Last time we talked about Why The Axis Powers Were Called The ‘Axis Powers’?. As it turns out though, the more you dig into World War II, the more questions pop up. Like Nazi Germany’s nickname, the Third Reich.
I mean, we all know that Adolf Hitler’s Germany is called the Third Reich, but have you ever wondered what was the First and Second Reich?
Let’s find out. (the article continues after the ad)
First of all, let’s clarify what Reich means. If we were to translate the German word Reich to English, perhaps the best translation would be “empire” or “realm”. So, which were the first two Empires, that the Third Reich hoped to continue their legacy?
The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (Heiliges Römisches Reich deutscher Nation) which should not be mistaken with ancient Roman Empire. On Christmas day, 800 A.D., Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III of a territory that covered much of central and western Europe. The strength and politics of this Empire, would continue to rise for more than a thousand years until its abolishment in 1806 by Emperor Francis II.
The dissolution of this Holy Roman Empire led to German nationalism and continuous attempts to acquire and unify the numerous German territories. The Second Reich was the Hohenzollern Germany, and it was the period after the unification of Germany following the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). This period ended with the German defeat in the First World War and the abdication of Wilhelm II in 1919.
After that, we had the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), but that was not seen as the Third Reich, but rather as an Interim Reich. The term Third Reich was taken by Arthur Möller van den Bruck’s 1923 book “Das dritte Reich”, a book that heavily influenced the Nazi Party and formulated the idea of national empowerment.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Why The Axis Powers Were Called The ‘Axis Powers’?
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Sources: The First & Second Reich | The Other Reichs: The First and Second Before Hitler’s Third Reich