Prophets, journalists and the burning of the Reichstag

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on David’s Tent, a ministry of Israeli believers Avner and Rachel Boskey. The Boskey’s have ministered at Tabernacle of David, and we consider them trustworthy and Biblically sound.

God’s “purpose is unchangeable . . . It is impossible for God to lie; (Therefore) we who have taken refuge” under His wings “have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18). “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

God’s word is our rock-solid foundation. As Bob Dylan says, “God don’t make promises that He don’t keep” (Slow Train Coming, 1979). We who turn to the word of God have full assurance that it is 100% accurate and reliable, because it is breathed out from the lungs of God (2 Timothy 3:16). “You shall have accurate balances, accurate weights, an accurate ephah, and an accurate hin; I am YHVH your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:36). Pastors are exhorted to rise to the higher calling of accuracy in their Scripture teachings: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).


A good prophet is an accurate prophet

When the God of Jacob shared His heart with Moses about prophetic ministry, He also homed in on accuracy: “And if you say in your heart, ‘How will we recognize the word which YHVH has not spoken?’ When the prophet speaks in the name of YHVH, and the thing does not happen or come true, that is the thing which YHVH has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you are not to be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

This high bar is our spiritual inheritance as Yeshua’s followers as well, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not reject prophetic words, but examine everything. Hold firmly to that which is good, abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). The Apostle Paul presents a wonderful balance for our consideration: he wishes and earnestly desires that all believers would prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1-5), and at the same time he calls us to be accurate, to judge accurately and to give no place to confusion: “Have two or three prophets speak, and have the others pass judgment . . . God is not a God of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:29-32).


An accurate journalist is a dependable journalist

We know that all prophecies which made it into the Bible are accurate ones. And I still remember a time when reporters needed to be accurate in journalism in order to made it into the papers. In the classic The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, it is stated, “Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth, Good decision-making depends on people having reliable, accurate facts . . . Its essence is a discipline of verification . . . This discipline of verification is what separates journalism from other forms of communication such as propaganda, advertising, fiction or entertainment.”  Someone has added that “journalism is the production and distribution of reports on current events based on facts and supported with proof or evidence.”

We live at a time when “many travel back and forth, and knowledge increases” daily by leaps and bounds (see Daniel 12:4). The sterling reputation of investigative journalists (like Gareth Jones who reported during the horrendous Ukrainian Holodomir enforced Stalinist famines) has given way to the non-stop droning of 24/7 cable news networks. But this media glut comes at a price – we are all witnesses to the blowback of increased trivialization, entertainment and propagandistic spin.  Anyone who wants to find out what is really going on about any specific world event today needs to do due diligence and consult many media streams, not merely to nurse at the baby-bottle of one’s favorite news channel.


Lessons from the burning of the Reichstag

In 1933 the Nazi leader Adolph Hitler had his sights set on taking over Germany and transforming it into a fascist dictatorship. The two main political parties in Germany at that time – the left-wing Communists and the right-wing National Socialists (Nazis) – were struggling for control of the Reichstag (equivalent to the U.S. Congress). Hitler had a plurality in the German parliament, but he needed an absolute majority to move his vision forward. Three steps were needed – to acquire a solid Nazi majority and thus become dictator (Führer); to secure that position; to weaken and crush his opposition.

His strategy involved the passage of the Enabling Act (Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich), which would allow him to bypass any objections raised by the Reichstag legislative body. Hitler would instead rule by executive order. He needed a two-thirds majority vote in the Reichstag, but as of January 1933, the Nazis had only 32% of the seats. How to increase the number of Nazi seats? The Führer’s plan was to outlaw the Communist Part of Germany (the KPD, Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, which had 17% of the seats) immediately after the elections and before the legislature convened.

Shortly after 2100 hours on 27 February, 1933, the Berlin Fire Department received a message that the Reichstag was on fire. Despite the best efforts of the firefighters, most of the building was gutted by the blaze and by 2330 the fire was extinguished. Hitler called the fire a sign from God” and claimed it was a secret beacon-signal (Fanal) meant to mark the beginning of a Communist Putsch (revolt). By the next day, the Preussische Pressedienst (Prussian Press Service) reported that “this act of incendiarism is the most monstrous act of terrorism carried out by Bolshevism in Germany.” The Vossische Zeitung newspaper warned its readers that “the government is of the opinion that the situation is such that a danger to the state and nation existed and still exists.”

