Sunday, May 14, 2006


THE REICHSTAG FIRE
"We German Social Democrats pledge ourselves solemnly in this historic hour to the principles of hummanity and justice, of freedom and socialism. No 'Enabling Act' can give you the power to destroy ideas which are eternal and indestructible."
- Otto Wells, leader of the German Social Democrats, whose members had been "detained" by the Storm Troopers, to Adolf Hitler on March 23rd, 1933 after the passing of Hitler's 'Enabling Act' which ended democracy in Germany for the next 12 years.
**The following quotes come from 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich' by William L. Shirer. Chapter seven (The Nazification of Germany: 1933 to 1934) pages 263 to 278**
"On Januray 31, 1933, the day after Hitler was named Chancellor, Goebbels wrote in his diary : 'In a conference with the Fuhrer we lay down the line for the fight against the Red Terror. For the moment we shall abstain from direct countermeasures. The Bolshevik attempt at revolution must burst into flame . At the proper moment, we shall strike.'" The only problem with the Nazi plan was that the "strike" never came, despite numerous brutal attempts by the Nazis to incite a revolution or a communist uprising. Hitler needed such an 'uprising' to occur in order to frighten the people into voting for his "Enabling Act" which would nullify the German constitution and place all the power of the government directly into Hitler's hands.
Communist party headquarters were occupied and shut down by the feared Brownshirts. Rallies were forbidden or broken up. Leaders of the Communist Party and any other German who rose to their support or protection were viciously beaten and many were locked up. The German police were told by Hitler to "make use of firearms" and those who refused or were seen as 'holding back' were punished.
"And yet despite all the terror the 'Bolshevik revoultion' which Goebbels, Hitler and Goering were looking for failed to 'burst into flames.' If it could not be provoked, might it not have to be invented?" And so they did. On February 24th Goering's police force raided the Communist party headquarters in Berlin, the Karl Liebknecht Haus. The headquarters had been abandoned weeks ago and many of the members had gone underground or slipped out of Germany and headed towards Russia. But "piles of propaganda pamphlets had been left in the cellar and these were enough to enable Goering to announce in an official communique that the seized 'documents' proved that the Communists were about to launch the revolution." Unfortunately for the Nazis, the reaction of the government and the people was one of skepticism. "It was obvious that something more sensational must be found to stampede the public before the election took place on March 5th."
On the evening of February 27th the German Reichstag burned to the ground. While still engulfed in flames, Hitler, Goering and Goebbels raced to the scene of the 'crime.' Upon arrival, they feigned outrage. "That it was a crime, a communist crime, they (the Nazis) proclaimed at once on arrival at the fire." A short time later, Goebbels proclaimed "This is the beginning of the Communist revolution! We must not wait a minute. We will show no mercy. Every communist official must be shot, where he is found. Every Communist deputy must this very moment be strung up." And so it began. Hitler had his "terrorist" attack and a convenient "enemy" to blame it on.
"The whole truth about the Reichstag fire will probably never be known......though there is enough evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the Nazi's who planned the arson and carried it out for their own political ends." They even found a dupe to blame it on, a half-witted Dutch Communist with a penchant for arson named Marinus van der Lubbe. A few days before the "attack" van der Lubbe had been picked up by the Nazis at a bar after he was heard boasting that he had recently set fire to several public buildings and that he was next going to try the Reichstag. "The coincidence that the Nazis has found a demented Communist arsonist who was out to do exactly what they themselves had determined to do seems incredible but is nevertheless supported by the evidence.....van der Lubbe was encouraged to try to set the Reichstag on fire. But the main job was to be done - without his knowledge, of course - by the storm troopers." Upon discovery at the burning building, van der Lubbe was arrested on the spot and, after a sham trial, was found guilty and decapitated.
Hitler lost no time in expoliting the Reichstag fire to the limit. The day after the fire, the Prussian government issued a "long statement declaring that it had found Communist 'documents' proving : Government buildings, museums, mansions and essential plants were to be burned down....Women and children were to be sent in front of terrorist groups......The burning of the Reichstag was to be the signal for the bloody insurrection and civil war....It has been ascertained that today was to have seen throughout Germany terrorist acts against individual persons, against private property, and against the life and limb of the peaceful population, and also the beginning of general civil war."
