• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Who burnt the Reichstag?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

history coursework Who burned the Reichstag? On the evening of the 27th of February the Reichstag parliament building was burned down. The fire started at approximately 9pm. a lecturer from Bremen, Floeter, saw as he was walking past the Reichstag, a man breaking in through the window of the building. He quickly found a policeman and when they returned they saw a mysterious figure in the Reichstag, but more importantly he saw flames. The time was 9:03 p.m. Thaler was next on the scene and he told the policeman to shoot the figure. The policeman fired his gun, and the figure disappeared. at 9:13pm the first report reached the fire station, and at 9:15pm the first fire engine reached the scene. At 9:22pm a policeman tried to enter the building but the flames were so fierce he had to retreat. At 9:27pm the police found a half naked man, the man was Marina Van Der Lubbe. At 9:42pm the 60 fire engines from Berlin all arrived at the Reichstag. However they could not control the blaze and the Reichstag was ruined. The Reichstag was important in German history, because it was vital in the increasing the Nazi's election results. I will study a number of sources' that have been produced, primary and secondary, and try to determine who started the fire, for this I will consider the Nazi's, the Communists and Van Der Lubbe himself. After I have read all the sources and wrote down all relevant details, I will write a conclusion saying who I believe burned the Reichstag. The first group of people to be accused of burning the Reichstag, was the Communists, I will study all sources on them.We know the Communists were the first to be accused because Herman Goering was inside the smouldering Reichstag when he shouted over to Von Papen, "This is a Communist crime against the new government." ...read more.

Middle

There is however considerable evidence that suggests the Nazis did not burn the Reichstag. The "Brown Book" which insists that the Nazis did burn the Reichstag is biased, because it was written by the Communists who regarded that Nazis as their worst enemies. The Communists have therefore a good reason to be biased. Whilst Goebels has been accused of organising the fire there is evidence to undermine this claim. When Goebels received the phone call to tell him the Reichstag was on fire, he did not believe it, and he had to get a number of calls before telling Hitler. Goebels was convinced that the news was "pure fantasy", why would Goebels be suprised if he knew all along that the Reichstag was to be burned. As Goebels wrote this down in his diary he is probably telling us the truth- only he was supposed to read his diary so there would be no point in lying to himself. Goering was also blamed but the evidence against him is not foolproof. John Heartfield is famous for his photo montage of Goering standing in front of the burning Reichstag wearing an apron holding an axe in his hands. Heartfeild is biased because he was a Communist and would like to have seen Goering's reputation in shreds. The strongest piece of evidence against Goering was his confession, however the confession was made at a party and Goering may have been confused or maybe just trying to impress Hitler, so this piece of evidence may be unreliable. Also the three Nazis (Gisevius, Diels and Hadler) who gave evidence at the nuremburg trials, may not be reliable, because they may have been trying to get themselves a lighter sentence by inventing stories about Goering. They may have been essentially trying to save their own skin. William Shirer's idea that the Nazis used the underground tunnel to the Reichstag also has flaws in it. ...read more.

Conclusion

After studying all the evidence and sources that I have been given, I have come to the conclusion that Van Der Lubbe burned the Reichstag on his own. I do not think that the Nazi's assisted Van Der Lubbe but the Nazi's did get massive gains from the fire. I believe this because after looking at all the evidence I was not convinced by shirer and saw clearly that AJP Taylor's criticisms of Shirers interpretation/ representation, crucially Van Der Lubbe's confessions that he acted alone, helped to convince me that Van Der Lubbe was guilty. The police were satisfied that they caught the right man and so am I. It was quite difficult to study the evidence because it is, at times contradictory, some of them suggest that the Communists started the fire, others the Nazi's and still others just Van Der Lubbe. Therefore it is hard to come to a definite conclusion. Some of the evidence is biased such as "Armed Uprising", the book written by the Nazi's, blaming the Communists. Although "Armed Uprising" is very useful, because it shows who the Nazi's considered was guilty. A further difficulty was that I did not have all the evidence, Van Der Lubbe was executed before all information could be extracted from him and leaving several areas of mystery. Even though historians have examined the same evidence they can come to very different conclusions, for example AJP Taylor thought that the Nazi's had Burned the Reichstag, but once he read what another historian had to say, he changed his mind and claimed that Van Der Lubbe had burned that Reichstag on his own with no help. Therefore although I have studied the sources and I believe Van Der Lubbe to be responsible someone else studying the same sources could easily come to a different conclusion. If there was however, a chance that somebody found new evidence I may have to change my conclusion, if the evidence was strong enough to suggest Van Der Lubbe was innocent. Andy Clarke History ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Germany 1918-1939 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Germany 1918-1939 essays

  1. How important was the Reichstag fire in Hitlers consolidation of power?

    Hitler saw Rohm as a potential threat to his newly acquired power so he decided to take him out along with all of the SA high command. Rohm had the support of the SA, the means and the qualities of a leader.

  2. IGCSE History Coursework Assignment B - Source Analysis of the Reichstag Fire

    Source E was General Franz Halder giving evidence at Nuremberg Trials of 1946. Therefore, his purpose was probably to impress the judges to not have him being sent to jail. Therefore, he probably altered or totally changed the evidence he gave.

  1. Studies of Sources from the Reichstag Fire - who was responsible?

    Source D could be perceived as reliable. As it was written by a British person, your natural assumption would be that it was the truth because were not under Nazi power, so could be more honest, and they were more neutral than for or against the Nazis.

  2. How and why do Historians approaches to the MunichAgreement differ from each other?

    He was the 5th Secretary of the State, Director of Psychological Strategy Board, and also served as Assistant to the President for National Affairs. This limitless background of experience with international and national matters of defense, research, and psychology make Kissinger himself an expert in his field and a boundless source of knowledge.

  1. History Coursework – the Reichstag Fire

    Diels may have released this document later on as it was after the trial of Van der Lubbe and after he had been found guilty- meaning that the information he gives about Van der Lubbe is reinforced by the document and not contradicted.

  2. Modern World History Coursework - Reichstag Sourcework

    These concerns are due to the content and motive for writing the account, and how all official records that could reinforce the account have been lost forever. One of the major discrepancies with this report is when it was written, a full 12 years after the events occurred.

  1. Why Did Kristallnacht Take Place? (a) A ...

    have been excluded from the source, or details could have been lost or altered. Though this is relatively unlikely, as it is an historian who produced this summary and would therefore have no reason for changing the reasoning behind the account.

  2. GCSE History Coursework: Reichstag Fire 1) ...

    Hitler had the Reichstag set on fire purposely to gain support and so he could blame Van der Lubbe and the Communists at the same time. If that is the case, then I think the artist is definitely against the Nazis, and is trying to show them as setting up the fire for their own good.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work