Hermann Göring: Wikis


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Hermann Wilhelm Göring

In office
President Paul von Hindenburg
Adolf Hitler
Chancellor Heinrich Brüning
Franz von Papen
Kurt von Schleicher
Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Paul Löbe
Succeeded by none

In office
11 April 1933 [1] – 24 April 1945
Governor Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Franz von Papen
Succeeded by Prussia abolished

In office
Prime Minister Himself
Preceded by Adolf Hitler
Succeeded by Prussia abolished

In office
April 1933 – April 1945
President Paul von Hindenburg
Adolf Hitler
Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Robert Ritter von Greim

In office
July 1934 – April 1945
President Paul von Hindenburg
Adolf Hitler
Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by N/A

Born January 12, 1893(1893-01-12)[1]
Rosenheim, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died October 15, 1946 (aged 53)[1]
Nuremberg, Germany
(Suicide by poison)
Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Spouse(s) Carin von Kantznow
(1923–1931, deceased)
Emmy Sonnemann
Children 1
Religion Lutheran

Hermann Wilhelm Göring (also spelled Goering)[2] About this sound listen (12 January 1893– 15 October 1946)[1] was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. Among many offices, he was Hitler's designated successor, and commander of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). He was a veteran of the First World War as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite ("The Blue Max"). He was the last commander of Jagdgeschwader 1, the air squadron of Manfred von Richthofen, "The Red Baron".

After the Second World War, Göring was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials. He was sentenced to death by hanging, but committed suicide by cyanide ingestion the night before he was due to be hanged.


Family background and relatives

Göring was born on 12 January, 1893 at the Marienbad sanatorium in Rosenheim, Bavaria. His father Heinrich Ernst Göring (31 October, 1839– 7 December, 1913) had been the first Governor-General of the German protectorate of South West Africa (modern day Namibia)[3] as well as being a former cavalry officer and member of the German consular service. Göring had among his paternal ancestors Eberle/Eberlin, a Swiss-German family of high bourgeoisie.

Göring was a relative of such Eberle/Eberlin descendants as the German aviation pioneer Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin; German romantic nationalist Hermann Grimm (1828–1901), an author of the concept of the German hero as a mover of history, whom the Nazis claimed as one of their ideological forerunners; the industrialist family Merck, the owners of the pharmaceutical giant Merck; German Baroness Gertrud von Le Fort, one of the world's major Catholic writers and poets of the 20th century, whose works were largely inspired by her revulsion against Nazism; and Carl J. Burckhardt, Swiss diplomat, historian, and President of the International Red Cross.

In a historical coincidence, Göring was related via the Eberle/Eberlin line to Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897), a great Swiss scholar of art and culture who was a major political and social thinker as well an opponent of nationalism and militarism, who rejected German claims of cultural and intellectual superiority and predicted a cataclysmic 20th century in which violent demagogues, whom he called "terrible simplifiers", would play central roles.[4]

Göring's mother Franziska "Fanny" Tiefenbrunn (1859 – 15 July, 1923) came from a Bavarian peasant family. The marriage of a gentleman to a lower class woman occurred only because Heinrich Ernst Göring was a widower. Hermann Göring was one of five children; his brothers were Albert Göring and Karl Göring, and his sisters were Olga Therese Sophia Göring and Paula Elisabeth Rosa Göring, the last of whom were from his father's first marriage.[5] Although anti-semitism had become rampant in Germany at that time, his parents were not anti-Semitic[citation needed].

Hermann Göring's elder brother, Karl, emigrated to the United States. Karl's son, Werner G. Göring, became a Captain in the United States Army Air Forces opposing his uncle's Luftwaffe during the Second World War. He participated in bombing runs over Germany. Göring's younger brother Albert Göring was opposed to the Nazi regime and helped Jews and other dissidents in Germany during the Nazi era. In one instance, Albert helped Hermann himself by intervening on behalf of one of his wife’s film colleagues, Henny Porten. Henny, an erstwhile sweetheart of German cinema, found herself professionally ostracised after she refused to divorce her Jewish husband, Dr. William von Kaufman. After meeting Henny in a Hamburg hotel and learning of her predicament, Emmy Göring pleaded with Hermann to call his younger brother Albert, who was, at the time, the technical director of Tobis-Sascha Filmindustrie AG in Vienna. Hermann made the call, and Albert duly arranged Henny a film contract in Vienna, ensuring her a livelihood.[6]

Göring's other nephew, Hans-Joachim Göring, was a pilot in the Luftwaffe with III./Zerstörergeschwader 76, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110. Hans-Joachim was killed in action on 11 July, 1940, when his Bf 110 was shot down by Hawker Hurricanes of No. 78 Squadron RAF. His aircraft crashed into Portland Harbour, Dorset, England.[7]

Early life and Ritter von Epenstein

Göring later claimed his given name was chosen to honor the Arminius who defeated the Roman legions at Teutoburg Forest. However the name was possibly to honor his godfather, a Christian of Jewish descent[8] born Hermann Epenstein. Epenstein, whose father was an army surgeon in Berlin, became a wealthy physician and businessman and a major if not paternal influence on Göring's childhood. Hermann's father held diplomatic posts in Africa and in Haiti, climates considered too harsh for a young European child. This resulted in lengthy separation from his parents, and much of Hermann's very early childhood was spent with governesses and with distant relatives. Heinrich Göring retired circa 1898, and had to support his large family solely on his civil service pension. Thus for financial reasons the Görings became permanent house guests of their longtime friend, Göring's probable namesake. Epenstein had acquired a minor title (through service and donation to the Crown) and was now Hermann, Ritter von Epenstein.

Von Epenstein purchased two largely dilapidated castles, Burg Veldenstein in Bavaria and Burg Mauterndorf near Salzburg, Austria, whose very expensive restorations were ongoing by the time of Hermann Göring's birth. Both castles were to be residences of the Göring family, their official "caretakers" until 1913. Both castles were also ultimately to be Hermann's property.

Göring in 1907, at about age 14

According to some biographers of both Hermann Göring and his younger brother Albert Göring, soon after the family took residence in his castles, von Epenstein began an adulterous relationship with Frau Göring[9] and may in fact have been Albert's father. (Albert's physical resemblance to von Epenstein was noted even during his childhood and is evident in photographs.) Whatever the nature of von Epenstein's relationship with his mother, the young Hermann Göring enjoyed a close relationship with his godfather.

