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The Reichstag Fire-Coursework B

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Introduction

Chris Nevins The Reichstag Fire-Coursework B Question 1: Source A is a piece of secondary evidence by Rudolf Diels, head of the Prussian political police. In it he tells us of how he arrived at the burning building to find Van der Lubbe, come out of the building, with matches and communist pamphlets. Source B is a piece of primary evidence where Van der Lubbe was speaking at his trial. He said that he was the only one who set fire to the building. None of the defendants, including the communists, were guilty of starting the fire. In Diel's report he often put across his own opinions rather than the facts. At one point he wrote that Goring said "Police on emergency footing; shoot to kill." This account was written after the Second World War, which would have been at least 12 years after the event. How could Diels remember what Goring said word for word? Diels also wrote that Van der Lubbe could of easily set fire to the curtains, furniture and wooden panels. Deils also said that Van der Lubbe ran through corridors. If Van der Lubbe was physically and mentally handicapped, how could he have done all this? Source A goes into a lot more detail of the event than source B. Source A tells us about how Van der Lubbe came out of the building with matches and how he made lots of little fire throughout the Reichstag. Where as source B is a short statement by Van der Lubbe of who is responsible of starting the fire. So source b can be used to support source A because source B is saying that Van der Lubbe started the fire and so is source A. Question 2: Source A is a piece of secondary evidence written by Diels, head of the Prussian police, after the Second World War. In some ways this source can be seen as reliable and in others it can't. ...read more.

Middle

This means that he could have been lying to get out of trouble. This is the only source blaming Goring so therefore could be untrue. However, Halder claims that when Goring said he did it he was drunk and sometimes you speak truthfully when you're drunk because you don't think of the consequences. Also Halder was under oath at the trial so he shouldn't have been lying. Source F was Goring's reply to what Halder had to say. Goring claimed that it was all lies. However, after ten years it might have been safe to boast about it but also you don't know what your saying when your drunk, and again he is on trial for war crimes so would not implicate himself in another crime. Source G is the confession of Karl Ernst saying that he and two other S.A men set fire to the Reichstag. The communists published this confession after the death of Ernst and therefore Ernst could not defend himself. Also when you want a confession you would use torture. Ernst might have lied just to stop the pain. There are no other sources saying that Ernst set fire to the building so we don't know if this source is reliable. Source's E and G both blame the Nazis. So these two sources' can back each other up and therefore can be used against F, which blames the communists. Therefore each source contains a certain amount of bias dependant on audience and purpose. Question 6: Source H is a piece of secondary evidence from a history book. It blames the communists for the fire because it says the Nazis used out-of-date lists to make arrests and they didn't destroy the communists as planned. Source I is a piece of secondary evidence also from a history book. It blames the Nazis because it didn't think Van der Lubbe could have been capable to do all that damage, as he was handicapped. ...read more.

Conclusion

Question 8: There is so much disagreement over who started the Reichstag fire because most of the evidence available to us is biased. Therefore it is hard to come to any conclusion. A lot of people had a lot to lose and gain from the outcome of the fire so that causes a lot of confusion. This is because people didn't want to be seen as starting the fire because they would have lost the election and would have been arrested. So this didn't happen people made up stories that were not true, meaning there is a lot of information that is incorrect and makes it more difficult to find out actually what happened, as there are cover-ups and information blocking the truth. People argue that the communists started the fire and there is evidence to support this. Sources A, B, D, F and H back up this argument. However, people also say that the Nazis were responsible for the fire and again there is evidence to support this for the sources C, E and G. People have their own opinions about things. There were a lot of people investigating the fire and therefore there was a lot of disagreement. So the more people investigating the fire the less likely any conclusion can be reached. This is because the evidence available to us is people's own opinions, and not the full truth. It therefore makes it difficult to decide which evidence is correct and which isn't. The more evidence there is the more we are going to get confused as the evidence will be cover-ups of the actual truth so the people who were guilty won't get found out. Therefore it is clear form the evidence that many groups had a lot to gain or lose from the fire, and therefore all evidence will contain an amount of bias due to contest, audience and purpose. As time goes by it is less likely that any definite judgement will be reached on who was to blame for the start of the Reichstag fire as all evidence is biased. ...read more.

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