The Reichstag Fire
On February 27, 1933, someone set fire to the Reichstag, a stately, neo-classical building in Berlin where the Parliament met. This building was the symbol of all authority and order in Germany, and of the German nation itself, just like our Capitol - or our Wall Street. While Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany, his Nazi party was only a minority in this parliament, and faced stiff opposition.
At 9:05 PM, a passerby saw a man running through the Reichstag with a burning torch. The first fire alarm was received at 9:14. The fire department was there within ten minutes, but the building was well involved, and soon after it exploded into an even more violent fire that gutted the entire structure, leaving a whole nation in a state of shock.
Police quickly arrested the ash-covered, shirtless arsonist at the scene. He was Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch communist sympathizer with a history of mental problems, who had burned his shirt to start more fires after his torch went out.
By then, Hitler and Goring had arrived. Hitler was described as being literally purple with rage. Goring launched into a speech which vowed to destroy the conspiracy that had done this horrendous act by flushing out communists wherever they hid.
Within hours, a shaken President Hindenburg cited this threat to join Chancellor Hitler in invoking Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which suspended civil rights for the duration of the emergency. A decree was issued which made any expression of dissent or opposition illegal, ended privacy of personal communications, allowed unlimited searches and seizures, and allowed the confiscation of property from those deemed a threat to the national security. Soon after, another decree created the SA (Storm Troopers) and SS to enforce homeland security.
The Nazi party gained greatly in the next Parliamentary election, and was then able to invoke continued panic about the communist menace to pass the infamous law giving Hitler dictatorial powers. The people welcomed this law, being more than ready for Hitler to personally lead them out of their perceived mortal danger.
Van der Lubbe was tried, convicted, and decapitated for the crime. Other communist leaders were brought to trial, but the flimsy cases did not hold up in court. This so angered Hitler that treason cases were removed from the court system and tried by the Nazi party itself.
It is likely that the Reichstag Fire was really the work of a covert plot within the Nazi party. The building burned much too fast for Van der Lubbe's crude methods to be so effective had accelerants not already been splashed around. While Van der Lubbe insisted, even under torture, that he had acted alone, he was known to have associated with certain spooky figures in what became the SA. In fact, a dirty trick squad of ten men within this organization was eventually ended with all of their executions - dead men tell no tales?
Regardless of who started it, it is obvious that Hitler finished it. I cannot imagine that certain similar opportunies are lost on the leaders of the 2001 United States, most of whom were alive in World War II. While I don't think for a second that the US government started the World Trade Center/ Pentagon attacks, we're certainly seeing it finish them. I'm sure more than one guy has whispered "Reichstag fire" in George W. Bush's presence... whether or not Dubbya can spell it yet.
Reichstag fire links: http://worldatwar.net/event/reichstagsbrand/ http://www.whatareweswallowing.freeserve.co.uk/hitler1.htm http://www.weyrich.com/political_issues/reichstag_fire.html http://www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/hist/fire.html http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERreichstagF.htm