Any journalist worth his salt would have begun an investigation. But the day after the fire, at Hitler’s request, President Hindenburg signed the Reichstag Fire Decree into law, based on Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution. The Reichstag Fire Decree suspended most civil liberties in Germany, including habeas corpus, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right of free association and public assembly, and the secrecy of the post and telephone. These rights were never reinstated during the Nazi reign. This decree was also used by the Nazis to ban publications considered not sufficiently ‘friendly’ to the Nazi cause.

Marinus van der Lubbe, a half-blind Dutch Communist, was arrested as the culprit and, after torture, claimed to have acted alone in setting the Reichstag fire. Nevertheless Hitler publicly blamed the fire on Communist agitators, announcing that it was the start of a Communist insurrection to take over Germany. Nazi Party newspapers dutifully published this fabricated ‘news,’ which sent the German population into a panic and isolated the Communists further. In days following, thousands of Communists were imprisoned (including leaders of the Communist Party of Germany) on the charge that the Communist Party was preparing to stage a coup d’état.

 The Enabling Act passed easily on 23 March, 1933 with the support of the right-wing German National People’s Party, the Centre Party, and several fragmented middle-class parties. The measure went into force on 27 March, effectively making Hitler dictator of Germany.  Media spin on who was responsible for the Reichstag Fire played a pivotal role in helping to establish Nazi Germany.


The rest of the news

Walter Gempp, head of the Berlin fire department at that time, personally directed operations at the Reichstag. On 25 March he was dismissed for presenting evidence that suggested Nazi involvement in the fire. In 1937, he was arrested for abuse of office and was imprisoned. On 2 May 1939 Gempp was strangled to death in prison.

In July 2019, Germany’s Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung published a 1955 affidavit of former investigator Fritz Tobias validating the testimony of Hans-Martin Lennings (1904–1962), a former member of the Nazis’ paramilitary SA unit. Lennings stated that on the night of the fire, he and his SA group drove van der Lubbe from an infirmary to the Reichstag, where they noticed “a strange smell of burning and there were clouds of smoke billowing through the rooms.” This was clear evidence that the fire had already started before van der Lubbe had arrived at the Reichstag.

Lennings stated in his account that he and other members of his squad had protested the arrest of van der Lubbe “because we were convinced that van der Lubbe could not possibly have been the arsonist – according to our observation, the Reichstag had already been burning when we dropped him off there.”  He and the other witnesses were detained and forced to sign a paper that denied any knowledge of the incident. Later, nearly all of those with this knowledge of the Reichstag fire were executed. Lennings escaped to Czechoslovakia after a tip-off.

In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer conveyed General Franz Halder’s testimony at the Nuremberg Trials that Hermann Göring had boasted about setting the fire: “On the occasion of a lunch on the Führer’s birthday in 1943, the people around the Führer turned the conversation to the Reichstag building and its artistic value. I heard with my own ears how Göring broke into the conversation and shouted: ‘The only one who really knows about the Reichstag building is I, for I set fire to it.’ And saying this he slapped his thigh.”

Those responsible for the attack on the Reichstag – Germany’s equivalent of America’s Capitol Hill – were quietly ignored by a prejudiced media. The entire subject was then propagandized by the Nazis (one side in the German body politic) to weaken and crush its primary political opponent. Of course, at that time there was no possibility of doing proper investigative journalism. Nevertheless, there are lessons to be drawn from what took place 87 years ago.


Some helpful journalistic questions

Four questions regarding the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol might help to clarify some of those shocking events.

One, how many people were involved in the pro-Trump rally that day, and of those, how many were later physically present on the steps of the Capitol? Was the pro-Trump rally basically a peaceful one up to that point and everywhere else except at the Capitol? Was the outbreak of violence limited to events surrounding Capitol Hill and, if so, what might that mean?

Two, based on televised evidence showing extensive pre-planned preparations for an attack on the Capitol (ropes, Molotov cocktails, improvised explosive devices, plastic riot shields, megaphones, prior coordination by the cadre of riot leaders), is it accurate journalism to write that the rioting was simply a spontaneous expression of primitive pro-Trumpers worked up into a frenzy by the President’s rally speech? Or was it instead a hostile riot by domestic terror cells? If so, how many were leading that takeover and what groups were they representing, if that information can be uncovered? At this point, various leaders of the rioters connected to the QAnon movement have been identified and their photo IDs broadcast on public media. But would it then be accurate journalism to declare that QAnon actually speaks in the name of the Republican party?

