The Reichstag Fire: Was it Really a False Flag?

On 31st January, 1933, Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary about the plans to deal with the German Communist Party (KPD):

“During discussions with the Führer we drew up the plans of battle against the red terror. For the time being, we decided against any direct counter-measures. The Bolshevik rebellion must first of all flare up; only then shall we hit back.” (1)

On 24th February, the Gestapo raided Communist headquarters. Hermann Göring claimed that he had found “barrels of incriminating material concerning plans for a world revolution”. (2) However, the alleged subversive documents were never published and it is assumed that in reality the Nazi government had not discovered anything of any importance. (3)

Three days after the KPD raid, the Reichstag building caught fire. It was reported at ten o’clock when a Berlin resident telephoned the police and said: “The dome of the Reichstag building is burning in brilliant flames.” The Berlin Fire Department arrived minutes later and although the main structure was fireproof, the wood-paneled halls and rooms were already burning. (4)

Following advise of some German historians who were friendly to him, WWII author and diligent researcher David Irving was able to find the private diary of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, microfilmed on eighteen hundred glass plates. [See: D. Irving, “The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels Papers,” March–April 1993 Journal, pp. 14–25.] He writes of his discovering the handwritten entry for the Reichstag fire:

For example, I read for the first time Goebbels’ hand-written entry about the Reichstag fire. As he described it, he was at his home with Hitler on that evening of February 27, 1933, when the phone rang at nine o’clock. It was the prankster “Putzi” Hanfstaengl, saying: “The Reichstag’s on fire.” Goebbels remembered that he’d been had twice by Hanfstaengl already that week, and he thought this was another prank, so he just put the phone down. Hanfstaengl phoned again and said, “You’d better listen to what I’m saying, The Reichstag’s on fire.” Goebbels realized this could be serious after all, so he made a phone call to the police station at the Brandenburg Gate, which confirmed that the Reichstag was on fire. Thereupon he and Hitler jumped into a car and drove straight to the Reichstag where they found their worst fears confirmed. This is in the hand-written diary, it is obviously genuine, and it confirms what we know from other sources.

If Goebbels was surprised by the fire and was as close of an advisor and trusted friend to Hitler as we’ve come to understand, surely Hitler would have let him in on the false flag, unless it was not a false flag at all.

Göring, who had been at work in the nearby Prussian Ministry of the Interior, was quickly on the scene. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels arrived soon after. So also did Rudolf Diels: “Shortly after my arrival in the burning Reichstag, the National Socialist elite had arrived. On a balcony jutting out of the chamber, Hitler and his trusty followers were assembled.” Göring told him: “This is the beginning of the Communist Revolt, they will start their attack now! Not a moment must be lost. There will be no mercy now. Anyone who stands in our way will be cut down. The German people will not tolerate leniency. Every communist official will be shot where he is found. Everybody in league with the Communists must be arrested. There will also no longer be leniency for social democrats.” (5)

Testimony in the Nuremburg trials (Nazi general Franz Halder) revealed that the fire was coordinated by Hermann Goring, a leading member of the Nazi party. The fire was alleged to have been a Nazi party false flag used as evidence that the Communists were beginning a plot against the German government.

Dennis Wise (Filmmaker of ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’):

Halder’s (Nuremburg) testimony could have been coerced or exchanged for immunity as many testimonies were shown to have been. Following the fire certain measures or restrictions were put into practice but that is not proof. It would be just as easy to make a case for a communist plot. The National Socialists finally gained power after years of struggle. When Hitler first joined the NSDAP with not much more than a roomful of members, there were 6 million Communists in Germany who saw Hitler as a joke. Once he gained power, there were plenty capable of burning down the Reichstag out of hatred, frustration and anger.

Following advise of some German historians who were friendly to him, WWII author and diligent researcher David Irving was able to find the private diary of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, microfilmed on eighteen hundred glass plates. [See: D. Irving, “The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels Papers,” March–April 1993 Journal, pp. 14–25.] He writes of his discovering the handwritten entry for the Reichstag fire:

For example, I read for the first time Goebbels’ hand-written entry about the Reichstag fire. As he described it, he was at his home with Hitler on that evening of February 27, 1933, when the phone rang at nine o’clock. It was the prankster “Putzi” Hanfstaengl, saying: “The Reichstag’s on fire.” Goebbels remembered that he’d been had twice by Hanfstaengl already that week, and he thought this was another prank, so he just put the phone down. Hanfstaengl phoned again and said, “You’d better listen to what I’m saying, The Reichstag’s on fire.” Goebbels realized this could be serious after all, so he made a phone call to the police station at the Brandenburg Gate, which confirmed that the Reichstag was on fire. Thereupon he and Hitler jumped into a car and drove straight to the Reichstag where they found their worst fears confirmed. This is in the hand-written diary, it is obviously genuine, and it confirms what we know from other sources.

Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels at the scene of the fire (28th February, 1933)

If Goebbels was surprised by the fire and was as close of an advisor and trusted friend to Hitler as we’ve come to understand, surely Hitler would have let him in on the false flag, unless it was not a false flag at all.

Hitler gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD) should “be hanged that very night.” Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take “dictatorial powers”. Orders were given for all KPD members of the Reichstag to be arrested. This included Ernst Torgler, the chairman of the KPD. Göring commented that “the record of Communist crimes was already so long and their offence so atrocious that I was in any case resolved to use all the powers at my disposal in order ruthlessly to wipe out this plague”. (6)

Torgler was interviewed by the Gestapo. He was able to give details of having left the Reichstag building at 8.15 p.m. and arriving at the Aschinger Restaurant at 8.30 p.m. Witnesses confirmed this but his alibi was rejected and he was placed in custody and for the next seven months he was “fettered day and night”. (7) Torgler complained: “It was left to the warders’ discretion either to tighten our chains until the blood circulation was gravely impeded, and the skin broke, or else to take pity on us and to loosen the chains by one notch.” (8)

Hitler told Franz von Papen: “This is a God-given signal, Herr Vice-Chancellor! If this fire, as I believe, is the work of the Communists, that we must crush out this murderous pest with an iron fist.” Hitler claimed that this was clearly an attempted coup and that leading members of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) should also be arrested. (9) Seftan Delmer claimed he heard Hitler say: “God grant that this is the work of the Communists. You are witnessing the beginning of a great new epoch in German history. This fire is the beginning…. You see this flaming building, If this Communist spirit got hold of Europe for but two months it would be all aflame like this building.” (10)

Marinus van der Lubbe

Marinus van der Lubbe

Göring informed Hitler, Goebbels and Diels that Marinus van der Lubbe had been arrested in the building. He was a 24 year-old vagrant. He was born in Leiden, on 13th January, 1909. His father was a heavy drinker who left the family when he was seven years old. His mother died five years later. He was then raised by an older sister and was brought up in extreme poverty. After leaving school Lubbe worked as a bricklayer but after an industrial accident in 1925 he spent five months in hospital. He never fully recovered from his injuries and was now unable to work and had to live on a small invalidity pension. (11)

Van der Lubbe was immediately interviewed by the Gestapo. According to Rudolf Diels: “A few of my department were already engaged in interrogating Marinus Van der Lubbe. Naked from the waist upwards, smeared with dirt and sweating, he sat in front of them, breathing heavily. He panted as if he had completed a tremendous task. There was a wild triumphant gleam in the burning eyes of his pale, haggard young face.” (12)

Detective-Inspector Walter Zirpins carried out the original investigation. At about 9.03 p.m., Hans Flöter, a young theology student, was walking past the south-western corner of the dark and deserted Reichstag when he heard the sound of breaking glass. When he turned round he saw a man with a burning object in his hand. He raced off and found a police officer, Sergeant Karl Buwert. When the two men reached the scene of the crime, they could see a man rushing from window waving a flaming torch.

Buwert was joined by several other policemen and eventually entered the building. It was Constable Helmut Poeschel who arrested van der Lubbe at 9.27. He later reported that he “was a tall, well-built young man, completely out of breath and dishevelled”. Poeschel searched him and all he found was a “pocket knife, a wallet, and a passport”. (13)

Marinus Van der Lubbe was interviewed by Zirpins. He admitted setting fire to the Reichstag but claimed that he had no connections with the German Communist Party (KPD) or the Social Democratic Party (SDP). However, back home in Leiden, he had supported a tiny Dutch political group called the “Rade or International Communists”. On his arrival in Germany he talked to many people and was shocked to discover that the “workers will do nothing against a system which grants freedom to one side and metes out oppression to the other”. He decided that since “the workers would do nothing, I had to do something by myself”. (14)

Van der Lubbe took Detective-Inspector Helmut Heisig back to the Reichstag building. “Van der Lubbe led us. We neither indicated the direction nor influenced him in any way. He was almost delighted to show us the path he had taken. He said he had an excellent sense of direction because of his poor eyesight. Another sense had taken the place of his eyes.” (15)

