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Fall of the Weimar Republic

1929 Germany is ruled by a grand coalition stretching from the Social Democrats to the Peoples Party and the Social Democrat Muller is Chancelor. Unemployment is rising and the unemployment insurance is in heavy deficit. The Social Democrats want to increase employer's contributions while the People's Party want to cut benefits. A compromise is patched together.

1930 Rising unemployment puts the unemployment insurance into greater crisis. Meyer of the Democrats and Bruning of the Centre Party propose a new compromise. Three of the four Social Democrat Ministers accept the compromise but the Social Democrat group in the Reichstag rejects it. On 27th March Muller resigns as Chancellor.

30th March Bruning forms a minority government. By including a program of agricultural support he gets the National Party to vote for the government - against the wishes of the National Party leader, Hugenberg.

July Bruning's government proposes a finance package in response to the growing economic crisis. The Nationalists are divided but mainly against. Bruning needs Social Democrat support and the Social Democrat offers this on condition of changes. Bruning rejects the compromise and the measure is defeated. Bruning then goes to the President, the conservative Hindenburg, and imposes the finance reforms by emergency decree under Article 48. Article 48, intended to be used only in times when security and public order were seriously disrupted or imperilled (but this was never defined) gave the President far reaching powers. The Social Democrats move suspension of the decree which passes. Bruning asks the President to dissolve the Reichstag.

14th September. Elections are held while unemployment is around 3 million. The Nazis make sweeping gains and smaller gains are made by the Communists. To form a new coalition now would need everyone from the Social Democrats to the right wing 'splinter' parties. Bruning knowing he can rely on Article 48 dosn't even try. From now on Germany ceases to be a parliamentary regime but Presidential regime ruling through the Chancellor appointed by the President. Bruning now imposes a policy of deflation which the Social Democrats reluctantly 'tolerate' by voting against motions suspending the decrees. Unemployment continues to rise.

March/April 1932: Hindenburg's term expires. Bruning persuades him to stand again. The Social Democrats and the Democrats support him as the lesser evil and he is elected on the second ballot - but Hitler gains 37%.

13th April: In response to growing NAZI violence Bruning's government persuades Hindenburg (very reluctantly) to ban the SA.

June 1932: Hindenburg fed up with issuing unpopular decrees on Bruning's behalf replaces him by von Papen. Papen, reactionary, stupid and arrogant, was however an officer and fine horseman and so the ideal Chancellor in the eyes of the ageing President.

Papen meets Hitler and Hitler hints that the Nazis might support the new government in exchange for lifting of the ban on the SA and new elections. Papen falls for it and the Reichstag is dissolved (4th June).

20th July Presidential rule is imposed on the Prussian Land - using SA-communist clashes as a pretext. This gives the Chancellor direct control of the police force of 2/3rds of Germany.

31st July Elections to the Reichstag. Hitler makes sweeping gains. The Nazis, along with the communists have a blocking majority in the Reichstag and as Hitler breaks his promise to support Papen once again Germany is ruled by emergency decree.

12th September The new Reichstag meets. The communists move to repeal one of the emergency decrees and to no-confidence the government. Papen, to forestall this, attempts to immediately dissolve the Reichstag but not before the vote is counted - 512-42 against the government. The new elections show some losses for Hitler but gains by the communists keep the Reichstag deadlocked.

By now Germany is already a Presidential dictatorship in which any attempt to oppose the emergency decrees by the Reichstag will be met by dissolution. However Papen loses the support of his cabinet and Hindenburg reluctantly agrees to Papen's resignation.

2 Dec 1932: Schleicher, former friend of Papen and former minister heads the new government. Papen then , driven by a desire for revenge, seeks out Hitler. Hitler demands the Chancelorship, the Ministry of Interior, and Commissioner for Prussia. Papen wants to be Prussian Commissioner himself but offers the Interior Ministry of Prussia. As this is what Hitler really wanted he agrees and all that is required now is to get the consent of the virtually senile Hindenburg.

Jan 30 1933: Hindenburg appoints Hitler as Chancellor.

March 1933: During the election campaign massive intimidation by the SA means that only, apart from the Nazis, only the Nationalists are able to campaign. The Prussian police, now under Nazi control, employs 50,000 'auxiliaries' who are mainly SA to be used against the opposition. Many Nazi opponents are beaten up , some 50 killed. Despite this the Nazis only get 43.9% of the vote but with the Nationalists they have a majority. With the election over the communists are banned and their Riechstag deputies arrested.

