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Fire in the Reichstag

// Information about the fire in the Germany parliament, the Reichstag.

On February 27, 1933 there was a fire in the German parliament, the Reichstag. When police arrived there they found Marinus van der Lubbe, 24 years old and from Holland. He was tortured by the Gestapo in order to confess that he had started the fire. However, Marinus denied that fact that, according to the German authorities, was part of a conspiracy of the Communist faction in Germany. Since Hermann Goering did not believe, he ordered the arrest of a set of leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD). 

For Adolf Hitler that fire corresponded to a divine sign, having told a reporter that You are witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in German history... This fire is the beginning. After Hitler had visited the parliament and have seen the destruction caused by the fire, there was a meeting where he gave very clear orders: The German people have been peaceful for too long. All communists representatives must be killed. All Communist deputies must be held tonight. All friends of the Communists must be arrested. And this also applies to the Social Democrats and to the Reichsbanner!


 


After Hitler and Goebbels made some pressure in order to have passed messages against the communists in the press regarding the coverage of the fire in the Reichstag, Hitler made the President von Hindenburg to declare a state of emergency and authorized the decree that allowed, among other things limit the freedom of press and expression (Order Of The Reich President for the protection of the People and State). 

With this, the SA and the SS began the persecution of communists in places where they met and even in their homes. Thousands of Communists, Social Democrats and liberals were arrested for the SA installations where they were abused and tortured. The Nazis eliminated all political activities, meetings and publications of anti-Nazi parties, having also been decreed that any campaign against the Nazis would be considered illegal. 

The Nazi-controlled newspapers published false evidence of the Communist conspiracy, claiming that only Hitler and the Nazis were able to prevent the coming to power of the communists. Apart from newspapers, Joseph Goebbels controlled the radio that broadcasted throughout Germany the Nazi propaganda and all the speeches by Adolf Hitler. 

The national elections of March 5, 1933 were the last free elections in Germany, having the Nazis won a 44% representation in the Reichstag (about 17,277,180 votes), something not enough for an absolute majority. 

Regarding the fire in the Reichstag, in addition to Marinus van der Lubbe the German police charged four communists with complicity in the act of causing the fire in the Reichstag. Among those communists, there were also the chairman of the KPD and Georgi Dimitrov of the Soviet Comintern (formerly known as Communist International). 

Marinus van der Lubbe was found guilty and executed on the January 10, 1934. The remaining defendants were acquitted, and Hitler decided that future cases of treason would no longer be judged by the Supreme Court going to be tried by a People's Court whose members were from the Party and where the prisoners would be judged by members of the National Socialist Party of German Workers (NSDAP). 

For many years, outside of Germany it was considered that the fire that destroyed part of the Reichstag had been provoked by the Nazis as a propaganda maneuver to help them defeat the communists and other left parties. However, evidence later discovered proved that it was Marinus van der Lubbe who had caused the fire alone, and Hitler used as a pretext to launch a campaign against the Communists.




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