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Video: The Reichstag Fire

By Dean Nicholas | Posted 27th February 2013, 12:46
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On February 27th 1933, fire ripped through the Reichstag in Berlin. When they arrived, police officers found Marinus van der Lubbe, an unemployed Dutchman with learning difficulties, and quickly extracted a "confession" from him.

Coming less than a month after Hitler became Chancellor, the attack was used as evidence of a growing Communist plot against the German government. van der Lubbe was tried, found guilty and executed the next year. Several other Communist leaders were also tried, and acquitted. But the fire was the precursor to a total seizure of power by the Nazis, who began to systematically dismantle Germany's democratic institutions and victimise their political opponents. The real identity of those responsible for the fire remains topic of much discussion amongst historians.

The newsreel clip above, which has Hungarian narration, shows the aftermath of the fire.

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