ON THIS DAY IN GERMAN HISTORY
27 February 1933: The Reichstag in Berlin is set on fire, helping to more firmly establish the Nazi party in Germany.
So, for those who don’t know, the Reichstag is Germany’s Parliament building. In 1933 it was set on fire. So what? Well it’s an important event.
Let’s set up a few things: Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany the month before on 30 January. He had a few goals in mind:
- Get the Nazi party the majority in Parliament. At the time it only had 32%, whilst 66% was considered “the majority”.
- Abolish democracy in a “legal” route by passing the Enabling Act.
- Abuse the shit out of the Enabling Act.
Just how Hitler prefers to operate.
The “Enabling Act” was basically a law that allowed the Chancellor to do whatever the hell he wanted by bypassing the Reichstag. It was only to be used in emergencies - and in fact it had only ever been used once before to stop hyperinflation after WWI.
Well Hitler, being Hitler, thought that everything was an emergency, all the time.
During the elections, he was all, “oh shit!! we’re on the verge of a communist takeover!! guis only the Nazi party can stop it!!” and that fear helped him get into power.
Communists can smell fear.
SO, on 27 February, Hitler was pretty much still breaking in the comfy chair and hanging his plaques up on the wall when BOOM! that night, the Reichstag goes up in flames.
They hadn’t even printed his desk name plate yet.
The Berlin Fire Department put the fire out 45 minutes after they arrived, but it was too late. Most if the inside of the building was ruined and was closed for quite a while.
FUN FACT: Hitler was at his buddy Goebbels’ apartment, having dinner, at the time of the fire. The fire department called Goebbels, but he thought it was a prank, so he hung up. Only when they called back with a “no, seriously, dipwad, get your candy ass down here” did he finally tell the Chancellor.
So who dun it?
Upon arrival, Goring immediately cried “Communists!” and everyone else was like, “Yeah what he said!” Hitler took it as a sign of God. Remember, this was before any evidence of foul play could be seen - for all anybody knew, it could have been started by a mouse chewing on a wire.
A COMMUNIST mouse
Further investigation found a young, mentally-handicapped Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe to be responsible. Holy shit, it was communists! Upon arrest, he claimed to be working alone, to gather German workers against fascist rule.
So everyone is screaming “Communists!!” and the next day, German President Hindenburg (asked by Hitler) signed into law the “Reichstag Fire Decree” which basically removed German Civil Liberties and allowed non-Nazi friendly media and opinions to be banned. It was, essentially, a legal “STFU”.
Hitler had finally found proof of his “communists ruin everything” theory.
Long story short; This gave the Nazi party the leverage they needed to gain majority in government, and a month later Hitler passed the Enabling Act, which essentially made Hitler the dictator of Germany.
van der Lubbe was arrested, tried, and guillotined along with 3 other communist party members in December 1933.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Was it communists? The jury is still out. Though van der Lubbe confessed, he confessed under torture while imprisoned. He was not caught in the act. Historians debate nowadays whether it was actually him, whether he worked alone or not - or whether everything was planned by the Nazi party.
You cannot act surprised. Seriously.
Wait...It just hit me...
The bombings in Damascus just scream “Reichstag fire of 1933” in Germany. This is why history is so important so you can instantly pick out true terrorism from propaganda.
The Nazi Party burned the the Reichstag (Germany Congress) and blamed it on the “communists” to drive up fear and support for their movement.
The Syrian government bombed its capital to do the same thing but “communist” name has been rubbed out and “terrorist” has been written in its place. For what, support for its eliminationist, murderous crackdown. The fire of Germany was designed to get the German government aligned with Hitler’s vision, the Syrian bombings were designed to, attempt, to get the Arab League aligned with Assad.
This is why history is so important.
The Reichstag fire was an attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on the 27th February 1933. This event is key in the progression of Nazi take over.
Marius Van der Lubbe, a communist, was arrested for arson and blamed for the fire, as were four other Communist Leaders. The Nazi’s used the fire as evidence that the communists were plotting against the German Government. Consequently, a mass arrest of all communists was issued, including all delegates, leaving their parliamentary seats empty, helping the Nazi party win majority vote in the election. There are several conspiracy stories to say the arson attack was ordered by the Nazi Party in their attempt to rule Germany.
During the election campaign, the Nazi’s spread fear of a communist revolution and even though Van der Lubbe said he had acted alone, Hitler accused the Communists of plotting to take over Germany, and the only way to stop this was the pass the Enabling Act. The Enabling Act is a law that gives the Chancellor the ability to pass a law without the input of the Reichstag. The Enabling Act is only to be issued in times of great emergency. The Nazi campaign said that if the number of Nazi seats increased, the Enabling act could be issued to them and they could ban the Communist party. The Reichstag Fire helped speed up the process of getting the Enabling Act, hence why some people believe it was a purpose stunt by the Nazis.
With communist vote suppressed, the Nazi party managed to raise their vote in the Reichstag election from 33% to 44%. With their allies, the German National People’s Party, who won 8%, they won a majority with 52%. However, the Nazi’s were still short of their goal of two thirds, which they required to win the Enabling Act, but, with the gradual suppression of the Communists and the Nazi’s being able to take advantage of national security concerns.
Also, some members of the Social Democratic Party (the only party who could vote against the Enabling Act) were not allowed to take their seats due to arrests made by the Nazi SA. Hitler was giving the Enabling Act on March 23rd and he became dictator of Germany on the 27th.
In July 1933, Marinus Van der Lubbe, Ernst Torgler, Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov and Vassil Tanev were all charged for the arson attack on the Reichstag Fire. Van der Lubbe was found guilty and sentenced to death by guillotine. The Nazi’s said that Lubbe was part of the communist conspiracy to take over Germany, the Communists fought back by saying he was part of the Nazi party in their attempt to take over Germany. Lubbe however claimed that he had acted alone and was protesting against how the working class was treated.