23rd March: An enabling act giving dictatorial powers to Hitler's government is put to the Reichstag. A 2/3rds majority is required and 2/3rds of the Riechstag must be present. However along with the Nationalists, the Peoples Party and the Catholics vote for. The Democrats (all five of them ) are split but decide to vote for, on the grounds that as Hitler is going to establish a dictatorship anyway it is better to let him do it legally. Only those Social Democrats who attended (many are already under arrest) have the courage to vote against. source

The Reichstag Fire

February 27, 1933

The German Parliament (Reichstag) burns down. A dazed Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe is found at the scene and charged with arson. [He is later found guilty and executed].

February 28, 1933

President Hindenburg and Chancellor Hitler invoke Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which permits the suspension of civil liberties in time of national emergency. This Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State abrogates the following constitutional protections:

  • Free expression of opinion
  • Freedom of the press
  • Right of assembly and association
  • Right to privacy of postal and electronic communications
  • Protection against unlawful searches and seizures
  • Individual property rights
  • States' right of self-government

A supplemental decree creates the SA (Storm Troops) and SS (Special Security) Federal police agencies.

Who Did It?

Historians do not agree on who is actually responsible for the Reichstag Fire: van der Lubbe acting alone -- a Communist plot -- or the Nazis themselves in order to create an incident. Writers such as Klaus P. Fischer feel that most likely the Nazis were involved.

But regardless of who actually planned and executed the fire, it is clear that the Nazis immediately took advantage of the situation in order to advance their cause at the expense of civil rights. The Decree enabled the Nazis to ruthlessly suppress opposition in the upcoming election.

March 5, 1933

National elections give Nazis 44% plurality in the Reichstag. Herman Göring [who later played a central role in the Nazi government and war effort] declares that there is no further need for State governments.

Over the next few weeks, each of the lawful Weimar State governments falls to the same ruse:

  • Local Nazi organizations instigate disorder;
  • The disorder is quelled by replacing the elected state government by appointed Nazi Reich Commissioners.

March 24, 1933

The Reichstag passes the Law for Terminating the Suffering of People and Nation , also known as the Enabling Law , essentially granting Adolph Hitler dictatorial power.



Ernst Sedgewiek Hanfstaengl (or Hanfy or Putzi, as he was more usually called), like Hjalmar Horace Greeley Sehacht, was another German-American at the core of the rise of Hitlerism. Hanfstaengl was born into a well-known New England family; he was a cousin of Civil War General John Sedgewiek and a grandson of another Civil War General, William Heine.

Introduced to Hitler in the early l920s by Captain Truman-Smith, the U.S. Military Attach´┐Żin Berlin, Putzi became an ardent Hitler supporter, on occasion financed the Nazis and, according to Ambassador William Dodd, "... is said to have saved Hitler's life in 1923."

By coincidence, S.S. leader Heinrich Himmler's father was also Putzi's form master at the Royal Bavarian Wilhelms gymnasium. Putzi's student day friends at Harvard University were "such outstanding future figures" as Walter Lippman, John Reed (who figures prominently in Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution), and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After a few years at Harvard, Putzi established the family art business in New York; it was a delightful combination of business and pleasure, for as he says, "the famous names who visited me were legion, Pierpont Morgan, Toscanini, Henry Ford, Caruso, Santos-Dumont, Charlie Chaplin, Paderewski, and a daughter of President Wilson."2 It was also at Harvard that Putzi made friends with the future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Putzi's Role in the Reichstag Fire

Putzi's friendships and political manipulations may or may not be of any great consequence, but his role in the Reichstag fire is significant. The firing of the Reichstag on February 27, 1933 is one of the key events of modern times. The fire was used by Adolf Hitler to claim imminent Communist revolution, suspend constitutional rights, and seize totalitarian power. From that point on there was no turning back for Germany; the world was set upon the course to World War II.

At the time the firing of the Reichstag was blamed on the Communists, but there is little question in historical perspective that the fire was deliberately set by the Nazis to provide an excuse to seize political power. Fritz Thyssen commented in the post-war Dustbin interrogations:

When the Reichstag was burned, everyone was sure it had been done by the communists. I later learned in Switzerland that it was all a lie.

Schacht states quite emphatically:

Nowadays it would be quite clear that this action could not be fastened on the Communist Party. To what extent individual National Socialists co-operated in the planning and execution of the deed will be difficult to establish, but in view of all that has been revealed in the meantime, the fact must be accepted that Goebbels and Goering each played a leading part, the one in planning, the other in carrying out the plan.

