To days date of 27th of February: In 1933, The Reichstag fire started which was an arson attack on the Parliament building in Berlin. Evidence that the National Socialists would have been behind the fire is based on “evidence” fabricated by communists.
Around 9 pm on February 27, 1933, the Berlin fire department received an alarm that the Parliament House was set on fire. The Parliament House had been destroyed to a large extent and it soon became clear that the fire had been planted. The police started an investigation which led to the arrest of a Dutch communist by the name of Marinus van der Lubbe.
In July 1933, Marinus van der Lubbe and four other communists were prosecuted, and in September the trial was held at the Supreme Court in Leipzig. One of the defendants was Ernst Torgler, leader of the German Communist Party (KPD) and was seated in the Reichstag. The others were Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov, and Vassil Tanev, all of whom belonged to the Bulgarian Communist Party. They were charged with arson and the attempt to overthrow the government.
The Leipzig trial ended with Marinus van der Lubbe being declared guilty and sentenced to death. The other four Communists were released. Judge Wilhelm Bürger emphasized in his judgment that he was convinced that there had been a communist conspiracy to burn down the parliament building, but that there was not enough evidence, except for van der Lubbe. In the table talk, Hitler commented on the KPD leader Ernst Torgler: “I am convinced that he was responsible for the parliamentary fire, but I cannot prove it.“
One common opinion that is spread in different documentaries about the National Socialist Germany, or in other media, is that the National Socialists themselves would have been behind the fire, partly because it would act as an incentive to ban the Communist Party.
One who did not share this view was Ernst Hanfstaengel, who was a kind of PR man for Hitler before moving to the US and became an anti-nazi under Roosevelt. In his book The Unknown Hitler, was very critical of the Third Reich and its prominent people, especially Joseph Goebbels. It was Hanfstaengel who warned Goebbels about the fire, which at this time had dinner with Hitler. Hanfstaengel writes in the book:
At the same time, the housekeeper, Mrs Wanda, plunged into the room. “Doctor Hanfstaengel”, she shouted, “the Parliament House stands in flames!” I took a leap out of bed and plunged to the window that faced out to the square. And quite rightly – the huge building was in flames. I immediately called Goebbels: “I must speak to Mr Hitler immediately,” I said breathlessly. Goebbels wondered what was going on and if there was nothing he could do. In the end, I completely lost my patience: “Tell him that the Reichstag House is burning!” Is that supposed to be a joke, Hanfstaengel? “Goebbels wondered in his tone.
The case is that Hanfstaengel was a well-known joker and that only a few days earlier he had pranked called. Because of this, Goebbels did not believe in him nor did he care to inform Hitler. Only after another person had called and confirmed the news, Goebbels spoke to Hitler and then called back to Hanfstaengel to get “clear information about what has happened”. Then Goebbels called the local police station and when it became clear that the Parliament House was really on fire, one immediately went to the place. Hanfstaengel, who thought that Goebbels was a “consummate liar”, nevertheless writes in his book: “But if I ever heard the indignation and mistrust come absolutely genuine in a voice, then it was certainly in Goebbels’ voice that night“.
When the British historian David Irving got hold of Goebbel’s diaries, in 1992, it appeared that Goebbels had mentioned the Reichstag fire. Irving writes about this in his Goebbels biography in the chapter “The Big Lie”:
Afterwards, the world press claimed that the Nazis themselves had started the fire. With the author’s discovery of Goebbels missing diary entries in Moscow, this version (see: above) can finally be considered denied. He, Hitler and Göring were equally shocked by the news.
Joseph Goebbels writes the following in the journal with Irving’s English translation:
At nine P.M. Hitler and Auwi come over. Music and gossip. Then Hanfstaengl phones: says the Reichstag’s burning. What an imagination! But turns out to be true. Race straight down there with Hitler. The entire building a mass of flames. [We] go in. Göring follows. Papen, whose acquaintance I thus make, is also there. Thirty arson sites. Fires set by the communists. Göring rampant, Hitler raging, Papen clear-headed. The main assembly chamber a picture of devastation. So take action now! … To work! Hitler consults with Papen. We meet back at the Kaiserhof. Everybody beaming. This was the last straw. Now we’re well away. Culprit caught, a twenty-four-year-old Dutch communist.