On February 27, 1933, four weeks after Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor, the Reichstag building, Germany's parliament, was destroyed in a fire supposedly set by a Dutch arsonist. He was not a lone arsonist and definitely not the arsonist responsible for the conflagration. He was of below average intelligence and easily duped and manipulated. On the evening of February 27th Karl Ernst, a former hotel bellhop who had become the Berlin S.A. leader, led a small detachment of storm troopers to the Reichstag, where they quickly scattered gasoline and self-igniting chemicals and then made their way quickly back to the palace by the way they had come
(an underground passage from Goering's Reichstag Presidents Palace). Shortly after they departed Dutch Communist Marinus Van der Lubbe, with a passion for arson, made his way into the huge, darkened Reichstag, and to him an unfamiliar building, and set some small fires of his own. This feeble-minded pyromaniac was a godsend to the Nazis. He had been picked up by the S.A. a few days before after having been overheard in a bar boasting that he had attempted to set fire to several public buildings and that he was going to try the Reichstag next. The S.A. then ensured that he 'found' his way into the (Reichstag) that night. Two and a half minutes after he entered, the great central hall was fiercely burning, the S.A. having started the blaze before leaving. He had only his shirt for tinder. Van der Lubbe was the patsy in the Reichstag fire and was promptly imprisoned the next day. He was later executed. Rudolph Diels, the Gestapo chief, added in an affidavit given during the 'investigation' that 'Goering knew exactly how the fire was to be started' and had ordered him 'to prepare, prior to the fire, a list of people who were to be arrested immediately after it.'