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Who started the Reichstag Fire?

In February 1933, upon the ashes of the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler swiftly consolidated the political power of the Nazi Party. He wielded the suspect, 23-year-old Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch Communist stonemason, as irrefutable evidence for an impending subversive uprising. By appearing to legitimize the sociopolitical paranoia of the Nazi party, the Reichstag fire fueled Hitler’s assumption of totalitarian leadership over the country. To this day debate surrounds the circumstances of that fateful night. Did Marinus van der Lubbe act as a lone arsonist whom the Nazis exploited as a political tool? Or was the fire started by the Nazis themselves as a way to finally cinch complete control over the country? We sat down with Benjamin Carter Hett, author of Burning the Reichstag: An Investigation into the Third Reich’s Enduring Mystery, to discuss decades of conspiracy theories and why the mystery of who started the Reichstag fire remains pertinent to this day.

On the theories surrounding the Reichstag Fire:

On Fritz Tobias and the Marinus van der Lubbe theory:

On the conspiracy theories surrounding the Reichstag Fire:

What can we learn from the Reichstag Fire?

Benjamin Carter Hett is the author of the new book Burning the Reichstag: An Investigation into the Third Reich’s Enduring Mystery. A former trial lawyer and professor of history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, Hett is also the author of Death in the Tiergarten and Crossing Hitler, winner of the Fraenkel Prize.

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