The Reichstag Fire

Posted: November 9, 2010 in World War 2
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On the evening of February 27th, 2933, a fire suddenly broke out in the Reichstag, the German parliament building in Berlin. Hermann Göring, Hitler’s Minister of the Interior, was quickly on the scene.

A feeble-minded Dutchman, Marinus van der Lubbe, was arrested on the spot and publicly accused by Göring of being a communist agent. The next day Hitler informed Hindenburg of the existence of a communist plot to subvert the state and persuaded him to sign an Emergency Decree for the Defense of People and State. This not only provided the government with emergency powers, it suspended basic civil liberties such as freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

Some 4,000 people were arrested in connection with the fire, but only five, including the leader of the Communist Party in parliament, appeared in court at Leipzig that September. Van der Lubbe alone was found guilty and executed. Whether he was actually responsible for the fire or whether it was started by the Nazis themselves has never been sufficiently proven.

From World War II: The Definitive Visual History, by Richard Holmes


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