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German History in Documents and Images
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Flag Ceremony and Swearing-In of Recruits in Berlin (November 7, 1935)
This photograph shows recruits in the Potsdam garrison of the Wehrmacht at their swearing-in ceremony on November 7, 1935, in Berlin’s Lustgarten. At the left, Minister of War Werner von Blomberg can be seen inspecting the troops. This same day also witnessed the introduction of the new Reich war flag, yet another symbol of National Socialism’s ubiquitous and all-encompassing power. On March 16, 1935, Hitler had reintroduced mandatory military service in the German Reich through the enactment of a conscription law. The army was increased from 100,000 to 555,000 soldiers, and its name was changed from “Reichswehr” to “Wehrmacht.” The Reich Navy was henceforth to be called War Navy [Kriegsmarine]. On May 21, 1935, the armed services law was amended; from that point on, members of the military had to produce evidence of their ancestry. Any man between the ages of 18 and 45 was eligible for conscription; in times of war, the age range could be expanded to include more men. Moreover, the armed forces law stipulated that in the event of war all German men and women were obliged to “serve the Fatherland.”