The Myth circling ‘The Reichstag Fire’

The Reichstag fire has been misattributed to a Nazi-conceived plot but it did act as a catalyst to the Nazi’s gaining power. Call it a lucky means, if you will but from where I am standing I can only see it as a strategy. The Nazis were a class apart, amongst all the great military leaders that Germany has spurned out, because they knew how to turn a disadvantaged situation to an advantage for them: it wasn’t so much as exploiting economic recession to gain a strong foothold of power, as it was about exploiting betrayal at war, treaties signed post-war, to turn the tide of support for them.

Nazi Germany is a crucial part of our history and one particular event that often escapes everyone’s memory, is the Reichstag fire. Most historians are concerned with the Holocaust, and the events that transpired during the episode: from doling out yellow stars to segregate the population, and victimise innocent people, such as Anne Frank, to constructing Auschwitz, simply to accommodate the large numbers of Jews that had accumulated across Europe. Nazi Germany has particularly fascinated many at home, so much, that other periods of German history, such as Anglo Saxons, the Roman Empire, almost entirely takes a back seat.

To me particularly, it is just as fascinating as every other episode of German history and I cannot tolerate when anyone tries to vilify it, due to the constraints illiteracy has placed them under. It is primarily just that: they cannot see the difference, the structure of how things worked in the Nazi Empire and why but wants to have an opinion. How do you argue with something like that? You don’t. That would be the French and the Spanish, having trouble yet again, controlling their massive empires. Adolf Hitler was appointed as the Chancellor of Germany amidst a lot of political uncertainty on January 30th. But the Nazi party did not have any parliamentary majority, because although they had allied themselves with the Nationalists, it still couldn’t fill the figures. The Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, was dissolved, as a result, and the party proceeded with a thunderous electoral campaign.

Although, unsure of how far they would go, they needed to scare people, but just the Communists. Why? Because the Communists, decided to rage a revolution, planned it, and wanted to seize power really badly. Most workers in Germany were unemployed, there was practically no democracy present, so you can imagine how bad the situation was for the country, and there wasn’t even any constructive power in place, that was strong enough to fend off foreign influence. The Communists only progressed through the support of some handful of million voters, and the Soviet Union, and it was not looked at as a pleasant situation that Marxism no longer inspired the crowd. So, what to do? Ask help from the Soviet Union! That’s what to do! But the Germans, almost unequivocally decided to move towards a more peaceful means of living, despite the economic recession.

In Prussia, the Communists decided upon themselves to use violence as a political instrument, rather than debate over how to work things out. There would be dangerous party meetings by the Communists, late into the night, without any reason, at the Reichstag but that wasn’t enough: on February 27, the Reichstag building was set on fire by the Communist, or should I say one Dutch communist in particular, Marinus Van der Lubbe. After his subsequent arrest, he conceded to the statement that the fire on the German parliament was meant to be a call to revolt. He claimed to have done it on his own, but expert evidence pointed towards a group effort.

However, the Communists spread out massive propaganda outside of the trial, that the Nazis had set fire to the German parliament, stating that the Communists had done it, was an elaborate hoax. I’m afraid the myth has stuck since then. Marxist propaganda was subsequently suppressed in the country, through an instruction from president Hindenburg, who believed in Adolf Hitler, with a lot of trepidation, but wasn’t a Nazi himself. There was widespread fear of the consequences of another Communist revolution.

It seems so hard to fathom that a lie can precede over the truth, with such force in certain quarters, with better and louder pipe organs, but the last couple of decades has seen just that. I suppose it would be the easy way out to point the needle of blame towards the Nazi Party, because that might as well be the only explanation as to how such a weak party, rose to such prominence, without much proper peer support, and then fell again spectacularly in the Soviet Union, but some party circles believed it. Can you imagine that?

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