February 27 - 1933 - The Reichstag Fire

As an act of arson, the Reichstag fire was not very damaging. No one died, and the Reichstag building, the home of the German parliament, remained standing even though the parliament could no longer meet there. Symbolically, the Reichstag fire cemented Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party's control over Germany. Hitler had been Chancellor of Germany for less than a month, and was trying to navigate a complicated multi-party stew. By blaming the Reichstag fire on a Communist Party conspiracy, the Nazis were able to get a decree passed that waived many human rights. Then Hitler was able to become the effective dictator of Germany in the wake of the Reichstag fire. The arsonist, Marinus van der Lubbe, was an ardent Communist, but also a violent weirdo with few connections. More prominent Communists were also tried for the crime. Later historians claimed the Nazis were behind setting the fire. In many ways, though, it does not matter who started the fire, only what the Nazis did afterward.

William Floyd