Dear Cecil: Adolf Hitler spoke of the empire he was trying to build as the Third Reich. What were Reichs One and Two? Wilberforce, Blue Mounds, Wisconsin
According to a fascinating tome called The Hitler Fact Book by Thomas Fuchs (like I say, I get the most amazing stuff in the mail), “the first Reich was the Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages; the second, the one established by Bismarck and ended by Germany’s defeat in 1918.” The term was a favorite of Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. Hitler himself wasn’t that crazy about it, Fuchs notes; he outlawed the term at the beginning of World War II and referred to his realm merely as the Reich.
Another Nazi term, “Thousand Year Reich,” supposedly had its origin in a remark by Hitler following the purge of June 1934, when he had many of his onetime supporters murdered. Hitler said the victims had been plotting a revolt, and promised there would be no more such strife for a thousand years.
Send questions to Cecil via firstname.lastname@example.org.