Even if the record of their rise to power had been far from stainless, the Nazis were keen to keep their banners and flags spick and span. In fact, when Hitler considered the necessity of Germany's expansion, he invariably turned to the domestic, describing the country's need for Lebensraum (living space). This homely metaphor for Germany's imperial designs had originally cropped up in Mein Kampf and was aired again at this year's Nuremberg Congress. Taking encouragement from Mussolini's claim at the congress to have resuscitated the Roman Empire, the Nazi leader implied that, without imminent expansion, Germany was on the point of bursting: "Without colonies Germany's space is too small to guarantee that our people can be fed safely and continuously."

The bluff grandeur of the congress was entirely to be expected. A month later, Hitler was at his self-effacing best, however, when he played host to the Edward Duke of Windsor and his new wife. Hitler was well aware of the credibility a visit to Germany by an enthusiastic former King of England would lend his regime and charmed the Duke and Duchess throughout their visit.

Whatever the Duke's regard for Nazi housing and social policy, even the most generous felt his visit misguided in light of the German role in one of the Spanish Civil War's worst atrocities. It had been market day in Guernica when a detachment of Luftwaffe fighter-bombers - provided by Hitler in support of Franco's nationalist rebellion - bombarded the Basque town with high-explosives before razing it with incendiaries. The massacre - immortalised within weeks by Picasso - did all the more to swell the ranks of the International Brigade with foreign idealists already inspired by the Republican government's struggle against Fascism. British men and women, including George Orwell, who joined the Brigade risked imprisonment by their own government, but, despite the presence of nearly 60,000 international volunteers, the Republic looked set to fall to Franco by year's end.