Berlin.
The Battle of Moscow refers to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km (370 mi) sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of the USSR and the largest Soviet city. Moscow was one of the primary military and political objectives for Axis forces in their invasion of the Soviet Union.
Initially, the Soviet forces conducted a strategic defence of the Moscow Oblast by constructing three defensive belts, and deploying newly raised reserve armies as well as bringing troops from the Siberian and Far Eastern Military Districts. Subsequently, as the German offensives were halted, a Soviet strategic counter-offensive and smaller-scale offensive operations were executed to force German armies back to the positions around the cities of Oryol, Vyazma and Vitebsk, nearly surrounding three German armies in the process.