Reichtag fire and Hitler

Analysering av brannen i reichtag (det tyske "stortinget") og årsakene til Hitlers suksess (svar på IGCSE coursework 2001/2002 oppgaver).
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The decision by Papen and Hindenburg to appoint him as Chancellor in 1933 contributed Hitler’s rise to power because it legally made him to power. It is very important that he is legally made to power, because now he can distribute his voice to the whole Germany. It also provided him a government which he could rule and get rid of the Communist party which was the second biggest power. He can now make his master plan, Mein Kampf and the world domination plan. It is just to follow his tactics and plans left. He can step to complete Nazi takeover of Germany which was the essence of his raise to power. The chancellor position enables him to dismiss anyone who was against him, which made a lot easier to become a dictator. When Hitler became counselor, he got Hindenburg to dissolve the parliament and KPD to shut down. The Nazis can finally take control of Prussia. After Hitler became counselor the terror really begins. Before that he was only a man with a big mouth. The appointment gave Hitler the power, force and stature he needed.


However, the decision alone did not contribute Hitler to power. Other important factors such as the Depressions, his oratory, the big business support, the massive propaganda, opposition weakness, the enabling law and other reasons also had big role to play in his raise of power.

The Depression has made Germans mad about the real leaders. Those who do not understand the situation, blames on the Weimer. Hitler, who is talented in his oratory, can use this great opportunity to force the government down and take away their support to his own support. People like his voice and appeals, they naturally vote for Hitler.


The timing and Hitler’s oratory also worked together for Hitler’s chance to become a Chancellor. Bruning chose Hitler because he was the last option for the falling government. And If Bruning did not want to retire, he will not point out a new leader. Bruning saw that Hitler was a great speaker, therefore he chose him. Popularity was important. His oratory also gave him faithful counselors who secured him a second election. We can see that his oratory was not enough, he was lacking of political insight, which was also one of the reason Hitler was defeated by Hindenburg in the first election.



Hitler’s oratory, personality and leadership are long-term causes which interact with all the causes in the list. First when Drexler noticed Hitler’s great oratory, he put Hitler in charge of propaganda and political ideas of the party, which changed the definition of Nazis. The Twenty Five Point programme was created, because Drexler looked up his personality. If the Treaty of Versailles did not exist, the abolition of it would not be abused as Hitler’s weapon against the Allies and the ‘November Criminals’. His leadership have given the Nazis a much higher profile than is was. He used his personality without conscience to remove Drexler, and his oratory power to attract attention, brainwash his members, and make all Germans to strongly condemn the Allies, the Versailles Treaty, the Communists, the ‘November criminals’ and the Jews without true arguments.


The Treaty of Versailles is a long-term cause. It was already hated in peoples mind, and Hitler strengthened the hate. The Treaty of Versailles goes with the economic depression. There were both to be blamed for. Both were great opportunity for Hitler to get people’s support. Because those who suffered from Versailles Treaty and Depression were all Germans.

The Munich Putsch in 1923 was a short-term cause which made Hitler to a star. But it is different in many ways, because it did not went smoothly as he expected. Even it went to a catastrophe it turned out to be a marvelous propaganda triumph for him. Among the nationalists , he is seemed as hero. Again his oratory and personality saved him from getting killed by the police and spending his rest of his life in Landsberg jail. The Versailles Treaty was also one of the reason he escaped the punishment. In the Munich Putsch his leadership and personality was very important. If he was not persuasive enough, how could he call off his brownshirts to hijack the local government, take over the official buildings and cheat on his old friend, hero Ludendorff? The Munich Putsch seems like one of Hitler’s plan to rise up to power. But it was actually a unconscious plan, which lead to another plan, Mein Kampf. Munich Putsch gave Hitler more experience, wisdom and matureness. It gave him time to get calm, develop his philosophy and his plan. He learned that propaganda is very important to get people support and to think in the same way as him.

The economic depression is a long-term cause. It contributed Hitler’s rise to power because it increased Nazi seats in the Reichstag and won Germans’ heart. It is similar to the Treaty of Versailles because it was both depressive and unavoidable. People were suffering from unemployment, hunger and homelessness. Their misery and hunger aided Nazis’ support increase rapidly. The poor people got promised bread, work and hope. The poor people also felt betrayed by the Republic, so Hitler promised revenge, his champion duplicate. It was to hit to flies in once, he got a good reason to beat up Weimar with a whole population backing him. This reason is different from other causes, because it was not caused by Germany it self, but Germany had impact on the depression because of the debts.


