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On 27th February the Reichstag caught fire. When the police arrived they found Marinus van der Lubbe on the premises. After being tortured by the Gestapo he confessed to starting the Reichstag Fire. However he denies that he was part of a Communist conspiracy. Hermann Goering refuses to believe him and he orders the arrest of several leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD)

When Hitler heard the news about the fire he gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night." Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Hermann Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.

As well as Marinus van der Lubbe the German police charged four communists with setting fire to the Reichstag. This included Ernst Torgler, the chairman of the KPD and Georgi Dimitrov of the Soviet Comintern.

Marinus van der Lubbe was found guilty of the Reichstag Fire and was executed on 10th January, 1934. Adolf Hitler was furious that the rest of the defendants were acquitted and he decided that in future all treason cases were taken from the Supreme Court and given to a new People's Court where prisoners were judged by members of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). 

(Spartacus Education <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERreichstagF.htm >)

  

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