Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge
South African Navy
The South African Navy is the naval warfare branch of the South African National Defence Force. The role of the navy is to prepare for and to conduct naval operations in defence of the South African state, its citizens and interests and to carry out peacetime operations in support of other national objectives. Other tasks include the maintenance and the provision of naval services in support of other state departments and authorities, including search and rescue, protection of maritime resources, diplomatic sea transport support; the South African Navy can trace its official origins back to the SA Naval Service, established on 15 November 1921. Unofficially, the SAN can trace its history further back, to the Natal Naval Volunteers, formed in Durban on 30 April 1885 as well as to the Cape Naval Volunteers, formed in Cape Town in 1905. On 1 July 1913 these two units were amalgamated to form the South African Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. During World War I a total of 164 members of the RNVR served in the Royal Navy and a total of 412 South Africans served in the RNVR during the war, while the naval base at Simon's Town played a strategic role to the Allies.
The first ships acquired by the newly formed navy were HMSAS Protea, HMSAS Sonneblom and HMSAS Immortelle. However the Great Depression meant the government had to cut back and the ships acquired by the Navy were handed back to the Royal Navy; when World War II broke out the South African Naval Service was non-existent, with only three officers and three ratings. In January 1940 a new naval unit, called the Seaward Defence Force, was formed. Rear-Admiral Guy Hallifax CMG, who had retired in South Africa from the Royal Navy, was appointed Director of the Seaward Defence Force; this unit was to be responsible for operating minesweepers and anti-submarine ships, undertaking other duties including inspection and signalling in South African waters. From 1941 a number of SDF antisubmarine trawlers served in the Mediterranean; the Seaward Defence Force and the South African RNVR were consolidated on 1 August 1942 to form the South African Naval Forces. Due to the strong Royal Navy influence on its origins, South African naval forces used Royal Navy ranks.
On 1 May 1946 the SANF was reconstituted as part of the Union Defence Force. It was renamed'South African Navy' on 1 July 1951; the title of HMSAS was changed to SAS in 1952, the Crown in the SAN cap badge was replaced with the Lion of Nassau from the crest of the country's coat of arms in 1959, two years before South Africa became a republic. In 1947, the SANF acquired three additional ships: the Algerine-class minesweepers HMSAS Rosamund, HMSAS Pelorus, the Flower-class corvette HMSAS Rockrose; the SAN's first destroyer, SAS Jan van Riebeeck was transferred to South Africa on 29 March 1950. The SAN's second destroyer, SAS Simon van der Stel, was handed over to the Navy on 23 February 1953. Meanwhile, negotiations were taking place between the British and South African governments on the future of the Royal Navy's base at Simon's Town; the outcome of these talks was that the base was transferred to the Union on 2 April 1957 under the terms of the Simonstown Agreement, that the Navy would purchase four additional frigates, ten coastal minesweepers and five seaward defence boats from Britain.
In 1963 the first of the Type-12 President-class frigates were delivered and in 1970 the Navy received the first of its three Daphné-class submarines from France, the first of which being named SAS Maria van Riebeeck, after Jan van Riebeeck's Walloon wife. Political unrest in Soweto and elsewhere prompted the apartheid government to take sterner measures in an attempt to keep the opposition under control which in turn led to a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa in 1977; as a result of this, two corvettes and two Agosta-class submarines, ordered for the Navy were not delivered. Instead, South Africa covertly ordered the Warrior-class strike craft from Israel, with three being built in Israel and six in South Africa. In 1977 the Chief of the South African Defence Force changed the Navy's focus to that of a coastal navy and as the Border War began to escalate, the Navy's budget was cut dramatically; the Border conflict ended in April 1989 and was followed by cutbacks in all arms of the South African Defence Force and the Navy had to retrench 23% of its personnel, the South African Marines were disbanded and the two Naval Commands were closed, as were the Naval Bases Cape Town and Walvis Bay.
