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Reichstag Fire

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Introduction

HISTORY COURSEWORK- THE REICHSTAG FIRE DEVANSHI SODHANI Q1. What can you learn about the events surrounding the Reich Stag Fire from source A? Ans. Source A is an extract from Seftan Delmer's article that was written by him on 27th February 1933 which was the day when the German parliament or the Reich Stag was in flames. This source describes the events surrounding the Reich Stag fire which broke out at 9.45pm in the Assembly Hall of the building. It also states that the fire was under control by 12.30am. After the fire started, the leaders of the Nazi party walked in. they were- Adolf Hitler, Dr.Goebbels and Captain Goering. Delmer has a balanced opinion about the cause of the fire. According to the source, this arson was carried out by a Communist Dutchman called Marius Van der Lubbe. The source also suggests that it could have been the work of the Nazis who wanted to completely destroy Communism and take over as the leaders of Germany by winning the elections that were supposed to be held on 8th March 1933. Delmer also describes the events that followed the fire. Hitler walked into the Reich Stag after the fire had broken out and declared, "This is the God- given signal! If this fire, as I believe, turns out to be the handiwork of Communists then there is nothing that shall stop us now crushing out thus murder pest with an iron fist." He had a very determined expression on his face and his eyes were bulging out of his head. Captain Goering who was the propaganda chief of the Nazi party said that some communist deputies were present in the Reich Stag twenty minutes before fire and that they had managed to get hold of one of them. Delmer writes that Hitler also interacted with him saying "God grant, that this is the work of the Communists. ...read more.

Middle

This leaflet was published just before the elections that were to be held on 5th March 1933. The headline says "THE REICHSTAG IN FLAMES" in capital letters because it was the most recent evidence that the Nazis had to gain support of the German people. At that time, Hitler's main opposition was coming from the communist party and he wanted to completely crush them. This leaflet is thus targeted at the communists. The line, "Farmers' houses burnt down" refers to the roots of communism in Russia where according to the collectivization rule all farmers were made to work till they met the target produce set by the Russian government. If they failed to do so, their houses were burnt down and their land and animals were taken away. The Nazis used this against communists to get the support of the farmers who at first didn't support the Nazis when the party had been founded in 1919. Along with the communists, the Nazis also cried foul against the Social Democrats who supported communism. They felt that the fate of Germans would be like the Russians who were shot if they did not follow the policies of the government. The leaflet also states that all the Germans must join the outcry against communism otherwise the whole country would suffer under the communists. This source supports the view firmly that after the Reich Stag Fire, the Nazis were able to eliminate the communist opposition to a great extent because finally the Nazis won the election after defeating the communist party. Q4. Study source G. How reliable is this account? Explain your answer. Ans. Many observers reacted to the burning of the Reich Stag building on 27th September 1933. Some of them blamed the Communists for causing the fire and some thought that it was the handiwork of the Nazis so as to gain the support of the German people. ...read more.

Conclusion

The statement made by Halder is at the time when he was not the commander- in- chief and was attending a luncheon on Hitler's birthday. He said, "I heard with my own ears when Goering interrupted the conversation and shouted: The only one who knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!" Contrary to this, in the second statement made by Goering himself at the Nuremburg trials of 1946, he states that he did not cause the Reichstag fire and that he would have never used the inconvenient way of setting the Reichstag on fire to blame the communists. The statement made by Halder is not completely reliable since he may have revenge in mind after he was removed from his post by Hitler during the war in 1942. The statement made by Goering too is not completely reliable since he was the main accused and he was trying to defend himself till his trial. Therefore, source J cannot be used to judge if Goering was telling lies. Source K is a description of "the brown book on the Reichstag fire and Hitler's terror." The book was published in 1933 in Switzerland under the editorship of Willi Munzenberg. The book had German �migr�s proving the fact that the Reichstag fire was caused by the Nazis themselves in a secret operation that was run by the SA leader Herman Goering. However, the author of this book was the leader of the German communist party which was the main opponent of the Nazi party. Therefore, it can be said that he would always write something blaming the Nazis. In the same source, it is written that everyone abroad was convinced that the Nazis had set fire to the Reichstag building. Although the source suggests this, there are no statistics to prove it and thus it cannot be used as an evidence to show that Goering was telling lies. After reading both the sources, there isn't enough evidence to show that Goering was telling lies and therefore in conclusion I would say that there is no solid proof that Goering was lying. ...read more.

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