The Reichstag fire was deliberately set, probably utilizing a flammable liquid, by a group of experts. This is where Putzi Hanfstaengl comes into the picture. The key question is how did this group, bent on arson, gain access to the Reichstag to do the job? After 8 p.m. only one door in the main building was unlocked and this door was guarded. Just before 9 p.m. a tour of the building by watchmen indicated all was well; no flammable liquids were noticed and nothing was out of the ordinary in the Sessions Chamber where the fire started. Apparently no one could have gained access to the Reichstag building after 9 p.m., and no one was seen to enter or leave between 9 p.m. and the start of the fire.

There was only one way a group with flammable materials could have entered the Reichstag through a tunnel that ran between the Reichstag and the Palace of the Reichstag President. Hermann Goering was president of the Reichstag and lived in the Palace, and numerous S.A. and S.S. men were known to be in the Palace. In the words of one author:

The use of the underground passage, with all its complications, was possible only to National-Socialists, the advance and escape of the incendiary gang was feasible only with the connivance of highly-placed employees of the Reichstag. Every clue, every probability points damningly in one direction, to the conclusion that the burning of the Reichstag was the work of National-Socialists.

How does Putzi Hanfstaengl fit into this picture of arson and political intrigue?

Putzi by his own admission was in the Palace room at the other end of the tunnel leading to the Reichstag. And according to The Reichstag Fire Trial, Putzi Hanfstaengl was actually in the Palace itself during the fire:

propaganda apparatus stood ready, and the leaders of the Storm Troopers were in their places. With the official bulletins planned in advance, the orders of arrest prepared, Karwahne, Frey and Kroyer waiting patiently in their cafe, the preparations were complete, the scheme almost perfect.

Dimitrov also asserts that:

The National-Socialist leaders, Hitler, Goering and Goebbels, together with the high National-Socialist officials, Daluege, Hanfstaengl and Albrecht, happened to be present in Berlin on the day of the fire, despite that the election campaign was at its highest pitch throughout Germany, six days before the poll. Goering and Goebbels, under oath, furnished contradictory explanations for their "fortuitous" presence in Berlin with Hitler on that day. The National-Socialist Hanfstaengl, as Goering's "guest," was present in the Palace of the Reichstag President, immediately adjacent to the Reichstag, at the time when the .fire broke out, although his "host" was not there at that time.

According to Nazi Kurt Ludecke, there once existed a document signed by S.A. Leader Karl Ernst who supposedly set the fire and was later murdered by fellow Nazis which implicated Goering, Goebbels, and Hanfstaengl in the conspiracy.
Antony C Sutton

Never Forget...

never forget


Hitler used the 1933 burning of the Reichstag (Parliament) building by a deranged Dutchman to declare a "war on terrorism," establish his legitimacy as a leader (even though he hadnt won a majority in the previous election).

"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion "a sign from God," he called it to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their "evil" deeds in their religion.

Two weeks later, the first prison for terrorists was built in Oranianberg, holding the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national outburst of patriotism, the nations flag was everywhere, even printed in newspapers suitable for display.

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nations now-popular leader had pushed through legislation, in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it, that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into peoples homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.

To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State" passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack on the Reichstag building was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained.

Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. Instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as The Fatherland. As hoped, peoples hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands.

Within a year of the terrorist attack, Hitlers advisors determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, including those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist sympathizers. He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the Fatherland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single powerful leader.

Most Americans remember his Office of Fatherland Security, known as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and Schutzstaffel, simply by its most famous agencys initials: the SS.

And, perhaps most important, he invited his supporters in industry into the halls of government to help build his new detention camps, his new military, and his new empire which was to herald a thousand years of peace. Industry and government worked hand-in-glove, in a new type of pseudo-democracy first proposed by Mussolini and sustained by war.

Cloak & Dagger


Pre - World War II Timeline





18 September 1931

Japan invades Manchuria


8 November 1932

Franklin D. Roosevelt elected President of the United States [United States]


28 January 1933

Fire destroys the Reichstag in Berlin

30 January 1933

Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

25 March 1933

Japan withdraws from the League of Nations

14 October 1933

Germany Withdraws from the League of Nations


19 August 1934

Adolph Hitler succeeds Hindenburg as leader of Germany

21 October 1934

Mao Tse-tung's "Long March" begins


1 March 1935

Germany regains possession of the Saar

18 June 1935

Anglo-German Naval Treaty signed

3 October 1935

Italy invades Ethiopia

20 October 1935

Mao Tse-tung's "Long March" concludes [China]


