Why Was the Nazi Government Called the Third Reich?

The Nazi regime was referred to as the “Third Reich,” which the Nazis perceived as the third glorious age of Germany, following Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire, known as the “First Reich” and Otto von Bismarck’s Hohenzollern Dynasty or the “Second Reich.” Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was construed as the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth. The word “Reich” means “kingdom,” and it has Christian connotations; the Nazi government itself was steeped in religious imagery and symbolism.

The term “Third Reich” was first used in 1922 by the German Arthur Moeller van den Bruck in his book, “Das Dritte Reich.” The author proposed that a strong and compelling leader, called the “Fuhrer,” would unify Germany into an anti-communist realm. His prediction was realized when Hitler took the helm and ruled Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.