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Thursday, June 4, 2020

On Monday, Feb. 24, 1933, the Reichstag -- building of the German legislature -- burned.

Within days, Chancellor Adolf Hitler convinced President Paul von Hindenburg the fire had been started by communists and a putsch was afoot.

Hindenburg signed into a law a minor clause in the Weimer Constitution that allowed for the suspension of all civil liberties, which in turn allowed Hitler to take full control of what until then had been a democracy.

A country's leader had turned the government and its military against its people.

Although the Nazis almost immediately arrested a Dutch Communist, it was clear the first night the fire had been far to big for one man to have started by lighting fire to window curtains. The Berlin Fire Chief oversaw operations and said the next day the fire department had been alerted too late and then not allowed to use all efforts to quell the fire. An investigation the next morning showed at least 20 bundles of firestarters that had not alighted throughout the building. Hermann Goring had recently built a mansion across the street and connected the two buildings with a tunnel.

The fire chief was fired and later put on trial. He was strangled to death in his cell a few years later.

William L. Shirer wrote in "The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich," that while the Dutch Communist might have been in the building, clearly Nazis were involved in the massiveness of the fire. He also wrote that Goring joked during a birthday party for Hitler in 1943 that he knew the Reichstag building the best because he was the one who burned it down.

Years later, testimony would be unearthed by a member of an elite Nazi officer who admitted to driving the Dutch Communist to the Reichstag from a local sanitarium and while on the way, he and other soldiers could smell the fire.

Beware of our failure to learn from history.

Tomorrow, back to homeless issues and then probably a weekend off.

I love all of you.


  1. Can I please copy and post this, with a link to your blog?

  2. Brilliant detour through history--fascinating detail about Goring boasting in 1943 that he started the Reichstag fire. The parallels with Trump, who links the peaceful, mostly law-abiding protestors with left-wing extremists who must be "dominated," are disturbing. Thanks for making your readers reflect more deeply on these disturbing times!

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