"Publication of the 'documents proving the Communist conspiracy' was promised but never made. The fact, however, that the Prussian government itself vouched for their authenticity impressed many Germans." The people were terrified. "The streets, bedecked with swastika flags, echoed to the tramp of the storm troopers. There were mass rallies, torchlight parades, the din of loudspeakers in the squares. The billboards were plastered with flamboyant Nazi posters and at night bonfires lit up the hills. The elctorate was in turn cajoled with promises of a German paradise, intimidated by the brown shirted terror in the streets and frightened by revelations about the Communist revolution. With all the resources of the national and Prussian government at their disposal, and with plenty of money from big business in their coffers, the Nazis carried on an election propaganda such as Germany had never seen before." Those who still held doubts may have been impressed by Goering's (the man in charge of the 'Police') threats against the Communist terrorists: "Fellow Germans, my measures will not be cripppled by any judicial thinking...I don't have to worry about justice; my mission is only to destroy and exterminate, nothing more!...Certainly, I shall use the power of the State and the police to the utmost, my dear Communists, so don't draw any flase conclusions; but the struggle to the death, in which my fist will grasp your necks, I shall lead to those down there - the Brownshirts." It worked.
Hitler prevailed on President Hindenburg to sign a decree "For the Protection of the People of the State" which suspended the seven sections of the constitution which guaranteed "individual and civil liberties." Hitler, describing it as a "defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state, the decree laid down that: Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of the free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed."
"Thus with one stroke, Hitler was able not only to legally gag his opponents and arrest them at will but, by making the trumped-up Communist threat 'official,' as it were, to throw millions of the middle class and the peasants into a frenzy of FEAR that unless they voted for National Socialism at the elections a week hence, the Bolsheviks might take over." But Hitler didn't stop there. He needed COMPLETE power over the remaning German parliment (the only people left opposing him were the Social Democrats and they still held enough seats to hold off Hitlers push for complete dictatorship.)
Hitlers plan was deceptively simple and had the advantage of "cloaking seizure of absolute power in legality." "The Reichstag would be asked to pass the 'Enabling Act' conferring on Hitlers cabinet exclusive legislative powers for four years. Put even more simply, the German Parliment would be requested to turn over its Constitutional functions to Hitler and take a long vacation." But the Social Democrats still held enough seats to oppose the two-thirds needed to succeed. But this didn't stop Hiltler. By the decree signed by Hindenburg ('The Protection of the People of the State'), Hitler simply arrested as many Social Democrats as necessary "to assure to two-thrids majority." And so he did. And he won. The vote was taken and it was 441 FOR and 84 (all Social Democrats not 'detained') AGAINST.
On March 23rd, the 'Enabling Act' was before the Reichstag. "It's brief five paragraphs took the power of legislation, including control of the Reich budget, approval of treaties with foreign states and the initiating of Constitutional amendments, away from Parliment and handed it over to the Reich cabinet for a period of four years. Moreover, the act stipulated that the laws enacted by the cabinet were to be drafted by the Chancellor (Hitler) and 'might deviate from the Constitution.'" Nobody said a word in protest. The German people, fearing terrorist attacks by the Communists, felt secure knowing Hitler was in charge of the country, believing he would, indeed, "protect them." This was the farthest thing from the truth. The German people had just abdicated all governmental powers to one man. Overnight they had permitted, by silencing their voices out of fear of an impending Communist attack, one man to take charge over their entire government.
"Thus the parlimentaty democracy finally interred in Germany. Except for arrests of the Communists and some of the Social Democratic deputies, it was all done quite legally, though accompanied by TERROR. Parliment had turned over its Constitutional authority to Hitler and thereby commited suicide, though its body lingered on in an embalmed state to the very end of the Third Reich, serving infrequently as a sounding board for some of Hitler's thunderous pronunciations, its members henceforth handpicked by the Nazi Party, for there were to be no more REAL elections. It was this Enabling Acts alone which formed the legal basis for Hitler's dictatorship. From March 23, 1933, on, Hilter was the dictator of the Reich, freed of any restraint by Parliment. "
"The streets gangs," in the words of Alan Bullock, "had seized control of the resources of a great modern State, the gutter had come to power. But - as Hitler never ceased to boast - 'LEGALLY,' by an overwhelming vote of Parliment. The Germans had no one to blame but themselves."
Does this entire scenario sound vaguely familiar to you? It sure does to me.