7 March 1936

Germany occupies the Rhineland

5 May 1936

Italians occupy the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa; Emperor Haile Selaissie flees to England

17 July 1936

Spanish Civil War begins


28 May 1937

Neville Chamberlain becomes the New British Prime Minister

12 June 1937

Purges begin in the Soviet Union

7 July 1937

Japan invades China

1 August 1937

The concentration camp at Buchenwald opens

13 December 1937

Nanking Massacre


11 March 1938

Annexation of Austria by Germany

5 October 1938

Germany takes the Sudetenland

9 November 1938

Kristallnact--Night of the Broken Glass


12 March 1939

Battle of Finnish-Soviet War ends [Finland]

14 March 1939

Germany occupies Moravia and Bohemia

1 April 1939

Civil War ends in Spain

7 April 1939

Italian forces invade Albania

1 September 1939

World War II begins when Germany invades Poland [Germany]

Recognise this? what happens when this becomes GLOBAL?

Dictionaries tell us that fascism involves, "Extreme right-wing, nationalist and authoritarian systems of government and social organisation." Almost everyone recognises the past regimes of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini as totalitarian. However, few citizens of the US, Britain, or Australia, consider that their governments have yet reached such extremes.

Dr Laurence Britt has studied the characteristics of past regimes such as, "Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia."

He lists fourteen common themes.

* 1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. (Prominent use of flags and slogans. Pride in the military, and international sports successes.)

* 2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. (The people are persuaded to accept the regime's abuse of its victims. Such as wide and intrusive surveillance, detention without legal access, extreme interrogation methods, the internment and traumatising of children, etc.)

* 3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. (The use of propaganda and disinformation to divert the people's attention from other problems, and to channel fear and frustration in controlled directions. Active opponents of these regimes are inevitably labelled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.)

* 4. Supremacy of the military / Avid militarism. (The military is seen as an expression of nationalism, and is used to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the state, and those who control it.)

* 5. Rampant Sexism (The political elite and the national culture are male-dominated. Abortion and homosexuality are suppressed. The state is represented as the guardian of moral values. Sexual smears are propagated against opponents of both genders. There is a phobia surrounding alleged sexual abuse or misconduct, in both the media and the courts.)

* 6. Controlled Mass Media. (The media is either directly controlled by the state, or it is regulated and indirectly controlled by media magnates who are politically attuned with the regime. In the present day, the media includes the Internet, and censorship and controls also apply there.)

* 7. Obsession with national security. (A national security apparatus is in place, and operating in secret and beyond any constraints from those outside the regime. The actions of the national security apparatus are justified under the headings of "national security" and "national interest." Questioning its activities is portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.)

* 8. Religion and state are tied together. (The regimes attach themselves to the predominant religion and portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behaviour is incompatible with the precepts of the religion are swept under the rug. A perception is manufactured, that opposing the state is tantamount to an attack on the predominant religion.)

* 9. Corporate power is protected. (The personal lives of ordinary citizens, and the operations of small businesses, are under strict control. But, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom is not compromised. Corporate excesses and abuses of market power are common. The economic elite are pampered by the regime to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of "have-not" citizens.)

* 10. Labour power is suppressed or eliminated. (Since organised labour is seen as the one power centre that could challenge the political power of the regime and its corporate allies, it is inevitably crushed or made powerless.)

* 11. Suppression of intellectuals and the arts. (Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them are anathema to the regime. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent are strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. Art and literature must serve the "national interest" or they have no right to exist.)

* 12. Obsession with crime and punishment. (There is a substantial system of criminal justice, with huge prison populations. The presence of a national police force with almost unchecked power leads to rampant abuses. Normal and political crimes are often merged into trumped-up criminal charges against opponents of the regime. Fear of rising crime levels in the society is exploited as an excuse for more police power.)

* 13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. (Those in business circles and close to the power elite often use their position to enrich themselves. Government watchdogs crack down on small operators but ignore corporate mismanagement and corruption until it is too late. Ordinary investors often lose money due to insider manipulation and fraud. The corporate executives who pilfer the financial system, or plunder natural resources without proper justification or safeguards on sustainability, make significant corporate donations to the regime, and help to keep it in power. Government tender processes, particularly in defence and technology, are biased towards favoured contractors, and public money is wasted.)

* 14. Fraudlent elections. (Plebiscites and public opinion polls are usually bogus. When elections with candidates are held they are perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods include maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and use of a judiciary beholden to the regime.)
- UK Government reiterates derelict plan to extend mental illness UK Indymedia

Never Forget...

never forget
[ pictures above from remember.org ]