Anyone ever wondered what exactly the term “Third Reich” stood for? It’s one of those things you hear all the time on the Hitler, er, History Channel and in movies, but it’s never explained. If there was a “third” reich, what was the “Second Reich”? And for that matter, the first? Well, I’m here on this rainy Friday afternoon to tell you. “Reich” is the German word for “Empire”. The first German empire was the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted from the Treaty of Verdun in 843 A.D. until Napoleon’s conquest of Europe in 1806. That’s 963 straight years. Pretty impressive as empires go. The “Second Reich” was considerably shorter, lasting a mere 47 years from the time Wilhelm the First was crowned emperor of Germany in 1871 until Wilhelm the Second retreated into exile in the Netherlands following World War I in 1918. Following the trend, the Third Reich was shorter still, lasting just 12 years from 1933, when the National Socialist Party took power in Germany until the close of World War II in 1945. What does this have to do with pastry? Why, absolutely nothing. But then you’re probably getting used to that.