What had happened, as I later discovered, was that Hanfstängl,
who was trying to sleep off an attack of flu in a room of
Goering's presidential palace opposite to the Reichstag, had been
awakened by the fire engines. He looked out of his window, saw the
fire, rushed to the telephone and called Goebbels.
Reichstag is on fire," he almost shrieked. "Tell the
stop that nonsense, Putzi. It is not even funny," answered
I am telling the truth."
am not listening to any more of your stale jokes. Go back to bed.
Good night!" And Goebbels hung up.
trouble was that just about four days earlier that merry little
prankster Goebbels, to amuse Hitler, had played a telephone hoax
on Hanfstängl. And when Hanfstängl called him with the Reichstag
fire alarm he thought he was being hoaxed back.
Hanfstängl rang again. "Look here! What I am telling you is
the absolute truth. It is your duty to tell the Führer. If you
don't I guarantee there'll be trouble!" Even then Goebbels
would not believe him.
Delmer, Trail Sinister
Martin Secker & Warburg, London 1961.