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Reichstag Fire Essay Research Paper 1

Reichstag Fire Essay, Research Paper 1. Rudolf Diels, who was the head of the Prussian political police at the time of the fire, wrote source A. In his account of events, he

Reichstag Fire Essay, Research Paper

1. Rudolf Diels, who was the head of the Prussian political

police at the time of the fire, wrote source A. In his account of events, he

explains that Van Der Lubbe was caught red handed at the incident, and after

questioning Van Der Lubbe he believed that the suspect was alone and there was

no evidence that other people could have been involved, even other communists. During the trial of Van Der Lubbe in 1933, he openly

confessed to setting fire to the building, but denied that he had been helped.

His statement in source B shows that he was adamant that he had worked alone.

This would seem to prove Diels? theory, however, Van Der Lubbe could easily

have been lying in order to protect the other arsonists, who would have

probably been high ranking members of the communist party according to Goring?s

theory, and therefore much more valuable than a simple member, although

extremely devoted, who was mentally unstable. If he was lying, he could also be

covering the tracks of the Nazi party, who could have set it all up and, as

they did, place the blame on the communists. All of this causes great confusion for anyone trying to

uncover the truth. Rudolf Diels? account could be seen as reasonably reliable

as he seems to have considered all the evidence and come to a thought out and

unbiased opinion. However, it was written 12 years after the incident so Diels?

memory could easily be distorted. Unfortunately, Van Der Lubbe is not a

reliable source as he could be protecting any amount of people. And to the best

of everyone?s knowledge, he was half-blind, mentally slow, physically

challenged and a boaster who loved getting attention. So it?s very hard to

believe anything he says. So to answer the question you could say B supports A quite

far in that they both say Lubbe acted alone, but both sources are seriously

flawed so its not really possible to use them together as evidence to prove the

theory of lubbe acting alone2. Source A, Rudolf Diels? account of the

fire, although coming from a high ranking Nazi official, seems to disagree with

Goring and Hitler?s theory that it was a communist plot with many operatives.

This is evidence that Diels was not acting simply on obedience to Hitler and

the Nazi party, even though it was published after the war and Hitler?s death

(its likely that Diels would never have dared speak a word to contradict Hitler

before the end of the war, for fear of being killed). As the head of the

Prussian political police at the time, Diels was one of the first people called

to the scene, so he was able to investigate at the scene, only minutes after

the crime had been committed (he also headed the full investigation

afterwards). He claims that he found Van Der Lubbe alone in the Reichstag, out

of breath and dirty; he also relates other evidence that seem to prove the

possibility that Van Der Lubbe started the fire alone, he studies the

architecture and materials that where found in the Reichstag, all of it was

mostly wood, old furniture and heavy curtains, all of these were highly

inflammable. He says that Van Der Lubbe could have easily set fire to the

Reichstag as he ran around the long corridors, waving his shirt around and

lighting every thing possible. Even after a consultation with Goring and

Hitler, during which they put across their views, which normally he should have

agreed to as a Nazi, he still continued to think it out for himself and

concluded that Van Der Lubbe had acted alone. His ideas seem well thought out

and reasonable, they are not biased which helps his credibility. His

descriptions seem very clear even though the account was written a number of

years after the fire, but then again it was a very important event and

therefore not easily forgotten. From this evidence I believe that Rudolf Diels?

account of the fire is reasonably reliable. However there are a few contradictory elements and flaws in

his statement. First of all he said he believed Lubbe has acted alone, but

later he says, ??several details suggested that communists who had helped him

start these other fires, might have helped with the Reichstag Fire.? Diels?

account was also written some 12 years after the actual fire but he can still

remember lots of small details such as the look on Van der Lubbe?s face and the

words he heard and said himself during the incident. However, he was chief of

police so he probably had access to a lot of notes and records that would have

helped him write the statement. Diels may also be protecting himself from

prosecution and criticism in the light of the Nuremberg Trials. And also

however Diels? account may be believable, you have to remember that Van der

Lubbe was mentally and physically handicapped and so its unlikely that he could

have acted on his own.Although Diel?s account is well written and on its own

would probably convince a person that Van der Lubbe acted alone, there are too

many factors working against it. So I do not think it is reliable enough to use

as evidence in finding out the real cause of the fire.3.

