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Reichstag Fire

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Introduction

Reichstag Fire: Case Study Question One The picture in Source A depicts the Reichstag smouldering on the morning of February 28th 1933. By the date, we notice it was still burning the day after the initial attack, signifying to us the strength and intensity of the fire itself. Also in the picture are bystanders, staring in awe at their government building in smoke. This indicates the incredulity and amazement the onlookers are feeling and the sight of the Reichstag on fire is so shocking, they are compelled to stop their journeys to stare at it as it burns. Question Two The sources are useful in telling us who started the fire. Source B suggests Van der Lubbe acted alone, whereas Source C disagrees, saying it was a communist plot and the beginning of an uprising. In addition, they are useful in proving Germany was unsure about the cause of the fire; however, some people found a confession from the main suspect convincing enough to conclude that it was Van der Lubbe. We learn from Source B some of Van der Lubbe's motives. He said "since the workers would do nothing, I had to do something myself". This tells us he was unhappy with the way Germany was being run, the fact that no one was taking any action against the Nazis gaining authority and that he did not like the Nazi's powerful status and he wanted to harm "something that belonged to the system". ...read more.

Middle

Source G is very sensationalised compared to Source F, which is a similar account of what the situation was. For example, G(ring says "One hundredweight of incendiary material? No, ten hundredweight or even a hundred". G(ring is exaggerating Hitler's claim that "We have seized hundredweights of material in the secret cellar of the Communist headquarters". Also, G(ring said, "It may be a good police report, but its not the kinda of communiqu� I had in mind". Basically, he's saying that its not right and is referring to the report of Martin Sommerfeldt who wrote, "the police...arrested a man who seemed to be running berserk in the corridors". This suggests that Van der Lubbe acted alone, however Source F strongly disagrees saying "the police are able to prove were planned by the communists" which blames the whole Communist party of the Fire. Question Five Source A is a picture of people looking at the fire, an important event. People are stopping and staring at the Reichstag on fire proving the significance of the event. Source B, Van der Lubbe's statement, provides the Nazis with the opportunity to blame the communists for the fire. He says, "I was a member of the Communist party". The Nazis had a chance to blame the communists and play on the fears of a communist revolution. Source C, Goebbels' diary entry for the 27th February, immediately seizes an opportunity to accuse of the communists of beginning an evolution and also gives Hitler and Goebbels an alibi. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Reichstag Fire Decree was the basis of later decrees that abolished the political parties other than the NSDAP and strengthened Hitler's dictatorial power. I consider Article 48 and the Enabling act more important than the Reichstag Fire. In conclusion, I believe that the Reichstag Fire was a very important incident and provided the Nazi's with the means to destroy the communists politically and gain the power to eventually control all of Germany. However, I think that it was not the most important of all the above factors in gaining control. I have considered all other factors that contributed to the Nazi's gain of power, and think that Propaganda, Terror and Article 48 & the Enabling Act we more important to the Nazi's. Propaganda was more important than the Reichstag Fire because it allowed the Nazi's to discredit the communists and use it against them as a shield to accomplish horrendous acts to obtain power. As terror swept through Germany, so did votes for the Nazi's in the Weimar government. People became afraid for their lives, and considered not voting for the Nazi's as suicidal. Any opposition to the Nazi's would surely be dealt with. This scared people into voting the Nazi's and was far more effective than the Reichstag fire in obtaining power. Finally, Article 48 and the Enabling Act of 1933 provided Hitler with sufficient power to make laws without passing them through the government. This allowed him to literally do what he wanted, making them additionally vital to Hitler's plans to control Germany. ...read more.

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