After the first democratic elections in South Africa, the South African Navy once again started showing the flag around the world and began participating in exercises with other navies. In 1997 the South African Navy celebrated 75 years with 15 countries sending ships for the festivities; the need to re-equip the Navy was addressed by what is known as the Arms Deal and the Navy acquired four frigates as well as three submarines. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was located in a bunker at Silvermine. In 2004 this function passed from the Department of Defence to the South African Maritime Safety Authority, an agency of the D
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist, the leader of the National Fascist Party. He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943. Known as Il Duce, Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism. In 1912, Mussolini had been a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party, but was expelled from the PSI for advocating military intervention in World War I, in opposition to the party's stance on neutrality. Mussolini served in the Royal Italian Army during the war until he was wounded and discharged in 1917. Mussolini denounced the PSI, his views now centering on nationalism instead of socialism and founded the fascist movement which came to oppose egalitarianism and class conflict, instead advocating "revolutionary nationalism" transcending class lines. Following the March on Rome in October 1922, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history until the appointment of Matteo Renzi in February 2014. After removing all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labor strikes and his followers consolidated their power through a series of laws that transformed the nation into a one-party dictatorship.
Within five years, Mussolini had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means and aspired to create a totalitarian state. In 1929, Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, ending decades of struggle between the Italian state and the Papacy, recognized the independence of Vatican City. After the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935–1936, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in the Second Italo–Ethiopian War; the invasion was condemned by the Western powers and was answered with economic sanctions against Italy. Relations between Germany and Italy improved due to Hitler's support of the invasion. In 1936, Mussolini surrendered Austria to the German sphere of influence, signed the treaty of cooperation with Germany and proclaimed the creation of a Rome–Berlin Axis. From 1936 through 1939, Mussolini provided huge amounts of military support to Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War; this active intervention further distanced Italy from Britain. Mussolini had sought to delay a major war in Europe, but Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, resulting in declarations of war by France and the UK and the start of World War II.
On 10 June 1940—with the Fall of France imminent—Italy entered the war on the side of Germany, though Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity and resources to carry out a long war with the British Empire. He believed that after the imminent French armistice, Italy could gain territorial concessions from France, he could concentrate his forces on a major offensive in North Africa, where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. However, the British government refused to accept proposals for a peace that would involve accepting Axis victories in Eastern and Western Europe. In October 1940, Mussolini sent Italian forces into Greece; the invasion failed and the following Greek counter-offensive pushed the Italians back to occupied Albania. The Greek debacle and simultaneous defeats against the British in North Africa reduced Italy to dependence on Germany. Beginning in June 1941, Mussolini sent Italian forces to participate in the invasion of the Soviet Union, Italy declared war on the United States in December.
In 1943, Italy suffered one disaster after another: by February the Red Army had destroyed the Italian Army in Russia. As a consequence, early on 25 July, the Grand Council of Fascism passed a motion of no confidence for Mussolini. After the king agreed the armistice with the allies, on 12 September 1943 Mussolini was rescued from captivity in the Gran Sasso raid by German paratroopers and Waffen-SS commandos led by Major Otto-Harald Mors. Adolf Hitler, after meeting with the rescued former dictator put Mussolini in charge of a puppet regime in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic, informally known as the Salò Republic. In late April 1945, in the wake of near total defeat and his mistress Clara Petacci attempted to flee to Switzerland, but both were captured by Italian communist partisans and summarily executed by firing squad on 28 April 1945 near Lake Como, his body was taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station to publicly confirm his demise. Mussolini was born on 29 July 1883 in Dovia di Predappio, a small town in the province of Forlì in Romagna.