The sources C

and D agree that the communists started the fire. Source C does not directly

say that the communists started the fire, but it does not say that the Nazis

started it. Hindenburg speaks of the fire as an opportunity, not as a planned

operation, and at the bottom it says ?THE RED PERIL? which is referring to the

Communists. It was also from a British magazine, which shows it wasn?t just the

Nazis who blamed the communists for the fire. Source D is an example of typical

Nazi anti-Communist propaganda, it was published as a direct response to the

fire; its purpose was to make the German people scared and angry towards all

Communists. SourceC shows that Hindenburg thinks that

Hitler should use the event as to its full potential of getting Hitler to his

dictatorship. Source D shows one of the measures Hitler took to exploit the

fire. As proof of this, Hindenburg signed a decree the next day granting the

Nazis the right to prevent freedom of speech and therefore eliminating all

opposition to the Nazis. At this time the Nazi party is gaining more and more

control, the first source show that is Hitler trying to be dictator, that he is

using the fire as an opportunity, but Source D is just justifying the increased

power to Hitler by blaming the communists for the fire. This puts C and D in

agreement. 4. The Nazis would have many reasons for

publishing such a book. The most important reason would be anti-Communist

propaganda in response to the Reichstag fire. Before the fire, Communism was

becoming increasingly popular. Hitler saw Communism as a serious threat, which

was why the fire was so convenient. The book would have backed up the Nazi

theory that the fire was a Communist plot to commence an ?Armed Uprising?. The

book would have helped convince most Germans that Communists were planning to

inflict terrible damage to the country and take power. This would have

confirmed a fear quite strongly held by the German public, thus gaining the

Nazi party even more support which would greatly influence the elections that

took place a week later. The book would no doubt be only a small part in a

large scale propaganda organised by Hitler?s staff, they tried to get through

to people by posters, radio and party speeches, a lot like the strategies used

during elections. Soon the people would grow to hate communists, children would

be brought up to hate all communists. It was the Nazi strategy for getting rid

of all their opposition, as the Communist party and the Socialists were the

biggest and therefore most dangerous opposition. Although the socialists where

not as extreme as the Communists and therefore less of a risk, socialism was

still a form of communism. However, the communists still polled highly in the

elections, but not high enough. The book could also have been part of a defined

policy that was set out to remove the threat of communism. 5. The sources E and G do not prove at all

that Goring was telling lies. The authenticity of source G is very questionable

as the communist party published it after Ernst?s death. It would suit the

communists to publish such information as this as it would gain them support

and place some of them blame on the Nazi party. There is no other proof that

Karl Ernst had made that confession, so this piece of evidence is not very

reliable at all. If however there was more proof that Ernst was behind the

fire, then it would probably be deemed much more reliable, but in the meantime

it just appears as a feeble effort by the Communist party to place the blame on

the Nazis. However, General Franz Halder?s evidence is much more plausible, but

still not a 100% sure. The problem is that we need to understand his motives to

see if he is lying or not. The most likely motive is that he is going to jail

anyway, so he might as well tell the truth, this would make his account

credible as he has nothing to lose. But, he may be saying it to try and save

himself, he may have thought that by giving this evidence, it would be

considered in his favour when it came to his prosecution. In an extreme case,

he may even dislike Goring for some reason and decide to seek revenge by making

up evidence. Therefore these two pieces of evidence do not prove that

Goring was behind the fire, and more evidence would be needed to be sure, such

as more confessions and other evidence. Although Goring is also trying to save his skin as he is

also on trial. It is likely that he is telling the truth and did not start the

fire. I do not think such a high-ranking official would do a job as risky,

?dirty? and apparently easy as that, when he could just easily get someone else

to do it.?6. Source H actively suggests that the Nazis did not plan fire at all;

this was because they were not ready for it. With their out of date lists and

badly planned arrests, the response to the fire was not nearly as successful as

it should have been had the Nazis expected it. If the Nazis had really

organised the fire, they would surely have made ample preparations beforehand;

