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Nazi Role in 1933 Reichstag Fire Should Be Probed, Pau Says

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The vice president of Germany’s lower house of parliament, Petra Pau, called for a review into the 1933 fire that destroyed the Reichstag in Berlin which helped clear the way for the Nazi rise to power.

A communist Dutchman, Marinus van der Lubbe, was sentenced to death for treason and arson in 1933 for setting fire to the parliament building four weeks after Adolf Hitler became chancellor. Historians still debate whether van der Lubbe acted alone or if the Nazis were involved in the crime.

“The Reichstag fire is a stigma of German history,” Pau, a member of the Left Party that’s a successor to former East Germany’s ruling communists, said in a speech in Berlin on Feb. 26. “The Bundestag especially should have a particular interest in this and push for a clarification.”

The Nazis used the blaze as a pretext to persecute the opposition and suspend civil rights, saying the fire was the start of a communist revolution. Pau said the review of the fire should be undertaken by scientists, such as fire experts, and historians.

In 2008, a German law overturned the 1933 verdict against van der Lubbe, saying it may have been “politically motivated.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Joseph de Weck in Berlin at jdeweck@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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