Foreign newspapers reported that the Nazi government had probably been behind the fire. Willi Frischauer, the Berlin correspondent for the Vienna newspaper, Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung, commented that on the night of the fire that he believed that the Nazis where behind the fire: “There can scarcely be any doubt that the fire which is now destroying the Reichstag was set by henchmen of the Hitler government. By all appearances, the arsonists used an underground passage connecting the Reichstag to the palace of its president, Hermann Göring.” (16)

This view was shared by the British journalist, Seftan Delmer: “The arson of the German parliament building was allegedly the work of a Communist-sympathizing Dutchman, van der Lubbe. More probably, the fire was started by the Nazis, who used the incident as a pretext to outlaw political opposition and impose dictatorship… The fire broke out at 9.45 tonight in the Assembly Hall of the Reichstag. It had been laid in five different comers and there is no doubt whatever that it was the handiwork of incendiaries.” (17)

According to the first person who interviewed Marinus van der Lubbe he was “as silent as a wall” and that he was either “an idiot or one cool customer”. Eventually the young Dutchman admitted that he had set fire to the Reichstag with firelighters and his own clothing. “The first fire went out. Then I lit my shirt on fire and carried it farther. I went through five rooms.” (19)

Van der Lubbe denied that he was part of a Communist conspiracy and had no connections with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) or German Communist Party (KPD). He insisted that he acted alone and the burning of the Reichstag was his own idea. He went on to claim, “I do nothing for other people, all for myself. No one was for setting the fire.” However, he hoped that his act of arson would lead the revolution. “The workers should rebel against the state order. The workers should think that it is a symbol for a common uprising against the state order.” (20) Hermann Göring, who was in control of the investigation, ignored what van der Lubbe had said and on 28th February, he made a statement stating that he had prevented a communist uprising. (21)

On 3rd March, van der Lubbe made a full confession: “I myself am a Leftist, and was a member of the Communist Party until 1929. I had heard that a Communist demonstration was disbanded by the leaders on the approach of the police. In my opinion something absolutely had to be done in protest against this system. Since the workers would do nothing, I had to do something myself. I considered arson a suitable method. I did not wish to harm private people but something belonging to the system itself. I decided on the Reichstag. As to the question of whether I acted alone, I declare emphatically that this was the case.” (22)

Ian Kershaw has suggested that Lubbe was motivated by a sense of injustice: “He was… a solitary individual, unconnected with any political groups, but possessed of a strong sense of injustice at the misery of the working class at the hands of the capitalist system. In particular, he was determined to make a lone and spectacular act of defiant protest at the Government… in order to galvanize the working class into struggle against their repression.” (23)

On 9th March, 1933, three Bulgarians, Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov and Vassili Tanev, were also arrested after a suspicious waiter informed the police that they had been acting strangely. Dimitrov had been a trade union activist before helping to form the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1919. Dimitrov went to live in the Soviet Union but in 1929 he moved to Berlin where he became head of the Central European section of Comintern. (24) However, the Nazi government was unaware that Dimitrov was one of the most important figures in the “international Communist movement”. (25)

Detective-Inspector Walter Zirpins became convinced that these men had told van der Lubbe to carry out the attack on the Reichstag. “I am convinced that he (Marinus van der Lubbe) did it all by himself… A man who is willing to carry out revolutionary intrigues on his own account is just what the Communist Party needs. In the Party’s hands, van der Lubbe became a willing tool, one who, while believing he was shifting for himself, was being shifted from behind the scenes. No wonder then that the Communist Party was so delighted to use him.” (26)

Ernst Torgler

On 23rd March, 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Bill. This banned the German Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party from taking part in future election campaigns. This was followed by Nazi officials being put in charge of all local government in the provinces (7th April), trades unions being abolished, their funds taken and their leaders put in prison (2nd May), and a law passed making the Nazi Party the only legal political party in Germany (14th July). (27)

Detective-Inspector Walter Zirpins, was given the job of interviewing people who came forward with information about the fire. He eventually came to the conclusion that he had enough evidence to charge Ernst Torgler. He claimed that “three eye-witnesses saw van der Lubbe in the company of Torgler… before the fire. In view of van der Lubbe’s striking appearance, it is impossible for all three to have been wrong.” (28)

While in prison awaiting trial Torgler was supplied with information that suggested that Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels and Ernst Röhm, were involved in starting the fire. He refused to believe the story: “Van der Lubbe and old acquaintance of Röhm and on his list of catamites? Could Goebbels really have planned the fire, and could Göring, standing, as it were, at the entrance of the underground tunnel, really have supervised the whole thing?” (29)

Kurt Rosenfeld, had been Torgler’s lawyer for many years. However, like other socialists and communists in Germany, fled the country when the Nazi government began arresting left-wing opponents of the regime and sending them to concentration camps. In August 1933, Torgler was forced to employ a lawyer, Alfons Sack, who was a member of the Nazi Party. (30)