Göring was initially unaware of von Epenstein's Jewish ancestry. He was enrolled in a prestigious Austrian boarding school, where his tuition was paid by von Epenstein. Then he wrote an essay in praise of his godfather and was mocked by the school's anti-Semitic headmaster for professing such admiration for a Jew. Göring denied the allegation, but was then presented with proof in the "Semi-Gotha"[8], a book which catalogued German-speaking nobility of insufficient status to be listed in the Almanach de Gotha. (Von Epenstein had bought his title and castles, and so was relegated to the lesser reference.) Göring remained steadfast in his devotion to his family's friend and patron so adamantly that he left the school and used what money he had to purchase a train ticket home. The action seems to have tightened the already considerable bond between godfather and godson.[citation needed]

Relations between the Göring family and von Epenstein became far more formal during Göring's adolescence (causing Mosley and other biographers to speculate that perhaps the theorized affair ended naturally or that the elderly Heinrich discovered he was a cuckold and threatened its exposure). By the time of Heinrich Göring's death, the family no longer lived in a residence supplied by von Epenstein, or seemed to have much contact at all with him. The family's comfortable circumstances indicate the Ritter may have continued to support them financially. Late in his life, Ritter von Epenstein married Lily, a singer who was half his age. He bequeathed her his estate in his will, but requested that she in turn bequeath the castles at Mauterndorf and Veldenstein to his godson Hermann upon her own death.

First World War

Video clip of Hermann Göring in his cockpit in the First World War

Göring was sent to boarding school at Ansbach, Franconia and then attended the cadet institutes at Karlsruhe and the military college at Berlin Lichterfelde. Göring was commissioned in the Prussian army on 22 June 1912 in the Prinz Wilhelm Regiment (112th Infantry), headquartered at Mulhouse as part of the 29th Division of the Imperial German Army.

During the first year of World War I, Göring served with an infantry regiment in the Vosges region. He was hospitalized with rheumatism resulting from the damp of trench warfare. While he was recovering, his friend Bruno Loerzer convinced him to transfer to the Luftstreitkräfte ("air combat force") of the German army. Göring's transfer request was turned down. But later that year Göring flew as Loerzer's observer in Feldfliegerabteilung 25 (FFA 25) - Göring had informally transferred himself. He was detected and sentenced to three weeks' confinement to barracks. The sentence was never carried out: by the time it was imposed Göring's association with Loerzer had been regularized. They were assigned as a team to FFA 25 in the Crown Prince's Fifth Army – "though it seems that they had to steal a plane in order to qualify."[10] They flew reconnaissance and bombing missions for which the Crown Prince invested both Göring and Loerzer with the Iron Cross, first class.

On completing his pilot's training course he was posted back to FFA 2 in October 1915. Göring had already claimed two air victories as an Observer (one unconfirmed). He gained another flying a Fokker E.III single-seater scout in March 1916. In October 1916 he was posted to Jagdstaffel 5, but was wounded in action in November. In February 1917 he joined Jagdstaffel 26. He now scored steadily until in May 1917 he got his first command, Jasta 27. Serving with Jastas 5, 26 and 27, he claimed 21 air victories. Besides the Iron Cross, he was awarded the Zaehring Lion with swords, the Karl Friedrich Order and the House Order of Hohenzollern with swords, third class, and finally in May 1918, the coveted Pour le Mérite.[11] On 7 July 1918, after the death of Wilhelm Reinhard, the successor of The Red Baron, he was made commander of the famed "Flying Circus", Jagdgeschwader 1.

In June 1917, after a lengthy dogfight, Göring shot down Australian pilot Frank Slee. The battle is recounted in The Rise and Fall of Hermann Goering. Göring landed and met the Australian, and presented Slee with his Iron Cross. Years after, Slee gave Göring's Iron Cross to a friend, who later died on the beach during the Normandy Landings. Also during the war Göring had through his generous treatment made a friend of his prisoner of war Captain Frank Beaumont, a Royal Flying Corps pilot. "It was part of Goering's creed to admire a good enemy, and he did his best to keep Captain Beaumont from being taken over by the Army."[12]

Göring finished the war with twenty-two confirmed kills.

Because of his arrogance, Göring's appointment as commander of Jagdgeschwader 1 had not been well received.[13] When demobilized during the first weeks of November 1918, Göring and his officers spent most of their time in the Stiftskeller, the best restaurant and drinking place in Aschaffenburg. Yet he was the only veteran of Jagdgeschwader 1 never invited to post-war reunions.[14]

Göring was genuinely surprised (at least by his own account) at Germany's defeat in the First World War. He felt personally violated by the surrender, the Kaiser's abdication, the humiliating terms, and the supposed treachery of the post-war German politicians who had "goaded the people [to uprising] [and] who [had] stabbed our glorious Army in the back [thinking] of nothing but of attaining power and of enriching themselves at the expense of the people."[15] Ordered to surrender the planes of his squadron to the Allies in December 1918, Göring and his fellow pilots intentionally wrecked the planes on landing. This action paralleled the scuttling of surrendered ships. Typical for the political climate of the day, he was not arrested or even officially reprimanded for his action.

Post war

He remained in flying after the war, worked briefly at Fokker, tried "barnstorming", and in 1921 he joined Svenska Lufttrafik, a Swedish airline. He was also listed on the officer rolls of the Reichswehr, the post-World War I peacetime army of Germany, and by 1933 had risen to the rank of General major. He was made a Generalleutnant in 1935 and then a General in the Luftwaffe upon its founding later that year.

Göring as a veteran pilot was often hired to fly businessmen and others on private aircraft. He worked in Denmark and Sweden as a commercial pilot. One wintry evening he was hired by Count Eric von Rosen to fly him to his castle from Stockholm. Invited to spend the night there, it may have been here that Göring first saw the swastika emblem, a family badge which was set in the chimney piece around the roaring fire.[16]

This was also the first time Göring saw his future wife. A great staircase led down into the hall opposite the fireplace. As Göring looked up he saw a woman coming down the staircase as if toward him. He thought she was very beautiful. The count introduced his sister-in-law Baroness Carin von Kantzow (née Freiin von Fock, 1888–1931) to the twenty-seven year old Göring.[17]

Carin was a tall, maternal, unhappy, sentimental woman five years Göring's senior, estranged from her husband and in delicate health. Göring was immediately smitten with her. Carin's eldest sister and biographer claimed that it was love at first sight. Carin was carefully looked after by her parents as well as by Count and Countess von Rosen. She was also married and had an eight-year-old son Thomas to whom she was devoted. No romance other than one of courtly love was possible at this point.[17]

First marriage

Carin divorced her estranged husband, Niels Gustav von Kantzow, in December 1922. She married Göring on 3 January 1923 in Stockholm. Von Kantzow behaved generously. He provided a financial settlement which enabled Carin and Göring to set up their first home together in Germany. It was a hunting lodge at Hochkreuth in the Bavarian Alps, near Bayrischzell, some 50 miles from Munich.

Early Nazi

Hermann Göring as the SA Commander in 1923 wearing his Pour le Mérite

Göring joined the Nazi Party in 1922 and took over leadership of the Sturmabteilung (SA) as the Oberste SA-Führer. After stepping down as SA Commander, he was appointed an SA-Gruppenführer (Lieutenant General) and held this rank on the SA rolls until 1945. Hitler later recalled his early association with Göring thus:

I liked him. I made him the head of my S.A. He is the only one of its heads that ran the S.A. properly. I gave him a disheveled rabble. In a very short time he had organised a division of 11,000 men.[18]

At this time Carin, who liked Hitler, often played hostess to meetings of leading Nazis including her husband, Hitler, Hess, Rosenberg and Röhm.

Göring was with Hitler in the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich on 9 November 1923. He marched beside Hitler at the head of the SA. When the Bavarian police broke up the march with gunfire, Göring was seriously wounded in the groin.

Addiction and exile

Although he was stricken with pneumonia, Carin arranged for Göring to be spirited away to Austria. Göring was in no fit state to travel and the journey may have aggravated his condition, although he did avoid arrest. Göring was X-rayed and operated on in the hospital at Innsbruck. Carin wrote to her mother from Göring's bedside on 8 December 1923 describing his terrible pain: "... in spite of being dosed with morphine every day, his pain stays just as bad as ever."[19] This was the beginning of his morphine addiction, which would last until his imprisonment at Nuremberg.[20] Meanwhile in Munich the authorities declared Göring a wanted man.

The Görings, acutely short of funds and reliant on the good will of Nazi sympathizers abroad, moved from Austria to Venice, then in May 1924 to Rome via Florence and Siena. Göring met Benito Mussolini in Rome. Mussolini expressed some interest in meeting Hitler, by then in prison, on his release.[21] Personal problems, however, continued to multiply. Göring's mother had died in 1923. By 1925 it was Carin's mother who was ill. The Görings, with difficulty, raised the money for a journey in spring 1925 to Sweden via Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Danzig. Göring had become a violent morphine addict and Carin's family were shocked by his deterioration when they saw him. Carin, herself an epileptic, had to let the doctors and police take full charge of Göring. He was certified a dangerous drug addict and placed in the violent ward of Långbro asylum on 1 September 1925. Biographer Roger Manvell quoted a Stockholm psychiatrist who had seen him before he was committed to Långbro: "Göring was very violent and had to be placed in a straitjacket but was not insane."[22]

The 1925 psychiatrist's reports claimed Göring to be weak of character, a hysteric and unstable personality, sentimental yet callous, violent when afraid and a person whose bravado hid a basic lack of moral courage. "Like many men capable of great acts of physical courage which verge quite often on desperation, he lacked the finer kind of courage in the conduct of his life which was needed when serious difficulties overcame him."[23]

At the time of Göring's detention all doctors' reports in Sweden were matters of public record. In 1925, Carin sued for custody of her son. Niels von Kantzow, her ex-husband, used a doctor's report on Carin and Göring as evidence to show that neither of them was fit to look after the boy, and so von Kantzow kept custody. The reports were also used by political opponents in Germany.

Carin Göring died of heart failure on 17 October 1931.

Possible responsibility for the Reichstag fire

Marinus van der Lubbe, an ex-Communist radical, was arrested on the scene and claimed sole responsibility for the Reichstag fire. But many observers believed that the Nazis set the fire to justify the subsequent crackdown. Göring in particular was suspected: he was first on the scene, and both Hitler and Goebbels were apparently surprised by the news. At Nuremberg, General Franz Halder testified that Göring admitted responsibility:

At a luncheon on the birthday of Hitler in 1942... [Göring said]... "The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!" With that he slapped his thigh with the flat of his hand.

Göring in his own Nuremberg testimony denied this story. It remains unclear whether or not Göring was responsible for the fire. The following is a transcript excerpt from the Nuremberg Trials:

GOERING: This conversation did not take place and I request that I be confronted with Herr Halder. First of all I want to emphasize that what is written here is utter nonsense. It says, "The only one who really knows the Reichstag is I." The Reichstag was known to every representative in the Reichstag. The fire took place only in the general assembly room, and many hundreds or thousands of people knew this room as well as I did. A statement of this type is utter nonsense. How Herr Halder came to make that statement I do not know. Apparently that bad memory, which also let him down in military matters, is the only explanation.
MR. ROBERT JACKSON: You know who Halder is?
GOERING: Only too well.
GOERING: That accusation that I had set fire to the Reichstag came from a certain foreign press. That could not bother me because it was not consistent with the facts. I had no reason or motive for setting fire to the Reichstag. From the artistic point of view I did not at all regret that the assembly chamber was burned – I hoped to build a better one. But I did regret very much that I was forced to find a new meeting place for the Reichstag and, not being able to find one, I had to give up my Kroll Opera House, that is, the second State Opera House, for that purpose. The opera seemed to me much more important than the Reichstag.
MR. ROBERT JACKSON: Have you ever boasted of burning the Reichstag building, even by way of joking?
GOERING: No. I made a joke, if that is the one you are referring to, when I said that, 'after this, I should be competing with Nero and that probably people would soon be saying that, dressed in a red toga and holding a lyre in my hand, I looked on at the fire and played while the Reichstag was burning'. That was the joke. But the fact was that I almost perished in the flames, which would have been very unfortunate for the German people, but very fortunate for their enemies.
MR. ROBERT JACKSON: You never stated then that you burned the Reichstag?
GOERING: No. I know that Herr Rauschning said in the book which he wrote, and which has often been referred to here, that I had discussed this with him. I saw Herr Rauschning only twice in my life and only for a short time on each occasion. If I had set fire to the Reichstag, I would presumably have let that be known only to my closest circle of confidants, if at all. I would not have told it to a man whom I did not know and whose appearance I could not describe at all today. That is an absolute distortion of the truth.

Second marriage

During the early 1930s Göring was often in the company of Emmy Sonnemann (1893–1973), an actress from Hamburg. He proposed to her in Weimar in February 1935. The wedding took place on 10 April 1935 in Berlin and was celebrated like the marriage of an emperor. They had a daughter, Edda Göring (born 2 June 1938) who was reportedly named after Countess Edda Ciano, eldest child of Benito Mussolini,[24] although other sources say she was named after a friend of her mother.[citation needed]

Nazi potentate

Göring was one of the key figures in the process of Gleichschaltung ("forcible coordination") that established the Nazi dictatorship. For example, in 1933, Göring banned all Roman Catholic newspapers in Germany, not only to suppress resistance to National Socialism but also to deprive the population of alternative forms of association and means of political communication.

Göring's uniform on display at the Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr

In the Nazi regime's early years, Göring served as minister in various key positions at both the Reich (German national) level and other levels as required. For example, in the state of Prussia, Göring was responsible for the economy as well as re-armament.

In Prussia, his police forces included the Gestapo, which he converted into a political secret police force. On 20 April 1934, Göring and Himmler agreed to put aside their differences (largely because of mutual hatred and growing dread of the SA or Sturmabteilung) and Göring transferred full authority over the Gestapo to Himmler, who was also named chief of all German police forces outside Prussia. With the Gestapo under their control, Himmler and Heydrich plotted (with Göring) to use it with the SS to crush the SA. Göring retained Special Police Battalion Wecke, which he converted to a paramilitary unit attached to the Landespolizei (State Police), Landespolizeigruppe General Göring. This formation participated in the Night of the Long Knives, when the SA leaders were purged. Göring was head of the Forschungsamt (FA), which secretly monitored telephone and radio communications, The FA was connected to the SS, the SD, and Abwehr intelligence services.

In 1936, he became Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan for German rearmament, where he effectively took control of the economy – as economics minister Hjalmar Schacht became increasingly reluctant to pursue rapid rearmament and eventually resigned. The vast steel plant Reichswerke Hermann Göring was named after him. He gained great influence with Hitler (who placed a high value on rearmament). He never seemed to accept the Hitler Myth quite as much as Goebbels and Himmler, but remained loyal nevertheless.

In 1938, Göring forced out the War Minister, Field Marshal von Blomberg, and the Army commander, General von Fritsch. They had welcomed Hitler's accession in 1933, but then annoyed him by criticising his plans for expansionist wars. Göring, who had been best man at Blomberg's recent wedding to a 26-year-old typist, discovered that the young woman was a former prostitute, and blackmailed him into resigning. Fritsch was accused of homosexual activity and, though completely innocent, resigned in shock and disgust. He was later exonerated by a "court of honor" presided over by Göring.

Also in 1938, Göring played a key role in the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria. At the height of the crisis, Göring spoke on the telephone to Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg. Göring announced Germany's intent to march into Austria, and threatened war and the destruction of Austria if there was any resistance. Schuschnigg collapsed, and the German army marched into Austria without resistance.

Personal qualities

The confiscation of Jewish property gave Göring great opportunities to amass a personal fortune. Some properties he seized himself, or acquired for a nominal price. In other cases, he collected bribes for allowing others to steal Jewish property. He also took kickbacks from industrialists for favourable decisions as Four Year Plan director.

Göring also "collected" several other offices, such as Reichsforst- und Jägermeister (Reich Master of the Forest and Hunt), for which he received high government salaries.

In 1933 Göring acquired a vast estate in the Schorfheide Forest in Brandenburg, 40 km northeast of Berlin, and built his great manor house there. It was named Carinhall in memory of his first wife Carin. He exulted in aristocratic trappings, such as a coat of arms, and ceremonial swords and daggers, such as the Wedding Sword (an oversized broadsword with elaborate gold hilts presented to Göring at his 1935 wedding to Emmy). He also owned many fancy uniforms and much gaudy jewelry.[citation needed]

Göring was also noted for his patronage of music, especially opera. He entertained frequently and lavishly. Most infamously, he collected art, looting from numerous museums (some in Germany itself), stealing from Jewish collectors, or buying for grossly discounted prices in occupied countries.

When Göring was promoted to the unique rank of Reichsmarschall, he designed an elaborate personal flag for himself. The design included a German eagle, swastika, and crossed marshal's batons on one side, and on the other the Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes ("Grand Cross of the Iron Cross") between four Luftwaffe eagles. He had the flag carried by a personal standard-bearer at all public occasions.

Standard, on display at the Musée de la Guerre in Les Invalides

Göring was known for his extravagant tastes and garish clothing. Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the top Stuka pilot of the war, recalled twice meeting Göring dressed in outlandish costumes: first, a medieval hunting costume, practicing archery with his doctor, and second, dressed in a russet toga fastened with a golden clasp, smoking an abnormally large pipe. Italian Foreign Minister Ciano once noted Göring wearing a fur coat looking like what "a high grade prostitute wears to the opera."[25] His personal car, dubbed "The Blue Goose", was an aviation blue Mercedes 540K Special Cabriolet. It had luxurious features, as well as special additions, including bullet-proof glass and bomb resistant armor for protection, and modifications to allow him to fit his girth behind the wheel.[26]

Though he liked to be called "der Eiserne" (the Iron Man), the once-dashing and muscular fighter pilot had become flabby and obese. He was however one of the few Nazi leaders who did not take offence at hearing jokes about himself, "no matter how rude," taking them as a sign of his popularity. Germans joked about his ego, saying that he would wear an admiral's uniform to take a bath, and his obesity, joking that "he sits down on his stomach."[27]

Göring and foreign policy

Göring was certainly an ardent Nazi and utterly loyal to Hitler. But his preferences in foreign policy were different. The German diplomatic historian Klaus Hildebrand in his study of German foreign policy in the Nazi era noted that besides Hitler's foreign policy program that there were three rival programs supported by factions in the Nazi Party, whom Hildebrand dubbed the agrarians, the revolutionary socialists, and the Wilhelmine Imperialists.[28]

Göring was the most prominent of the Wilhelmine Imperialists. This group wanted to restore the German frontiers of 1914, regain the pre-1914 overseas empire, and make Eastern Europe Germany's exclusive sphere of influence. This was a much more limited set of goals than Hitler's dream of Lebensraum to be carved out with merciless racial wars. By contrast, Göring and the Wilhelmine Imperialist faction were more guided by traditional Machtpolitik in their foreign policy conceptions.[29] Furthermore, they expected to achieve their goals within the established international order. While not rejecting war as an option, they preferred diplomacy and sought political domination in eastern Europe rather than the military conquests envisioned by Hitler. They also rejected Hitler's mystical vision of war as a necessary ordeal for the nation, and of perpetual war as desirable. Göring himself feared that a major war might interfere with his luxurious lifestyle. Göring's advocacy of this policy led to his temporary exclusion by Hitler for a time in 1938–39 from foreign policy decisions. Göring's unwillingness to offer a major challenge to Hitler prevented him from offering any serious resistance to Hitler's policies, and the Wilhelmine Imperialists had no real influence.[30][31][32]

Göring had some private doubts about the wisdom of Hitler’s policies attacking Poland, which he felt would cause a world war, and was anxious to see a compromise solution. This was especially the case as the Forschungsamt (FA), Göring's private intelligence agency, had broken the codes the British Embassy in Berlin used to communicate with London. The FA's work showed that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was determined to go to war if Germany invaded Poland in 1939. This directly contradicted the advice given to Hitler by Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (a man whom Göring loathed at the best of times) that Chamberlain would not honor the “guarantee” he had given Poland in March 1939 if Germany attacked that country.

In the summer of 1939, Göring and the rest of the Wilhelmine Imperialists made a last ditch effort to assert their foreign policy program. Göring was involved in desperate attempts to avert a war in by using various amateur diplomats, such as his deputy Helmuth Wohltat at the Four Year Plan organization, British civil servant Sir Horace Wilson, newspaper proprietor Lord Kemsley, and would be peace-makers like Swedish businessmen Axel Wenner-Gren and Birger Dahlerus, who served as couriers between Göring and various British officials.[33] All of these efforts came to naught because Hitler (who much preferred Ribbentrop’s assessment of Britain to Göring's) would not be deterred from attacking Poland in 1939, and the Wilhelmine Imperialists were unwilling and unable to challenge Hitler despite their reservations about his foreign policy.

Complicity in the Holocaust

Göring's letter to Reinhard Heydrich ordering him to arrange "für eine Gesamtlösung der Judenfrage im deutschen Einflußgebiet in Europa" – 'for a final solution of the Jewish Question in the German sphere of influence in Europe'.

Despite his protestations to the contrary at Nuremberg, Göring was anti-Semitic. He occasionally intervened to shield individual Jews from harm, sometimes in exchange for a bribe, sometimes after a request from his wife Emmy or his anti-Nazi brother Albert. Despite these sporadic actions to help individuals, Göring was directly complicit in the Holocaust: he was the highest figure in the Nazi hierarchy to issue written orders for the "final solution of the Jewish Question", when he issued a memo to Reinhard Heydrich to organize the practical details. This resulted in the Wannsee Conference. Göring wrote, "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative, financial and material measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question."

Head of the Luftwaffe

When the Nazis took power, Göring was Minister of Civil Air Transport, which was a screen for the build-up of German military aviation, prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles. When Hitler repudiated Versailles, in 1935, the Luftwaffe was unveiled, with Göring as Minister and Oberbefehlshaber (Supreme Commander). In 1938, he became the first Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) of the Luftwaffe; this promotion also made him the highest ranking officer in Germany. Göring directed the rapid creation of this new branch of service. Within a few years, Germany produced large numbers of the world's most advanced military aircraft.

In 1936, Göring at Hitler's direction sent several hundred aircraft along with several thousand air and ground crew, to assist the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. This became known as the Condor Legion.

By 1939 the Luftwaffe was one of the most advanced and powerful air forces in the world.

Göring's army

Unusually, the Luftwaffe also included its own ground troops, which became in a sense, Göring's private army. German Fallschirmjäger (parachute and glider) troops were organised as part of the Luftwaffe, not as part of the Army. Subject to rigorous training, they came to be regarded as elite troops, much the same as the paratroopers of the British and American armies. Fallschirmjäger units were awarded 134 Knight's Cross of the Iron Crosses between the years 1940–1945.[34]

In addition to the Fallschirmjäger, there were also the Luftwaffe Field Divisions, which were organised as basic infantry units but were led by officers with little training for ground combat, and generally performed badly as combat troops as a result. The Herman Goring Panzer Division was also raised and served with distinction in the Italian campaign.

Second World War

Göring's Reichsmarschall baton and S&W revolver

Göring was skeptical of Hitler's war plans. He believed Germany was not prepared for a new conflict and, in particular, that his Luftwaffe was not yet ready to beat the British Royal Air Force (RAF).

However, once Hitler decided on war, Göring supported him completely. On 1 September 1939, the first day of the war, Hitler spoke to the Reichstag. In this speech he designated Göring as his successor "if anything should befall me."

Initially, decisive German victories followed quickly one after the other. The Luftwaffe destroyed the Polish Air Force within two weeks. The Fallschirmjäger seized key airfields in Norway and captured Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium. German air-to-ground attacks served as the "flying artillery" of the Panzer troops in the blitzkrieg of France. "Leave it to my Luftwaffe" became Göring's perpetual gloat.

After the defeat of France, Hitler awarded Göring the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross for his successful leadership. By a decree on 19 July 1940, Hitler promoted Göring to the rank of Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches (Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich), a special rank which made him senior to all other Army and Luftwaffe Field Marshals. It also reinforced his status as Hitler's chosen successor.

Göring's political and military careers were at their peak. Göring had already received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 September 1939 as Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe.[35]

Göring promised Hitler that the Luftwaffe would quickly destroy the RAF, or break British morale with devastating air raids. He personally directed the first attacks on Britain from his private luxury train. But the Luftwaffe failed to gain control of the skies in the Battle of Britain. This was Hitler's first defeat. Britain withstood the worst Luftwaffe bombers could do for the eight months of "the Blitz" without being cowed by circumstances.

However, the damage inflicted on British cities largely maintained Göring's prestige. The Luftwaffe destroyed Belgrade in April 1941, and Fallschirmjäger captured Crete from the British army in May 1941.

The Eastern Front

If Göring had been skeptical about war against Britain and France, he was absolutely certain that a new campaign against the Soviet Union was doomed to defeat. After trying, completely in vain, to convince Hitler to give up Operation Barbarossa, he embraced the campaign. Hitler still relied on him completely. On 29 June, Hitler composed a special 'testament', which was kept secret till the end of the war. This formally designated Göring as "my deputy in all my offices" if Hitler was unable to function as dictator of Germany, and his successor if he died. Ironically, Göring did not know the contents of this testament, which was marked "To be opened only by the Reichsmarschall", until after leaving Berlin in April 1945 for Berchtesgaden, where it had been kept.

The Luftwaffe shared in the initial victories in the east, destroying thousands of Soviet aircraft. But as Soviet resistance grew and the weather turned bad, the Luftwaffe became overstretched and exhausted.

Göring by this time had lost interest in administering the Luftwaffe. That duty was left to others like Udet and Jeschonnek. Aircraft production lagged. Yet Göring persisted in outlandish promises. When the Soviets surrounded a German army in Stalingrad in 1942, Göring encouraged Hitler to fight for the city rather than retreat. He asserted that the Luftwaffe would deliver 500 tons per day of supplies to the trapped force. In fact no more than 100 tons were ever delivered in a day, and usually much less. While Göring's men struggled to fly in the savage Russian winter, Göring celebrated his 50th birthday.

Göring was in charge of exploiting the vast industrial resources captured during the war, particularly in the Soviet Union. This proved to be an almost total failure, and little of the available potential was effectively harnessed for the service of the German military machine.

The bomber war

On 9 August 1939, Göring boasted "The Ruhr will not be subjected to a single bomb. If an enemy bomber reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Hermann Göring: you can call me Meier!" ("I want to be called Meier if ..." is a German idiom to express that something is impossible. Meier [in several spelling variants] is the second most common surname in Germany.) He also said he would eat his hat.

But as early as 1940, British aircraft raided targets in Germany, debunking Göring's assurance that the Reich would never be attacked — the British were, throughout the war, destined to be his personal undoing.

By 1942, hundreds of Allied bombers were bombing Germany; occasionally as many as a thousand. The Luftwaffe responded with night fighters and anti-aircraft guns, but entire cities such as Cologne (Köln) and Hamburg were destroyed anyway. Göring was still nominally in charge, but in practice he had little to do with operations. When Göring visited the devastated cities, civilians called out "Hello, Mr. Meier. How's your hat?" By the end of the war, Berlin's air raid sirens were bitterly known to the city's residents as "Meier's trumpets", or "Meier's hunting horns." Civilians would also call the bomber war "a defeat in every city".

Göring's prestige, reputation, and influence with Hitler all declined, especially after the Stalingrad debacle. Hitler could not publicly repudiate him without embarrassment, but contact between them largely stopped. Göring withdrew from the military and political scene to enjoy the pleasures of life as a wealthy and powerful man. His reputation for extravagance made him particularly unpopular as ordinary Germans began to suffer deprivation.

The end of the war

In 1945, Göring fled the Berlin area with trainloads of treasures for the Nazi alpine resort in Berchtesgaden. Soon afterward, the Luftwaffe's chief of staff, Karl Koller, arrived with unexpected news: Hitler, who had by this time conceded that Germany had lost, had suggested that Göring would be better suited to negotiate peace terms. To Koller, this seemed to indicate that Hitler wanted Göring to take over the leadership of the Reich.

Göring was initially unsure of what to do, largely because he didn't want to give Martin Bormann, who now controlled access to Hitler, a window to seize greater power. He thought that if he waited he'd be accused of dereliction of duty. On the other hand, he feared being accused of treason if he did try to assume power. He then pulled his copy of Hitler's secret decree of 1941 from a safe. It clearly stated that Göring was not only Hitler's designated successor, but was to act as his deputy if Hitler ever became incapacitated. Göring, Koller, and Hans Lammers, the state secretary of the Reich Chancellery, all agreed that Hitler was incapacitated from governing and that Göring had a clear duty to assume power as Hitler's deputy.

On 23 April, as Soviet troops closed in around Berlin, Göring sent the Göring Telegram by radio to Hitler, asking Hitler to confirm that he was to take over the "total leadership of the Reich." He added that if he did not hear back from Hitler by 10 PM, he would assume Hitler was incapacitated, and would assume leadership of the Reich.

However, Bormann received the telegram before Hitler did. He portrayed it as an ultimatum to surrender power or face a coup d'état. On 25 April, Hitler issued a telegram to Göring telling him that he had committed "high treason" and gave him the option of resigning all of his offices in exchange for his life. However, not long after that, Bormann ordered the SS in Berchtesgaden to arrest Göring. In his last will and testament, Hitler dismissed Göring from all of his offices and expelled him from the Nazi Party.

Shortly after Hitler completed his will, Bormann ordered the SS to execute Göring, his wife, and their daughter (Hitler's own goddaughter) if Berlin were to fall. But this order was ignored. Instead, the Görings and their SS captors moved together, to the same Schloß Mauterndorf where Göring had spent much of his childhood and which he had inherited (along with Burg Veldenstein) from his godfather's widow in 1938. (Göring had arranged for preferential treatment for the woman, and protected her from confiscation and arrest as the widow of a wealthy Jew.)

Capture, trial, and death

Göring (first row, far left) at the Nuremberg Trials.

Göring surrendered on 9 May 1945 in Bavaria. He was the third-highest-ranking Nazi official tried at Nuremberg, behind Reich President (former Admiral) Karl Dönitz and former Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess. Göring's last days were spent with Captain Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking American intelligence officer and psychologist, who had access to all the prisoners held in the Nuremberg jail. Gilbert classified Göring as having an I.Q. of 138, the same as Dönitz. Gilbert kept a journal which he later published as Nuremberg Diary. Here he describes Göring on the evening of 18 April 1946, as the trials were halted for a three-day Easter recess:

Sweating in his cell in the evening, Göring was defensive and deflated and not very happy over the turn the trial was taking. He said that he had no control over the actions or the defense of the others, and that he had never been anti-Semitic himself, had not believed these atrocities, and that several Jews had offered to testify on his behalf.[36]

Göring claimed that he was not anti-Semitic; however, Albert Speer reported that in the prison yard at Nuremberg, after someone made a remark about Jewish survivors in Hungary, he had overheard Göring say, "So, there are still some there? I thought we had knocked off all of them. Somebody slipped up again."[37] Despite his claims of non-involvement, he was confronted with orders he had signed for the murder of Jews and prisoners of war.

Though he defended himself vigorously, and actually appeared to be winning the trial early on (partly by building popularity with the audience by making jokes and finding holes in the prosecution's case), he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The judgment stated that:[38]

There is nothing to be said in mitigation. For Goering was often, indeed almost always, the moving force, second only to his leader. He was the leading war aggressor, both as political and as military leader; he was the director of the slave labor program and the creator of the oppressive program against the Jews and other races, at home and abroad. All of these crimes he has frankly admitted. On some specific cases there may be conflict of testimony, but in terms of the broad outline, his own admissions are more than sufficiently wide to be conclusive of his guilt. His guilt is unique in its enormity. The record discloses no excuses for this man.[38]

Göring made an appeal, offering to accept the court's death sentence if he were shot as a soldier instead of hanged as a common criminal, but the court refused.

Defying the sentence imposed by his captors, he committed suicide with a potassium cyanide capsule the night before he was to be hanged. Göring had hidden two cyanide capsules in jars of opaque skin cream (he had dermatitis). It has been claimed that Göring befriended U.S. Army Lieutenant Jack G. Wheelis, who was stationed at the Nuremberg Trials and helped Göring obtain cyanide which had been hidden among Göring's personal effects when they were confiscated by the Army.[39] In 2005, former U.S. Army Private Herbert Lee Stivers claimed he gave Göring "medicine" hidden inside a gift fountain pen from a German woman the private had met and flirted with. Stivers served in the 1st Infantry Division's 26th Infantry Regiment, who formed the honor guard for the Nuremberg Trials. Stivers claims to have been unaware of what the "medicine" he delivered actually was until after Göring's death. Because he committed suicide, his dead body was displayed by the gallows for the witnesses of the executions.

After their deaths, the bodies of Göring and the other executed Nazi leaders were cremated in the East Cemetery, Munich Ostfriedhof (München). His ashes were disposed of in the Isar river in Munich.


Göring spoke about war and extreme nationalism to Captain Gilbert, as recorded in Gilbert's Nuremberg Diary:

Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ...voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.[40]

The well-known quotation, and its variations,

Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning.

is frequently attributed to Göring during the inter-war period. Whether or not he actually used this phrase, it did not originate with him. The line comes from Nazi playwright Hanns Johst's play Schlageter, "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning" ("Whenever I hear of culture... I release the safety-catch of my Browning").[41] Nor was Göring the only Nazi official to use this phrase: Rudolf Hess used it as well, and it was a popular cliché in Germany, often in the form: "Wenn ich 'Kultur' höre, nehme ich meine Pistole." ("Whenever I hear 'culture', I take my pistol." or "When I hear of culture I pick up my gun.")

In film and fiction

He has been portrayed by:

Footage of Göring has been included in many films, notably in the 1935 Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl.

He was a recurring character in the Riverworld series by fantasy author Philip Jose Farmer.


  1. ^ a b c d "United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia, ''Hermann_Göring Timeline''". Ushmm.org. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007772. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  2. ^ Göring is the German spelling, but the name is commonly transliterated Goering in English and other languages, using "oe" as the standard representation of "ö".
  3. ^ Block, Maxine; E. Mary Trow (1971). Current Biography: Who's News and Why 1941. New York: H. W. Wilson. pp. 327–330. 
  4. ^ Paul, Wolfgang (1983). Wer War Hermann Göring: Biographie. City: Bechtle. p. 33. ISBN 3762804273. 
  5. ^ Brandenburg, Erich (1995). Die Nachkommen Karls Des Grossen. Neustadt/Aisch: Degener. ISBN 3768651029. 
  6. ^ William Hastings Burke (2009) 'Thirty Four', (London: Wolfgeist Ltd),ISBN 978-0-9563712-0-1, pp. 66-67.
  7. ^ Weal 1999, p. 44-45.
  8. ^ a b Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 24. ISBN 1853676128. 
  9. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 23. ISBN 1853676128. 
  10. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 29. ISBN 1853676128. 
  11. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. pp. 32, 403. ISBN 1853676128. 
  12. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 37. ISBN 1853676128. 
  13. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 403. ISBN 1853676128. 
  14. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 36. ISBN 1853676128. 
  15. ^ Gritzbach, Erich (1939). Hermann Goering: The Man and His Work. London: Hurst & Blackett. OCLC 58964284.  Hermann Goering: The Man and His Work was the official biography edited by Göring himself. He later claimed the lion's share of the royalties for his efforts, according to Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 402. ISBN 1853676128. 
  16. ^ The swastika was a badge which the count and some friends had adopted at school and it became a family emblem, see Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. pp. 40–41. ISBN 1853676128. 
  17. ^ a b Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 41. ISBN 1853676128. 
  18. ^ Hitler, Adolf (1988). Hitler's Table Talk, 1941–1944. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 168. ISBN 0192851802. 
  19. ^ Quoted in Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 58. ISBN 1853676128. 
  20. ^ "Hermann Goering (1 of 4)". Gooring.tripod.com. http://gooring.tripod.com/goo47.html. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  21. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 60. ISBN 1853676128. 
  22. ^ Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 404. ISBN 1853676128. 
  23. ^ Butler, Ewan (1951). Marshall Without Glory. London: Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 84–87. OCLC 1246848.  See also Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. p. 62. ISBN 1853676128. 
  24. ^ Time reported: "Herr and Frau Göring became her fast friends (they later named their daughter after her)." Time magazine: "Lady of the Axis" published 24 July 1939.
  25. ^ Paul Fussell (2002). Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear. p. 25. ISBN 0618381880. 
  26. ^ Blue_Goose-Maley.doc
  27. ^ Block, Maxine; E. Mary Trow (1971). Current Biography: Who's News and Why 1941. New York: H. W. Wilson. p. 330. 
  28. ^ Hildebrand, Klaus The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich, London: Batsford, 1973 pages 14–21
  29. ^ Hildebrand, Klaus The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich, London: Batsford, 1973 pages 14–15
  30. ^ Hildebrand, Klaus (1973). The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich. London: Batsford. pp. 14–21. 
  31. ^ Watt, D. C. (1989). How War Came. London: Heinemann. p. 619. 
  32. ^ Kershaw, Ian (2000). Hitler: Nemesis. New York: W. W. Norton. pp. 95, 123. 
  33. ^ Watt, D.C. How War Came, London: Heinemann, 1989 pages 394-407
  34. ^ "U.S. ''Parachutists'', WWII intelligence bulletin". Lonesentry.com. http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/parachutists/index.html. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  35. ^ Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (1986). Die Trager Des Ritterkreuzes Des Eisernen Kreuzes, 1939–1945. Friedberg: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3790902845. 
  36. ^ Gilbert, G. (1995). Nuremberg Diary. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 278. ISBN 0306806614. 
  37. ^ Speer, Albert (1997). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 605. ISBN 0684829495. 
  38. ^ a b "Judgment of International Military Tribunal on Hermann Goering". Ess.uwe.ac.uk. http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/Goering_judgment.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  39. ^ Taylor, Telford (1992). The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0394583558. 
  40. ^ Gilbert, G. (1995). Nuremberg Diary. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 278–279. ISBN 0306806614. 
  41. ^ Room, Adrian (2000). Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable. London: Cassell. p. 384. ISBN 0304358711. 
  42. ^ [www.imdb.com/title/tt0036921 The Hitler Gang, Paramount 1944] IMDB


  • Block, Maxine; E. Mary Trow (1971). Current Biography: Who's News and Why 1941. New York: H.W. Wilson. 
  • Brandenburg, Erich (1995). Die Nachkommen Karls Des Grossen. Neustadt/Aisch: Degener. ISBN 3768651029. 
  • Burke, William Hastings (2009). Thirty Four. London: Wolfgeist Ltd.. ISBN 9780956371201. http://www.34thebook.com. 
  • Butler, Ewan (1951). Marshall Without Glory. London: Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 84–87. OCLC 1246848. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (1986). Die Trager Des Ritterkreuzes Des Eisernen Kreuzes, 1939–1945. Friedberg: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3790902845. 
  • Fest, Joachim (2004). Inside Hitler's Bunker. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. ISBN 0374135770. 
  • Franks, Norman (1993). Above the Lines. City: Grub Street. ISBN 0948817739. 
  • Frischauer, Willi (1951). The Rise and Fall of Hermann Goering. Ballantine Books. 
  • Gilbert, G. (1995). Nuremberg Diary. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306806614. 
  • Göring, Hermann (1934). Germany Reborn. London: E. Mathews & Marrot. OCLC 570220.  Excerpt from Germany Reborn
  • Gritzbach, Erich (1939). Hermann Goering: The Man and His Work. London: Hurst & Blackett. OCLC 58964284. 
  • Hildebrand, Klaus (1973). The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich. London: Batsford Press. ISBN 0520025288. 
  • Hitler, Adolf (1988). Hitler's Table Talk, 1941–1944. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192851802. 
  • Irving, David (1989). Göring: A Biography. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0688066062. 
  • Leffland, Ella (1990). The Knight, Death and the Devil. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0688058361. 
  • Manvell, Roger (2006). Goering. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1853676128. 
  • Maser, Werner (2000). Hitlers janusköpfiger Paladin: die politische Biographie. Berlin. ISBN 38-6124-509-4. 
  • Mosley, Leonard (1974). The Reich Marshal: A Biography of Hermann Goering. Garden City: Doubleday. ISBN 0385049617. 
  • Overy, Richard (2000). Goering. London: Phoenix Press. ISBN 1842120484. 
  • Paul, Wolfgang (1983). Wer War Hermann Goring: Biographie. City: Bechtle. p. 33. ISBN 3762804273. 
  • Speer, Albert (1997). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684829495. 
  • Taylor, Telford (1992). The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0394583558. 
  • Weal, John. Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer Aces World War Two. Osprey, 1999. ISBN 1855327538

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Wilhelm Reinhard
Commanding Officer of Jagdgeschwader 1
Succeeded by
Erich von Wedel
Preceded by
Erich von Wedel
Commanding Officer of Jagdgeschwader 1
Unit disbanded
New title
Luftwaffe re-established
Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe
Succeeded by
Robert Ritter von Greim
Political offices
Preceded by
Hans Ulrich Klintzsche
Leader of the SA
Title next held by
Franz Pfeffer von Salomon
Preceded by
Franz von Papen
Prime Minister of Prussia
Position abolished


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Reichsmarschall Hermann Wilhelm Göring (12 January 189315 October 1946) Nazi founder of the Gestapo, Head of the Luftwaffe; in English his name is also spelled as Hermann Goering.



  • My measures will not be crippled by any bureaucracy. Here I don't have to worry about Justice; my mission is only to destroy and to exterminate; nothing more.
    • Speech in Frankfurt (3 March 1933), as quoted in Gestapo : Instrument of Tyranny (1956) by Edward Crankshaw, p. 48
  • Certainly I shall use the police — and most ruthlessly — whenever the German people are hurt; but I refuse the notion that the police are protective troops for Jewish stores. No, the police protect whoever comes into Germany legitimately, but it does not exist for the purpose of protecting Jewish usurers.
    • Statement (12 March 1933) as quoted in The Nürnberg Case (1947) by Robert Houghwout Jackson, International Military Tribunal, p. 212
  • Shoot first and inquire afterwards, and if you make mistakes, I will protect you.
    • Instruction to the Prussian police (1933); as quoted in The House that Hitler Built (1937) by Stephen Henry Roberts. p. 63
  • I became commissioner of the Interior in Prussia and at the same time Minister of the Reich. I had taken on a heavy responsibility and a vast field of work lay before me. It was clear that I should be able to make a little use of the administrative system as it then was. I should have to make great changes. To begin with, it seemed to me of the first importance to get the weapon of the criminal and political police firmly into my own hands. Here it was that I made the first sweeping changes of personnel. Out of 32 police chiefs I removed 22. New men were brought in, and in every case these men came from the great reservoir of the Storm Troops. I gave strict orders and demanded that the police should devote all their energies to the ruthless extermination of subversive elements. In one of my first big meetings in Dortmund I declared that for the future there would be only one man who would bear the responsibility in Prussia, and that one man was myself. Every bullet fired from the barrel of a police pistol was my bullet. If you call that murder, then I am the murderer. Finally I alone created, on my own initiative, the State Secret Police Department. This is the instrument which is so much feared by the enemies of the State, and which is chiefly responsible for the fact that in Germany and Prussia today there is no question of a Marxist or Communist danger.
    • Germany Reborn (1934)
  • Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.
    • Radio broadcast (1936), as quoted in The New Language of Politics: An Anecdotal Dictionary of Catchwords, Slogans, and Political Usage (1968) by William L. Safire, p. 178
    • Variants: Guns will make us strong, butter will only make us fat.
      We have no butter... but I ask you, would you rather have butter or guns? Preparedness makes us powerful. Butter merely makes us fat.
  • We will go down in history either as the world's greatest statesmen or its worst villains.
    • Statement (1937); quoted in Great Powers and Outlaw States : Unequal Sovereigns in the International Legal Order (2004) by Gerry J. Simpson, p. 291
  • The Jew must clearly understand one thing at once, he must get out!
    • Speech in Vienna after the Austrian Anschluss (1938); when asked at the Nuremberg trails whether he meant what he said in this speech he replied "Yes, approximately." As reported from testimony in the Imperial War Museum, Folio 645, Box 156, , (1945-10-20), pp. 5-6
  • No enemy bomber can reach the Ruhr. If one reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Goering. You may call me Meyer.
    • Addressing the Luftwaffe (September 1939) as quoted in August 1939: The Last Days of Peace (1979) by Nicholas Fleming, p. 171; "Meyer" (or "Meier") is a common name in Germany. This statement would come back to haunt him as Allied bombers devastated Germany; many ordinary Germans, especially in Berlin, took to calling him "Meier". It is said that he once himself introduced himself as "Meier" when taking refuge in an air-raid shelter in Berlin.
I have no conscience, Adolf Hitler is my conscience.
  • The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!
    • