The Reichstag Fire – Communist Action or Nazi Plot?
Although historians and scholars still debate the cause of the Reichstag Building fire in 1933 Germany, a mere 28 days after Hitler had been made Chancellor of Germany; there is strong evidence and reasoning of a devious Nazi plot. The Reichstag building was the location of the German Parliament, and although the Nazi party was rising, they did not yet at the time of the fire, hold any majorities in seats.
Arson by communists was quickly rumored as the cause, and a mentally challenged Dutch journalist and communist Marinus Van der Lubbe, found at the scene, and four others were arrested for Arson. Hitler urged German President Paul von Hindenburg to pass legislation against communism, resulting in massive arrests. These arrests conveniently cleared many of the seats in Parliament, which were quickly filled by members of the National Socialist German Worker’s (Nazi) Party.
Adolf Hitler used the publicity of the fire for the perfect venue to be quoted in the media and spew his hatred against communism, and set the seeds for his plan for power. Hitler declared the fire a “god-given signal,” and authored the quote that “you are witnessing the beginning of a great new epoch in German history. This fire is the beginning.” Today, these words can bring chills in retrospect. The fire may have burned to ashes any hope of a democracy in Germany as well as the building that day.
Although the Nazi party still lost the majority of votes by a slim margin immediately following the restructuring of Parliament after the fire, it paved the way for Hitler to create and pass the “Enabling Act,” which allowed a 2/3 majority and his power to rule by decree. In effect, the Reichstag fire allowed Hitler to become the dictator of Germany.
The most likely scenario of what truly happened was that the fire was a Nazi arson plot to lay false blame on the communists, and carried out by Hitler henchmen Herman Goering, the Prussian Minister of the Interior and Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda chief. Although brilliant in its deception and planning, the event was a stepping stone to World War II, the most devastating debacle in history.