Sack hesitated about defending Torgler as he was aware that if he did a good job, and his client was found not guilty, he faced the possibility of imprisonment. “I was concerned with only one question: is the man guilty or is he innocent? Only if I could be reasonably certain that Torgler had entered politics for idealistic reasons and not for selfish motives and that he had never made personal capital out of his political beliefs, would I find it within me to accept his defence.” Sack eventually came to the conclusion that Torgler was telling the truth. (31)

Reichstag Fire TrialThe trial of Marinus van der Lubbe, Ernst Torgler, Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov and Vassili Tanev began on 21st September, 1933. The presiding judge was Judge Dr. Wilhelm Bürger of the Supreme Court. The accused were charged with arson and with attempting to overthrow the government. (32)

Douglas Reed, a journalist working for The Times, described the defendants in court. “A being (Marinus van der Lubbe) of almost imbecile appearance, with a shock of tousled hair hanging far over his eyes, clad in the hideous dungarees of the convicted criminal, with chains around his waist and wrists, shambling with sunken head between his custodians – the incendiary taken in the act. Four men in decent civilian clothes, with intelligence written on every line of their features, who gazed somberly but levelly at their fellow men across the wooden railing which symbolized the great gulf fixed between captivity and freedom…. Torgler, last seen by many of those present railing at the Nazis from the tribune of the Reichstag, bore the marks of great suffering on his fine and sensitive face. Dimitrov, whose quality the Court had yet to learn, took his place as a free man among free men; there was nothing downcast in his bold and even defiant air. Little Tanev had not long since attempted suicide, and his appearance still showed what he had been through, Popov, as ever, was quiet and introspective.” (33)

On the opening day of the trial Ernst Torgler received a message from Wilhelm Pieck, the leader of the German Communist Party (KPD) in exile. It said that he was to take the first opportunity to “disown Dr. Sack as an agent of Hitler”. He was also told to state in court that Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels had set the Reichstag on fire. “I argued with myself for at least twenty-four hours. If I compiled, I would cause a sensation and that would make an extremely good headline. But what would happen to me?” Torgler concluded that if he did this he was “signing his own death warrant” and decided to allow Sack to defend him in court. (34)

The main witness against Torgler was Gustav Lebermann, who was at the time serving a prison sentence for theft and fraud. In court he alleged that he had first met Torgler in Hamburg on 25th October 1931. He was told to prepare for a “big job” in the future. On 6th March, 1933, Torgler offered him 14,000 marks, if he set fire to the Reichstag building. Lebermann claimed that when he refused Torgler punched him in the abdomen.

Torgler told the court: “All I can say regarding this evidence is how astonished I am that anyone should utter such lies before the highest Court of the land. I have never seen this man in my life. I have never been in Hamburg for any length of time, and when I did go to Hamburg it was merely to attend meetings of the Union of Post Office Workers… Not a single word the witness has spoken is true. Everything he says is a lie, from start to finish.” (35)

Berthold Karwahne, Stefan Kroyer and Kurt Frey all testified that they saw Torgler with Marinus van der Lubbe. However, they were all senior officials in the Nazi Party and very few people believed their stories. Torgler, claimed that the man they thought was Van der Lubbe, was a journalist, Walther Oehme. When he was interviewed by the Gestapo, he denied that he met Torgler at the time. However, on the 28th October, he testified that he had been wrong and had in fact, been with Torgler at the time he had originally stated. This incensed the Public Prosecutor, who realised that the court was now unlikely to convict him. (36)

Georgi Dimitrov constantly passed comments on proceedings. Fritz Tobias has commented: “The great pomp with which the trial was conducted did not impress Dimitrov for a single moment. His intelligence was razor-sharp and, unlike his two compatriots, he had a good command of the German language, and was therefore able to expose the prosecution’s case for the sham it was.” (37)

Dimitrov was first expelled for the first time on 6th October 1933. According to foreign press, he was ejected for “quite inexplicable reasons” or “on a ridiculous pretext”. He was actually removed for accusing the Gestapo for adding a cross over the Reichstag on a map he had purchased. The judge ruled that he had been taken from the court “for disobeying repeated admonitions to desist from insulting police officers”. (38)

Dimitrov persistently refused to allow his Government-nominated counsel, Dr Teichert, to act on his behalf. On 12th October he was expelled from the court once again. In a letter to Judge Dr. Wilhelm Bürger he pointed out that the German Supreme Court had rejected every one of the eight lawyers he had selected. Therefore, he argued: “I had no option but to defend myself as best I could. As a result I have been compelled to appear in Court in a double capacity: first as Dimitrov, the accused, and second as the defender of the accused Dimitrov.” (39)

