Marinus van der Lubbe,
Marinus van der Lubbe (13 January 1909 – 10 January 1934) was a Dutch communist who was tried, convicted and executed for setting fire to the German Reichstag building on 27 February 1933, an event known as the Reichstag fire.
Marinus van der Lubbe was born in Leiden in the province of South Holland. His parents were divorced, and after his mother died when he was twelve years old, he went to live with his half-sister’s family. In his youth, Van der Lubbe worked as a bricklayer. He was nicknamed Dempsey after boxer Jack Dempsey because of his great strength. While working, Van der Lubbe came in contact with the labour movement; in 1925, at age 16, he joined the Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN) and its youth wing, the Communist Youth Bund (CJB).
In 1926, he was injured at work, getting lime in his eyes, which hospitalized him for a few months and almost left him blind. Since the injury forced him to quit his job, he was unemployed with a pension of only 7.44 guilders a week. After a few conflicts with his sister, Van der Lubbe moved to Leiden in 1927. There, he learned to speak some German and founded the Lenin House, where he organised political meetings. While working for the Tielmann factory, a strike broke out. Van der Lubbe claimed to the management to be one of the ringleaders and offered to accept any punishment if no one else was victimised, even though he was clearly too inexperienced to have been seriously involved. During the trial, he tried to claim sole responsibility and was purportedly hostile to the idea of getting off free.
Afterwards, Van der Lubbe planned to emigrate to the Soviet Union, but he lacked the funds to do so. He was politically active among the unemployed workers’ movement until 1931, when he fell into disagreement with the CPN and instead approached the Group of International Communists. In 1933, Van der Lubbe fled to Germany to take action in the local communist underground. He had a criminal record for several attempted arsons.