MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History


On February 11, 1933, Adolf Hitler strode into Berlin’s vast “Hall of Honor” to open the city’s International Motor Show. As he stood on a high, well-lit podium, dressed in a black suit, silence fell over the crowd inside.

Hitler had become Germany’s chancellor only 12 days earlier. The Nazi Party had celebrated with a nighttime parade through the capital that André François-Poncet, the French ambassador, described as follows: “In massive columns, they emerged from the depths of the Tiergarten and passed under the triumphal arch of the Brandenburg Gate. The torches they brandished formed a river of fire.” The jackbooted brownshirts marched past the French embassy and then down Wilhelmstrasse, raising their voices as they passed by the winged palace of the Reichspräsident.

In 1933 Hitler declared his his intention to dominate international motorsport.

Hitler moved swiftly to secure his rule. He called for new Reichstag elections, purged state offices of political opponents, arrested thousands, green-lighted attacks on Jews, commandeered radio stations, and recruited business leaders to bankroll his campaign. Feeding off the drummed-up fear of communist violence, he prepared to suspend a host of liberties guaranteed under the Weimar Constitution, including freedom

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