Georgi DimitrovAt this time, the German government, had not taken full control of the court system. Judge Bürger held conservative views and was a member of the right-wing, German National People’s Party (DNVP), “for all his political prejudices, was a lawyer of the old school, and stuck to the rules.“Bürger was so impressed with Dimitrov’s letter he gave permission for him to represent himself in court. Something he did with “ingenuity and skill”. (40)

Dimitrov became the “hero” of the trial. “Dimitrov… was always polite and courteous, but the attacks on the Nazis and his comments on the judges and the manner in which they were conducting the trial were sharp, bitter and ironic. On one occasion he would declare that the verdict of the trial was already fixed, and not by the court. On another occasion, he accused the Nazis themselves of setting the Reichstag on fire.” (41)

The indictment against Dimitrov read: “Although Dimitrov was not caught red-handed at the scene of the crime, he nevertheless tock part in the preparations for the burning of the Reichstag. He went to Munich in order to supply himself with an alibi. The Communist pamphlets found in Dimitrov’s possession prove that he took part in the Communist movement in Germany…The charge rests on the basis that this criminal outrage was to be a signal, a beacon for the enemies of the State who were then to launch their attack on the German Reich, to destroy it and to set up in its place a dictatorship of the proletariat, a Soviet State, at the orders of the Third International.”

Professor Emile Josse, lecturer on thermodynamics at the Berlin Technical College, argued in court that van der Lubbe could not have set fire to the Reichstag on his own. Dimitrov, commented: “I am glad that the experts too are of the opinion that van der Lubbe could not have acted all by himself. This is the only point in the indictment with which I am in complete accord… I wish once more and for the last time to ask van der Lubbe. As was already said, he was not alone. His conduct, his silence makes it possible for innocent people to be accused along with him. I would not ask van der Lubbe about his accomplices, had his act been revolutionary, but it is counter-revolutionary.” Van der Lubbe refused to answer. (42)

Van der Lubbe admitted that he had made three failed attempts at arson on 25th February in different buildings in Berlin. Dimitrov asked van der Lubbe: “Why were you unable to set fire to the small charity institution, yet managed to set fire to the large stone building of the Reichstag, and in just a quarter of an hour at that?… The Communist International demands full clarity on the question of the Reichstag fire. Millions are waiting for an answer!” (43)

Dimitrov was also allowed to cross-examine Hermann Göring in court. Göring kept his expectant audience waiting and arrived over an hour late: “Göring entered the room in the brown uniform, leather belt and top boots of an S.A. leader. Everyone jumped up as if electrified, and all Germans, including the judges, raised their arms to give the Hitler salute.” (44)

Dimitrov’s first question concerned an interview on 28th February, 1933, where he claimed that when van der Lubbe was arrested, he had a German Communist Party membership card in his pocket. He asked Göring how he knew this? He replied: “I do not run about or search the pockets of people. If this should still be unknown to you, let me tell you: the police examines all great criminals and informs me of its findings”. Dimitrov then shocked the court by claiming: “The three officials of the criminal police who arrested and first interrogated van der Lubbe unanimously declared that no membership card was found on Lubbe. From where has the information about the card come then, I should like to know?”

Dimitrov then went on to ask Göring why he immediately announced that it was Communists who had set the Reichstag on fire: “After you, as Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, had declared that the incendiaries were Communists, that the German Communist Party had committed the crime with the aid of van der Lubbe as a foreign Communist, did this declaration on your part not serve to direct the police inquiry and afterwards – the Court investigations in a certain direction, excluding the possibility of looking for other ways and means of finding the true incendiaries of the Reichstag?”

Göring replied: “The criminal police will investigate all traces, be sure of it. I had only to establish: was this a crime beyond the political sphere or was it political in character. For me it was a political crime and I was also convinced that the criminals had to be looked for in your Party”. He then shook his fists at Dimitrov and shouted. “Your Party is a Party of criminals, which must be destroyed! And if the hearing of the Court has been influenced in this sense, it has set out on the right track…. the German people know that here you are behaving insolently, that you have come here to set fire to the Reichstag. But I am not here to allow you to question me like a judge and to reprimand me! In my eyes you are a scoundrel who should be hanged.” Dimitrov’s questioning of Göring was considered so successful that he was expelled from the court for three days. (45)

Continued on next page…

Get involved!

Get Connected!

Join our community and get uncensored news, history, and social media. Expand your network and get to know more like-minded patriots and truthseekers!

Comments

No comments yet