Three, was there any strategic aspect to the timing of the riot, which interrupted the legal proceedings and the legal objections being presented regarding possible election fraud? Did the riot significantly alter the dynamics of those discussions and the proceedings which continued later that evening? Did the riots alter the entire tenor of the political debate on the Hill, including media-expressed attitudes toward the President of the United States? Were these results simply an unintended consequence not planned by the rioters, or were they their deliberately planned goal?  I am unaware up to this point in time of media discussions about these staggering issues.

Four, was the narrative quickly adopted by most media outlets (that the President was guilty of catalyzing these riots and that he and other Republicans should resign or be removed from public office) and the steps taken by most social media (that the President should be blocked from communicating) – were these informed by accurate reporting as to the identity of the rioters? Was due diligence exercised regarding the media’s and the Democratic leadership’s decision to publicly charge the Commander in Chief of the United States as guilty of treason and sedition? If these rioters hijacked a peaceful gathering of Americans supportive of legislative investigation and dialogue and did a violent end-run on it, why have most media ended up disseminating propaganda here instead of verifying and engaging in accurate journalistic reportage?  Have these rioters truly succeeded in hijacking and shutting down the public square of debate?

The mainstream media’s well-known anti-Republican perspective and their religious adherence to their own politically correct narrative-dogma have been around for some time. Yale University Professor Timothy Snyder remarked in July 2017 in an interview on the Chauncy DeVega Show podcast, that it was ‘pretty much inevitable’ that President Trump would stage a coup and overthrow democracy. In September 2020 Op-ed writers Will Bunch and Dana Millbank warned that Trump’s strategy is similar to Hitler’s at the Reichstag. “America, this is not a drill,” wrote Milbank, noting that he and most mainstream commentators have spent five years trying to avoid Nazi comparisons, but that Trump’s recent statements and actions have made it unavoidable.

These propagandistic perspectives are a journalism accident waiting to happen. A few hundred domestic terrorist were not able to trigger an insurrection, but they certainly have been able to control the talking points and agendas of most of American media networks.


Journalistic blood libels

African-American Civil Rights attorney Leo Terrell slammed Democrats for using the tragic events that unfolded at the Capitol to form the basis of talking points meant to blame President Trump for the riot.  Terrell criticized President-elect Biden for saying earlier in the day that Trump was guilty of “inciting a mob to attack the Capitol” when he never told anyone to be violent or destructive. “All Donald Trump said yesterday was go down to the Capitol building . . .  I listened to the Democratic Kool-Aid, you heard Joe Biden today, [Washington D.C. Mayor] Muriel Bowser, they are using this for Democratic talking points . . . All President Trump did, and he has the First Amendment right . . .  is to express his disappointment. He did not order those individuals to go down there and destroy that Capitol . . . There were criminals who invaded the Capitol building and they should be prosecuted, but the Democrats sat on their hands during the summer when rioters destroyed Democratic cities. For Joe Biden to play the race card today and say that there would have been different treatment for Black protestors . . . Criminals should be treated one way . . . I’m a lawyer for 30 years. If you go down and say, ‘Go down to the Capitol building and express your disappointment,’ that is not a criminal act . . .  Donald Trump never recommended, suggested or told those people to go in and break into the Capitol building.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Presumptive Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in urging Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office immediately, calling him “a very dangerous person” who committed an “act of sedition” on Wednesday. “What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” said Schumer in a statement on Thursday.

Democratic New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to resign: “Senator Cruz, you must accept responsibility for how your craven, self-serving actions contributed to the death of four people yesterday. And how you fundraised off this riot. Both you and Senator Hawley must resign. If you do not, the Senate should move for your expulsion.”


Setting the journalistic record straight

Both Democrats and Republicans should be on the same side of the barricades here, standing firm for the defense of the U.S.A. against domestic terrorism. Instead, the tragedy of Capitol Hill is being used to further divide the American people. Is it possible for the media to actually have a redemptive role here and help focus world attention on the glaringly ignored fact that a peaceful Republican gathering was hijacked by those who mean to do evil against all Americans?

The Reichstag Fire was planned, catalyzed and spun by the Nazis for Nazi goals. The assault on the American Capitol was planned, catalyzed and spun by domestic American terrorists in order to hijack America’s government and shut down its discussion about election results. Evil people can still make political hay of this crisis – “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” it has been said. The need for prayer, soft-spoken dialogue focusing on discovering the truth here, and repentance for America’s many departures from God’s truth has never been greater.


How should we then pray?

  • Pray for an awakening regarding the nature and strategies of spiritual warfare regarding these events
  • Pray for the spirit of humility, grace and supplications to be poured out on the U.S.A
  • Pray for ardent prevailing prayer to arise for God’s purposes here
  • Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people

 Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

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