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German squad leader, Normandy, June 1944. This young NCO has draped himself in his Zeltbahn (shelter-quarter), a multipurpose camouflage item that could be worn like a poncho or used as one side of a four-person tent. [Image: Histoire et Collections.]
Greater German Reich
Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany under the regime of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party (aka NSDAP or the Nazi Party), which established a totalitarian dictatorship that existed from 1933 until 1945. Officially, the state was, as in the preceding Weimar Republic era, still called the Deutsches Reich (German Reich). In 1943, Großdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich) became the official name.
The state was a major European power from the 1930s through the mid-1940s. Its historical significance lies mainly in its responsibility for starting World War II, and its commission of large-scale crimes against humanity. The state came to an end in 1945, after the Allied Powers succeeded in seizing German-occupied territories in Europe and in occupying Germany itself.
In 1935, Germany was bounded on the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east by Lithuania, The Free City of Danzig, Poland and Czechoslovakia; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Saarland, which joined in 1935. These borders changed after the state annexed Austria, the Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia and Memel, and after subsequent expansion during World War II.