In the brief time span covered by this chapter, the German Reich reached its pinnacles of power and territorial expansion, but the Germans also experienced unprecedented depths of defeat and despair. Announcing that “Germany will be a world power, or it will vanish,” the Nazi dictator dropped the mask of peaceful revisionism and unleashed World War II. With the end of that conflict, the second part of Hitler’s prophecy had come true: For all practical purposes, Germany was no more. In 1945, Germany, as Andreas Hillgruber has remarked, stood not at the level of 1939 or 1914, but—in terms of sociopolitical development—closer to 1815. Adolf Hitler’s rule had set German history back 150 years.