During the Fascist era, Predappio was dubbed "Duce's town" and Forlì was called "Duce's city", with pilgrims going to Predappio and Forlì to see the birthplace of Mussolini. Benito Mussolini's father, Alessandro Mussolini, was a blacksmith and a socialist, while his mother, was a devout Catholic schoolteacher. Owing to his father's political leanings, Mussolini was named Benito after liberal Mexican president Benito Juárez, while his middle names Andrea and Amilcare were from Italian socialists Andrea Costa and Amilcare Cipriani. Benito was the eldest of his parents' three children, his siblings Arnaldo and Edvige fol
Prime Minister of South Africa
The Prime Minister of South Africa was the head of government in South Africa between 1910 and 1984. The position of Prime Minister was established in 1910, he was appointed by the head of state—the Governor-General until 1961 and the State President after South Africa became a republic in 1961. In practice, he was the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Assembly; the first Prime Minister was Louis Botha, a former Boer general and war hero during the Second Boer War. He was the country's leading political figure and de facto chief executive, with powers similar to those of his British counterpart; the position of Prime Minister was abolished in 1984, when the State President was given executive powers after a new constitution was adopted—effectively merging the powers of the Prime Minister with those of the State President. The last Prime Minister, P. W. Botha, became the first executive State President after the constitutional reform. In post-Apartheid South Africa, the Inkatha Freedom Party has called for a return to a Westminster-style split executive with a Prime Minister as the actual head of government, as part of its overarching goal of avoiding a single party South African state.
Parties South African Party United Party National Party State President of South Africa President of South Africa Governor-General of South Africa
Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Evacuated from Paris to Vichy in the unoccupied "Free Zone" in the southern part of metropolitan France which included French Algeria, it remained responsible for the civil administration of France as well as the French colonial empire. From 1940 to 1942, while the Vichy regime was the nominal government of all of France except for Alsace-Lorraine, the German and Italian militarily occupied northern and south-eastern France. While Paris remained the de jure capital of France, the government chose to relocate to the town of Vichy, 360 km to the south in the zone libre, which thus became the de facto capital of the French State. Following the Allied landings in French North Africa in November 1942, southern France was militarily occupied by Germany and Italy to protect the Mediterranean coastline. Petain's government remained in Vichy as the nominal government of France, albeit one, obliged by circumstances to collaborate with Germany from November 1942 onwards.
The government at Vichy remained there until late 1944, when it lost its de facto authority due to the Allied invasion of France and the government was compelled to relocate to the Sigmaringen enclave in Germany, where it continued to exist on paper until the end of hostilities in Europe. After being appointed Premier by President Albert Lebrun, Marshal Pétain's cabinet agreed to end the war and signed an Armistice with Germany on 22 June 1940. On 10 July, the French Third Republic was dissolved, Pétain established an authoritarian regime when the National Assembly granted him full powers; the Vichy government reversed many liberal policies and began tight supervision of the economy, calling for "National Regeneration", with central planning a key feature. Labour unions came under tight government control. Conservative Catholics became clerical input in schools resumed. Paris lost its avant-garde status in European culture; the media were controlled and stressed virulent anti-Semitism, after June 1941, anti-Bolshevism.
The French State maintained nominal sovereignty over the whole of French territory, but had effective full sovereignty only in the unoccupied southern zone libre. It had only civil authority in the northern zones under military occupation; the occupation was to be a provisional state of affairs, pending the conclusion of the war, which at the time appeared imminent. The occupation presented certain advantages, such as keeping the French Navy and French colonial empire under French control, avoiding full occupation of the country by Germany, thus maintaining a degree of French independence and neutrality. Despite heavy pressure, the French government at Vichy never joined the Axis alliance, remained formally at war with Germany. Germany kept two million French soldiers prisoner, carrying out forced labour, they were hostages to ensure that Vichy would reduce its military forces and pay a heavy tribute in gold and supplies to Germany. French police were ordered to round up Jews and other "undesirables" such as communists and political refugees.
