1 March 1933
The burning down of the German Reichstag (parliament) on the night of 27 February 1933 was blamed on ‘red terror.’ The arson may well have been instigated by the Nazis, but the incident gave Hitler the opportunity he hungered for to eliminate the communists, socialists, trade unionists and all effective opposition that stood in the way of the consolidation of a dictatorship. The Daily Telegraph was one of several British newspapers which wholeheartedly backed his ruthless crackdown, declaring in an editorial on 1 March that ‘the torch is a normal weapon of the communist,’ and reminding readers that ‘(arson) is not an incredible charge to bring against the communists. On the contrary, it is an integral part of the scheme of what Lenin used to call “heavy civil war.”‘ The paper urged readers not to feel too concerned about the purge of communist activists as they ‘are only getting a comparatively mild instalment of the repression with which they threaten every other party in the state,’ and concluded that ‘the established authority has every right to take measures for its own protection while the ruins of its Parliament House are still smoking.’1
- ‘Germany Under the Iron Hand,’ the Daily Telegraph, 1 March 1933 p. 12.
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