Dimitrov vs. Göbbels


From the Verbatim Report of the Court November 13, 1933

Interrogation of witness Grawe1)


Dimitrov: Did van der Lubbe leave for Berlin on the following morning alone or with somebody else?

Van der Lubbe: Alone!

Dimitrov: Thank God, now he speaks a little more! May be we can ask some other questions?

President: Yes, about what?

Dimitrov: I want first of all to put a question to the witness and then also to van der Lubbe: If I have understood correctly, after the Reichstag fire it became known in this notorious Hennigsdorf that van der Lubbe had been there on February 26. Is that so? Have I understood correctly?

President: You ought to ask me, I have told you that also before: Yes, the witness said that.

Dimitrov: Have I understood correctly that in this connection in Hennigsdorf also, as well as in the whole of Germany, it was known that the Communists were responsible for setting the Reichstag on fire?

President: Yes, that was known.

Grawe: It was generally said: who else could it be!

Dimitrov: It was known that van der Lubbe had been in your house. This was known, you said it, didn't you? (Van der Lubbe: Yes). When did this witness for the first time mention there, in Hennigsdorf, the fact that van der Lubbe had been in front of his shop or his house?

President: I have already asked earlier. Did you not tell about this?

Grawe: I did not tell the police at once.

President: No, later.

Dimitrov: When later?

Grawe: The police knew this.

President: That is precisely why you did not tell anything.

Dimitrov: From van der Lubbe's answer one may infer that van der Lubbe had actually been in this house. If that is so, the question must then be asked, has the Hennigsdorf police gone to this witness and has it asked him: was van der Lubbe here or not? If he was here, what did he do, with whom did he speak, and in general what did he do? Did the Hennigsdorf police call on this witness on the 28th or on the following day and did it question him?

President: Did the police know at all that van der Lubbe had been in your house?

Grawe: I suppose so, because I told the wife of the police sergeant about it, and she told her husband.

Dimitrov: The police knew about it, but did not come... Does the witness know whether in the course of eight or nine months after the burning of the Reichstag anyone from the committee on the fire, from the political police or from some other institution came to Hennigsdorf and whether an inquiry was made on this matter? Was any house searched in connection with the overnight sojourn of van der Lubbe in Hennigsdorf? ... Was the witness Grawe then also a National Socialist?

Grawe: I have always been a rightist.

Dimitrov: I am asking van der Lubbe a question and would request the President to have this question also translated into Dutch. In my opinion the bridge between van der Lubbe and the fire in the plenary sessions chamber of the Reichstag...

President: You should not have said this, because that might influence the testimony, the objective testimony of the defendant. And so, put the question you want to put at once!

Dimitrov: The bridge passes through Hennigsdorf...

President: You must put a question!

Dimitrov: That is why I am asking van der Lubbe: is it not true and it is no accident, is it, that he spent the night of February 26 in Hennigsdorf?

President: You should not ask prompting questions. And this question is of that kind. Defendant van der Lubbe, what was the reason for your spending the night in Hennigsdorf, why did you go and spend the night there?

Van der Lubbe: Because I could sleep well there. (Laughter).

Dimitrov: He was there, because he could sleep well there, that is how he answered. Is it true, however, that he went from there to Berlin and in the evening of February 27 was here, in the Reichstag, at the fire and that he personally took part in setting the fire?

President: Why, he himself kindled the fire.

Dimitrov: Took part! I am asking whether it is true that he left Hennigsdorf for Berlin, spent the whole day in Berlin, on the evening of February 27 was here, in the Reichstag, and took part in setting the Reichstag on fire. Yes or no, is this true?

President: I want to ask once more: did you set the fire?

Van der Lubbe: Yes.

Dimitrov: Is it true that he did not do that alone? (Van der Lubbe keeps silent).

Dimitrov: Is it not true, Mr. President, that on account of the conduct of van der Lubbe in the Court, namely his silence, his answers: yes and no, his refusal to describe the real situation - is it not true that the behaviour of van der Lubbe2) gives rise to the possibility of accusing innocent people, who are sitting here as sham-incendiaries of the Reichstag and does not this behaviour facilitate and intensify the possibility of carrying out a monstrous raid against the Communists.

President: Shut up!


1) During the examination of Grawe (a fascist barber of Hennigsdorf, where van der Lubbe spent the night before the Reichstag fire) Dimitrov put a series of questions to van der Lubbe.

2) During the whole trial van der Lubbe gave the impression of an abnormal man. He did not answer the questions, looked absentmindedly about or sat with his head dropping, his nose running. Numerous newspapers and medical experts explained van der Lubbe's condition by the fact that the fascist prison authorities had put narcotic poisons in his food.