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The Reichstag Fire Essay

2400 words - 10 pages

The Reichstag Fire

1. Source A was written by Rudolf Diels, who was the head of the Prussian political police at the time of the fire. In his account of events, he explains that he caught Van Der Lubbe red handed, the suspect was alone and there was no evidence that he could see that involved other people, even other communists. He strongly disagreed with Goring and Hitler's theory that Van Der Lubbe was aided in some way, and that the whole affair was a communist plot to seize power. 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. Unfortunately, Van Der Lubbe is not a reliable source as he could be protecting any amount of people; there is also evidence that he was mentally unstable, and this means that his evidence is even more unreliable.

2. 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 wasn't 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...

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