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Die Kontroverse um den Reichstagsbrand

Ulrich von Hehl
Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte
36. Jahrg., 2. H. (Apr., 1988), pp. 259-280
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30195332
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Die Kontroverse um den Reichstagsbrand
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Abstract

The Reichstagsbrand of 27 February 1933 is one of the most dramatic events in Hitler's Machtergreifung. The question of who should be made accountable for starting the fire has been disputed ever since. No proof was found of the Nazi's communist conspiracy version, and hardly anyone considered the Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, capable of having acted alone. Consequently, increasing weight was lent to the conjecture that the Nazis themselves, who undoubtedly profited from the incident, had started the fire. This conjecture was generally accepted until challenged in the early sixties by the "amateur" historian, Fritz Tobias. He upheld that van der Lubbe had been responsible and so triggered off an acrimonious controversy. On the basis of two documentations (1972, 1978) a research team headed by Walther Hofer claimed to have established incontrovertible documentary proof of Nazi perpetration. Serious factual and methodological doubts were expressed however, culminating in 1986 in the accusation, as yet unrefuted, that documents had been systematically fabricated. This course of events imposes on historians the express obligation to subject sources to a critical scrutiny and to give greater consideration to the rational principles underlying historical perception and exactness of interpretation.

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