Jan. 19, 1963 - Ernst Torgler (pictured second from right in 1933), the German Communist who was accused of plotting the Reichstag fire of 1933, died today of a circulatory ailment. He was 69 years old. Mr. Torgler was acquitted of setting the fire that destroyed most of the parliament building in Berlin. But Adolf Hitler, who had just come to power, used the Feb. 27, 1933 fire as an excuse to clamp down on all opponents. The German Supreme Court cited lack of evidence against Mr. Torgler, but the Nazis kept him in custody until 1935. He has lived a quiet life in Hanover, Germany ever since. The day after the fire, Hitler prevailed on President von Hindenburg to suspend constitutional freedoms as a defense against the Communists. The German court sentenced Marinus van de Lubbe (pictured in striped uniform) to death. Van De Lubbe was beheaded in a Leipzig prison yard on January 10, 1934. Historians disagree on who actually was behind the Reichstag fire. Although the Nazis blamed the Communists, the prevailing opinion after World War II was that the Nazis had set the fire to give Hitler an excuse to clamp down on his opponents.
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