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The Reichstag Fire

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Introduction

The Reichstag Fire 1) Marinus Van der Lubbe's oral evidence at his trial is that he acted alone in starting the fire. That he was guilty there is little doubt. Not only did Rudolph Diels, the head of the Prussian political police, see him at the scene (after being arrested by Reichstag officials) but also Van der Lubbe proudly claimed responsibility for starting the fire at the trial. Rudolph Diels interviewed Van der Lubbe in the police headquarters on the evening of the fire. He formed the opinion that Van der Lubbe acted alone. Diels has stated that Van der Lubbe gave a series of confused stories. He also reported that Van der Lubbe was a madman. However, research into Van der Lubbe's background shows that he had a history of taking responsibility for things he had not done. While working for the Tielmann factory a strike broke out. Van der Lubbe claimed to the management to be the ringleader and offered to accept any punishment provided no one else was victimised even though he was far to inexperienced to have been seriously involved. ...read more.

Middle

Van der Lubbe confesses to Diel that he started other smaller fires in Berlin. Details provided by Van der Lubbe suggested that other communists helped him start those other fires and therefore following on from that Diel assumed that the there must have been assistance to Van Der Lubbe at the Rieichstag. There is no oral evidence from Van Der Lubbe at the trial that this was the case. 2) On the 27th February the Reichstag is empty as it had been in recess since December. At around 20:30 one of the caretakers checks the building and finds nothing unusual. At 20:50 a postman is passing the entrance to the session chamber and notices nothing unusual. At 21:05 a student sees a man carrying a burning brand on the first floor. By 21:14 the fire alarm is received by the local firestation and the firemen are in the building by 21:24 but fires are breaking out everywhere. At 21:27 there is a huge explosion and the great chamber is enveloped by flames. ...read more.

Conclusion

The cartoon shows Hindenburg handing over emergency powers and total dictatorship to Hitler by advising him to take advantage of the political situation. In contrast the cover of the book shows Van der Lubbe as part of an armed uprising. The cartoon in the British magazine is satire. This contrasts with the propaganda portrayed on the book cover. The Red Peril and the German book cover both agree that Hitler will be able to take total control of Germany because of the Reichstag fire. .................. 4) The Nazis wanted to blame the communists for the fire for political reasons. By blaming the communists for the fire the Reich president was able to pass a Decree for the Protection of People and State. The consequence of this was that the government were able to arrest leading communists and to ban them from the election campaign. The book was published in order try and convince people that the Nazis did not start the Reichstag fire. Another reason for publishing the book was to convince people to vote for the Nazis in the forthcoming election. The book, blaming the communists for starting the fire, gave Hitler the excuse for calling for new general elections in Germany ...read more.

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