On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag, seat of the German parliament, caught fire and burnt to the ground. Just two weeks before the anticipated election of representatives to the Reichstag on March 5, the fire would prove to be Chancellor Adolph Hitler´s next step on hin rise to eventual dictatorship of the former Republic of Germany. Hitler and the leaders of the Nazi party immediately accused the Communists of setting the fire. A few minutes afte the fire had begun, Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch communist at the scene, was arrested for arson. What caused the fire, however, was not nearly as important as what resulted from the fire.
Focus: Understanding how a legally constructed republic with duly eledted representatives can disintegrate into fascism. The results of the Reichstag fire and how they influenced the lives of individual Germans, members of the Communist party and Hitler´s elevation to dicator through the Enabling Acts need to be examined.
Note and understand the progressive nature of the Nazi rise from "fringe" party in 1924 to legitimacy and power in 1932.
BURNING THE REICHSTAG
On the 27. February in 1933, one month after Adolf Hitler was declared Reichskanzler, the Reichstags-building in Berlin was burning.
When the police arrived they found Marinus van der Lubbe on the premises. After being tortured by the Gestapo he confessed to starting the Reichstag Fire. However he denies tha he was part of a Communist conspiracy. Hermann Goering refused to believe him and he ordered the arrest of several leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD).
When Hitler heard the news about the fire he gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night." Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Herrman Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.
SOURCE: DER GUTE MENSCHENKENNER NR. 8, 1933. HERAUSGEBER AMANDUS KUPFER, BEDEUTSAMSTER SCHÜLER VON CARL HUTER.