The decision by Papen and Hindenburg is a short-term cause (see 1.). This is different from all the others because, this time, it was because of his strong personality that Hindenburg doubted for a period. It would not work as well, if he did not achieve support in fore hand. And his big support is caused by the Treaty of Versailles, the Munich Putsch, the depression and his oratory (propaganda).

The enabling law is an important short-term cause which interacts with the appointment as a counselor and his oratory which caused him electoral success. There is no way to dictatorship, if he was not appointed to counselor at first. Everything he say and do now, is right, because he is making the rules, he is the God. The enabling law destroyed parliamentary democracy and all other political parties which Hitler found useless. Mein Kampf is now practiced in real. Jews and opponents are swept away, followed by the independent trade unions, and all other parties. There was no chance for anybody to fight against Hitler any longer. This act was the last step for Hitler.



Hitler’s oratory, personality and leadership are more important than any other causes because all other reasons need his abilities to success (see 1, 2). His literal thinking, courage, and words influence everybody. He had control on his audience’s feelings. That is how he unites his companions. If it was not for his personality he will not become an absolute ruler. If it was not for his personality he will not use nasty tricks to come to power. His oratory was like a magnet to people, he did not only magnetized support, but also membership of the Party, the ex-soldiers and outlawed Freikorps to create the faithful SA, the seats, the electoral success and then the whole Germany to live and die for him. It is essential that a dictator masters public speeches, acts determined and have control. His skills secure him unmovable position.

If it was not for his oratory he could not use the Versailles treaty, the depression to get support and go against Weimar with good reasons. One thing leads to another. If he did not got support he would not be certain enough to ‘Munich Putsch’. If he did not win support Hindenburg might not choose him at all. And if he did not have cruel intentions, laws that are followed by the Enabling Law in 1933 might not be as cruel and exterminative as their were. If it was not for his strong, unmovable leadership, he would not success in the Nazis when he joined, and not talking about ruling Germany and Second World War.

However, we should not isolate the reason. As mentioned above, his skills have to work with the timing, events, and opportunities. But what makes this reason so important is, it does not only contribute his rise to power, but also keeps him in power.




B supports A, but not very weakly. Both A and B agree that Van der Lubbe set the fire in Reichstag and Communists defendant was in the trial and that Van der Lubbe confessed several times, all voluntary. But Van der Lubbe denies that they were in the Reichstag, while Rudolf Diels states that they might take part in the Reichstag, here they disagree. Diels is unsure about if it was only van der Lubbe or  other Communists taking part in this. First he said that he believes that he was alone, in the next paragraph he got details that suggest that more than one person started this fire, immediately the whole 1st paragraph must be cancelled. This shows how irresponsible Rudolf Diels is with his words.

A is much more detailed than B, yet B was stated right after the fire while A is 12 years (or more) after the fire. The year and the details do not fit together. B does not have so many opinions and details as A. A and B are both very different, because B (Van der Lubbe ) is protecting the Communists , while A points negative to the Communists and blames on them.

When A is describing the speaker of B, it mentioned how he looks like, his confused stories but B did not mentioned his feelings at all.

The speaker in B will certainly not agree with A because the writer of A killed many Communists. They are two extremes.



The fact that the account is written so long after the event, means that A is not completely reliable. Rudolf Diels is using his own opinions which are not based on facts. Uncertain words such as “...made me believe...”, “He could…” and “might” are used in this important account, which makes this unreliable account more unreliable. There are also too many own opinions from his side of view (not his point of view) such as ‘This is something really cunning, prepared long time ago. The criminals have though all this out beautifully; but they have made a big mistake’. When Hitler says criminals, he did not mean van der Lubbe alone, but all Communists. The mistake he mentioned must be; even if Lubbe will take all the responsibility, Communists will be banned and arrested anyway. Hitler blames on the Communists.

Details that Diels states can not be proven, “There was a wild, triumphant gleam in the eyes of his pale, young face”, how could he have such detailed images? We can not judge van der Lubbe as the criminal through A, there are many points which are not reliable.


If Rudolf Diels thinks that he is a madman, how can we believe on what a madman says? Since Göring was shouting that there are no chance for Communists to overcome this catastrophe, they and their supporters have to die, young van der Lubbe as a great Communist certainly don’t want his innocent companions to die. Diels also states that Hitler strongly disagree that Lubbe is a madman, than Hitler must agree that Lubbe is a smart and brave man who take this decision. If van der Lubbe really is guilty, he should come with more evidence and details, than only one sentence, and repeated several times ‘…I set the fire to the Reichstag all by my self’. If Diels speculates that he set fire to the old furniture, I can also speculate that van der Lubbe wanted to scarify one, himself, in change of thousands of other Communists.