even if the operation was only known to few people, those people could have

given discreet orders to collect intelligence and give excuses to prepare for

an uprising. However, source I makes out that Van Der Lubbe, could not possibly

have done it alone and on impulse, it explains that he could not have set fire

to the building so quickly especially without knowledge of the building and

being mentally and physically handicapped. Both sources are unlikely to be very

biased because they are from history books, however, the origin of these books

is unknown, a German or someone else thus altering the point of view could have

written them. Source J backs up source I in that it shows the extent of

the damage and implies that one man could not have acted alone, however it

could be showing the worst effected area and the rest of the building could be

unharmed. Also you would need more details such as what the room was made of

and contained to say that one man couldn?t have done it all.So in conclusion, none of them prove whether it was more or

less likely that the Nazis started the fire as they are all questionable and

sources I and H were written a whole 40 years afterwards and are likely to be

just one mans opinion.7. Source A suggests that Van Der Lubbe was

in fact a madman, and it had all been blown out of proportion by Hitler and

Goring. He describes how it would have been easy for Van Der Lubbe to set fire

to the Building because of the old furniture, the dry wood and curtains. The

nest source, Van Der Lubbe?s confession, also confirms this point. It seems

that Diels believed this confession after interviewing Van Der Lubbe at length.

Source C does not expresses the opinion that the Nazis were not responsible for

the fire but saw the opportunity to take dictatorship of the country. It is

however a satirical cartoon from the time and was taken from a British

magazine, this means that its reliability is a problem, but it does show the

views of another country at the time, which seem to be very wary of Hitler?s

actions. However, in terms of Van Der Lubbe, it believes that he was not part

of the Nazi?s plans. The book about the fire, source D, clearly suggests that

Van Der Lubbe was part of a communist uprising, however, it was just Nazi

propaganda and so it was just part of the Nazi plot to take power and eliminate

the communists. It also was used to get the backing of German people. Source E suggests that the fire was started by the Nazis,

the General Franz Halder explains the Goring confessed to starting the fire,

but he said that it was him in person who set fire to the building, this is

unlikely because it would be difficult for him to get away without anyone

knowing he was there, it was also at a party so it is likely that he was drunk

at the time which would have clouded the thinking of both of them. This

evidence was emphatically denied by Goring at the same trial, he said that he

didn?t set fire to the Reichstag, it is likely that he said this simply as a

lie to save himself, however neither of the sources are very reliable, so the

evidence is very unclear. Source G, published by the communists, suggests that the fire

was started by the SA, and that they used Van Der Lubbe as a decoy. This piece

of evidence was published after the death of Karl Ernst, which means that he

was unable to confirm or deny any of this confession, the whole text is very

doubtful. The whole text seems to be exactly what the communists need to redeem

themselves, and there is absolutely no evidence that he had ever confessed.

Source H backs up the first theory, it is a text published long after the

incident and by a historian who should have studied all the evidence. This

fully supports the idea that the fire was started by Van Der Lubbe, and that

the Nazis had genuinely believed that it was the start of a communist uprising

and reacted as they saw fit. However, the next source suggests that Lubbe would

have needed help, this is a direct contradiction to the first source (A), but

it does not mention if communists or Nazis helped him. In addition, the final

source simply seems to back source I up, and has no suggestion of who caused

the damage. The fact that the fire happened one week before elections

held by the Nazis is very coincidental, it meant that Hitler was able to take

power much more easily as he convinced the voters that the communist were about

to take over. This would suggest that Hitler was behind the fire to help his

own election bid. Therefore, I think that the Nazis started the Reichstag fire,

so they could take power and crush all their opposition as there is more

reliable evidence to support this theory. But some of the evidence could lead

me to believe that Van Der Lubbe was alone in setting the fire. There has been

so much disagreement over the Reichstag fire because of the different stories

and accounts that were put forward. The main two were the arguments between the

communists and the Nazis. Ever since communism was being exported from Russia,

other Capitalist states have feared the effects of its policies. It was no

different in Germany, the Nazi party were essentially a capitalist party and

saw all other parties as a threat, especially the communists because they were

the ones prepared to fight for their beliefs, they also had an enormous

following. Despite the conclusion I have come to myself, that the

Nazis did it, it will always be nearly impossible to come to any universally

accepted conclusion as there have been so many different accounts of the fire

and nearly all of them are unreliable in their own right. I do not think the

mystery will ever be solved.

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