Much of the French public supported the government, despite its undemocratic nature and its difficult position vis-à-vis the Germans seeing it as necessary to maintain a degree of French autonomy and territorial integrity. In November 1942, the zone libre was occupied by Axis forces, leading to the disbandment of the remaining army and the sinking of France's remaining fleet and ending any semblance of independence, with Germany now supervising all French officials. Most of the overseas French colonies were under Vichy control, but with the Allied invasion of North Africa it lost one colony after another to Charles de Gaulle's Allied-oriented Free France. Public opinion in some quarters turned against the French government and the occupying German forces over time, when it became clear that Germany was losing the war, resistance to them increased. Following the Allied invasion of France in June 1944 and the liberation of France that year, the Free French Provisional government of the French Republic was installed by the Allies as France's government, led by de Gaulle.
Under a "national unanimity" cabinet uniting the many factions of the French Resistance, the GPRF re-established a provisional French Republic, thus restoring continuity with the Third Republic. Most of the legal French government's leaders at Vichy fled or were subject to show trials by the GPRF, a number were executed for "treason" in a series of purges. Thousands of collaborators were summarily executed by local communists and the Resistance in so-called "savage purges"; the last of the French state exiles were captured in the Sigmaringen enclave by de Gaulle's French 1st Armoured Division in April 1945. Pétain, who had voluntarily made his way back to France via Switzerland, was put on trial for treason by the new Provisional government, received a death sentence, but this was commuted to life imprisonment by de Gaulle. Only four senior Vichy officials were tried for crimes against humanity, although many more had participated in the deportation of Jews for internment in Nazi concentration camps, abuses of prisoners, severe acts against members of the Resistance.
In 1940, Marshal Pétain was known as the victor of the battle of Verdun. As the last premier of the Third Republic, being a reactionary by inclination, he blamed the Third Republic's democracy for France's sudden defeat by Germany, he set up a paternalistic, authoritarian regime that collaborated with Ger
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. A common misconception is; this misconception was based on the misbelief that the Cape was the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Contemporary geographic knowledge instead states the southernmost point of Africa is Cape Agulhas about 150 kilometres to the east-southeast; the currents of the two oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold-water Benguela current and turns back on itself. That oceanic meeting point fluctuates between Cape Point; when following the western side of the African coastline from the equator, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus, the first modern rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East. Dias called the cape Cabo das Tormentas, the original name of the "Cape of Good Hope".
As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope has long been of special significance to sailors, many of whom refer to it as "the Cape". It is a waypoint on the Cape Route and the clipper route followed by clipper ships to the Far East and Australia, still followed by several offshore yacht races; the term Cape of Good Hope is used in three other ways: It is a section of the Table Mountain National Park, within which the cape of the same name, as well as Cape Point, falls. Prior to its incorporation into the national park, this section constituted the Cape Point Nature Reserve, it was the name of the early Cape Colony established by the Dutch on the Cape Peninsula. Just before the Union of South Africa was formed, the term referred to the entire region that in 1910 was to become the Cape of Good Hope Province. Eudoxus of Cyzicus was a Greek navigator for Ptolemy VIII, king of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, who found the wreck of a ship in the Indian Ocean that appeared to have come from Gades, rounding the Cape.
When Eudoxus was returning from his second voyage to India, the wind forced him south of the Gulf of Aden and down the coast of Africa for some distance. Somewhere along the coast of East Africa, he found the remains of the ship. Due to its appearance and the story told by the natives, Eudoxus concluded that the ship was from Gades and had sailed anti-clockwise around Africa, passing the Cape and entering the Indian Ocean; this inspired him to attempt a circumnavigation of the continent. Organising the expedition on his own account he set sail from Gades and began to work down the African coast; the difficulties were too great, he was obliged to return to Europe. After this failure he again set out to circumnavigate Africa, his eventual fate is unknown. Although some, such as Pliny, claimed that Eudoxus did achieve his goal, the most probable conclusion is that he perished on the journey. In the 1450 Fra Mauro map, the Indian Ocean is depicted as connected to the Atlantic. Fra Mauro puts the following inscription by the southern tip of Africa, which he names the "Cape of Diab", describing the exploration by a ship from the East around 1420: "Around 1420 a ship, or junk, from India crossed the Sea of India towards the Island of Men and the Island of Women, off Cape Diab, between the Green Islands and the shadows.
It sailed for 40 days in a south-westerly direction without finding anything other than wind and water. According to these people themselves, the ship went some 2,000 miles ahead until - once favourable conditions came to an end - it turned round and sailed back to Cape Diab in 70 days". "The ships called junks that navigate these seas carry four masts or more, some of which can be raised or lowered, have 40 to 60 cabins for the merchants and only one tiller. They can navigate without a compass, because they have an astrologer, who stands on the side and, with an astrolabe in hand, gives orders to the navigator". Fra Mauro explained that he obtained the information from "a trustworthy source", who traveled with the expedition the Venetian explorer Niccolò da Conti who happened to be in Calicut, India at the time the expedition left: "What is more, I have spoken with a person worthy of trust, who says that he sailed in an Indian ship caught in the fury of a tempest for 40 days out in the Sea of India, beyond the Cape of Soffala and the Green Islands towards west-southwest.
Thus one can believe and confirm what is said by both these and those, that they had therefore sailed 4,000 miles". Fra Mauro comments that the account of the expedition, together with the relation by Strabo of the travels of Eudoxus of Cyzicus from Arabia to Gibraltar through the southern Ocean in Antiquity, led him to believe that the Indian Ocean was not a closed sea and that Africa could be circumnavigated by her southern end; this knowledge, together with the map depiction of the African continent encouraged the Portuguese to intensify their effort to round the tip of Africa. I
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process; the official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire; the Nazi regime ended. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, on 30 January 1933; the NSDAP began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934 and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the offices and powers of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany.
All power was centralised in Hitler's person and his word became the highest law. The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen; the return to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity. Racism antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime; the Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the master race, the purest branch of the Aryan race. Discrimination and persecution against Jews and Romani people began in earnest after the seizure of power; the first concentration camps were established in March 1933. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, liberals and communists were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. Christian churches and citizens that opposed Hitler's rule were oppressed, many leaders imprisoned.
Education focused on racial biology, population policy, fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased Germany on the international stage. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, Hitler's hypnotic oratory to influence public opinion; the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. The Nazi regime dominated neighbours through military threats in the years leading up to war. Nazi Germany made aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if these were not met, it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR, invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, launching World War II in Europe. By early 1941, Germany controlled much of Europe. Reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas and a German administration was established in the remainder of Poland.
Germany exploited labour of both its occupied territories and its allies. In the Holocaust, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, or shot. While the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was successful, the Soviet resurgence and entry of the US into the war meant the Wehrmacht lost the initiative on the Eastern Front in 1943 and by late 1944 had been pushed back to the pre-1939 border. Large-scale aerial bombing of Germany escalated in 1944 and the Axis powers were driven back in Eastern and Southern Europe. After the Allied invasion of France, Germany was conquered by the Soviet Union from the east and the other Allies from the west, capitulated in May 1945. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure and additional war-related deaths in the closing months of the war; the victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put many of the surviving Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.
The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945, while common English terms are "Nazi Germany" and "Third Reich". The latter, adopted by Nazi propaganda as Drittes Reich, was first used in Das Dritte Reich, a 1923 book by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck; the book counted the Holy Roman Empire as the German Empire as the second. Germany was known as the Weimar Republic during the years 1919 to 1933, it was a republic with a semi-presidential system. The Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism, contentious relationships with the Allied victors of World War I, a series of failed attempts at coalition government by divided political parties. Severe setbacks to the German economy began after World War I ended because of reparations payments required under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles; the government printed money to make the payments and to repay the country's war debt, but the resulting hyperinflation led to inflated prices for consumer goods, economic chaos, food riots.
When the government defaulted on their reparations payments in January 1923, French troops occupied German industrial areas along the Ruhr and widespread civil unrest followed. The National Socialist German Workers' Party (National