It is impossible for one man who does not know about the building to start several dozen fires in different places, and it is described as hectic. If Lubbe wants to start a fire, would it not be much easier for him to escape, if he started the fire outside the building?  At least not in several different places in the building. If so, he would well take a partner with him? Would not it be way too stupid to start a fire with his own shirt? Firstly, he may wants to wear it, secondly he know he is leaving evidence.


Diels acts neutral in the whole case, but the fact is that he was the head of the Prussian political police which his job was to take Göring’s orders. Diels himself was not sure what he was doing, was right when Göring ordered him to shoot and kill. All happened so quickly, he just think that it was mad. ‘Shoot to kill’ could be Gröing’s plan to destroy the eye-witnesses. Göring could have used him to produce evidence for his plan to blame on Lubbe.

So, A is not reliable, if it was to show that Lubbe is guilty, but A could be reliable as what Diels felt and saw that moment.



The Nazis would want to publish a book like ‘Armed Uprising’ because they want to make everyone believe that van der Lubbe set fire on Reichstag. They want people to hate the Communists, and understand the consequences of being a communist. Just the cover would be a strong propaganda warning people not to be communist; they get executed as in the pictures. Or, they want to warn people that this is how it would look like if Communism came to power.

The Reichstag link with the title ‘Armed Uprising’, Nazis wants to make Germans thinks that Communists wants war, they want to destroy. Nazis don’t want Communist takeover.

The Nazis might also wants to do it like what Hitler did, write a book describing his nationalistic ideas, and struggle against Communism. They might describe how harmful Communists are, like pests and Jews and develop the idea of that Communist will take away their land and nationalize their industries. So businessman, farmers and industrial owners would go to the Nazis side, eventually, they will also think that Reichstag was caused by Communists.

When the Nazis saw how well Mein Kampf sold when they were in power, they can use this chance to contribute another older idea. Even the situation is that Nazis are taking over, the Nazis still wants to secure that Communism will not grow. They do not want German trade unions. If all the landowners and industrialists see this threat coming, they will financially back up the Nazis, which make them even more powerful.

In 1933 the second Five Year Plan started in USSR. USSR is modernizing in all fields, agriculture, industry, transport and communication. They are afraid that they will influence new communists growing in Germany.



Yes, E and G prove that Göring was telling lies, because General Franz would not give out fake evidence when he knows that he is being tried for war crimes. If he wants to protect himself, he would not give out this evidence, he would keep this secrete because he wants to protect the Nazis, but now as the Nazis is gone, he have to tell the truth. He would also not give out this evidence, when he is risking of execution. All he can do is to tell all he knows.

G proves it, because Ernst would not confess if he was alive, when he is dead it does not matter. ‘Ernst had been killed in the Night of the Long Knives’, but Ernst has no connection with Röhm, so, Ernst could be killed because Hitler wants to remove all evidence. But since it is published by the Communists, the communists could make it up to prove Lubbe’s innocent.

One of the things that makes G reliable even is it produced by the Communists is that there is an underground passage leading from Göring’s house to the Reichstag. If the passage was not used for the fire-plot, what else could it be used for? Must be other secrete crimes.

Göring in his trial was too definite that it seems like a lie. In E, Göring is triumphing over his work in Hitler’s birthday party. It does seem naturally to do that in front of his boss in a happy conversation. Despite everything, Hitler and Göring was at the top in 1943 with Final Solution, Reichstag was already forgotten by the people, the people admired Hitler.


Also Göring’s lines in the arrival in the burning Reichstag (A) sounds like that he already knows what to say, and those lines fits perfectly with Hitler’s line. ‘There will be no mercy now. Any one who stands in our way will be cut down. Every Communist will be shot or hanged. Everybody supporting the Communists must be arrested’, it shows that Gröning already knows who to blame, because it was already planned. Then Hitler replies Diels with a sentence that says that it was not just Lubbe but his enemies, Communists :’ This is something really cunning, prepared a long time ago. The criminals have though all this out beautifully; but they have made a big mistake.’


Either E or F must be lying. Even confession is published only 1 year after the tragic, nobody cared about this book because there were no freedom of speech any longer because of the ‘Decree for the Protection of the People and the State’ was signed only 1 day after the fire. Opposition would be eliminated without a noise. If E is true, it does mean that the 3 other SA men is killed, Ernst is one of them, that is why Göring is the only one who knows.

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