Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reichstag Fire

On page 191, I started to read about the Reichstag fire and the power that Hitler was able to fenagal after it. I am now on page 200 so this is a tidbit of what I have read so far:

That it was a crime, a Communist crime, they proclaimed at once on arrival at the fire. Goering, sweating and puffing and quite beside himself with excitement, was already there ahead of them declaiming to heaven, as Papen later recalled, that “this is a Communist crime against the new government.” To the Gestapo chief, Rudolf Diels, Goering shouted, “This is the beginning of the Communist revolution! We must not wait a minute. We will show no mercy. Every Communist official must be shot, where he is found. Every Communist deputy must this very night be strung up.”

At the same time a half witted Dutch Communist with a passion for arson, Marinus Van Der Lubbe, had made his way into the huge, darkened and to him unfamiliar building and set some small fires of his own. This feeble minded pyromaniac was a godsend for the Nazis. He had been picked up by the S.A. a few days before after having been overheard in a bar boasting that he had attempted to set fire to several buildings and that he was going to try the Reichstag next.

Van der Lubbe, it seems clear, was a dupe of the Nazis. He was encouraged to try to set the Reichstag on fire. But the main job was to be done- without his knowledge, of course-by the storm troopers. Indeed, it was established at the subsequent trial at Leipzig that the Dutch half-wit did not possess the means to set so vast a building on fire so quickly. Two and a half minutes after he entered, the great central hall was fiercely burning. He had only his shirt for tinder. The main fires, according to the testimonies of experts at the trial, had been set with considerable quantities of chemicals and gasoline. It was obvious that one man could not have carried them into the building, nor would it have been possible for him to start so many fires in so many scattered places in so short a time.

Van der Lubbe was found guilty and decapitated.

On the day following the fire, Feb. 28th, Hitler prevailed on President Hindenburg to sign a decree “for the Protection of the People and the State” suspending the seven sections of the constitution which guaranteed individual and civil liberties. Described as a “defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state,” the decree laid down that:
“Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.”
In addition, the decree authorized the Reich government to take over complete power in the federal states when necessary and imposed the death sentence for a number of crimes, including “serious disturbances of the peace” by armed persons.

To me, in my opinion, this sounds a lot like what happened on 9-11 and the following days in which the Patriot Act I was passed with intimidation tactics. It is very easy to see, if you believe that this is possable, that if GW Bush (A stout historian) has studied this topic, he could use the same tactics on the American people. The amount of power he has attained since 9-11 is unprecidented in American history and I am sure will not likely bee seen again. Well...Hopefully at least.

Lets hear what you think.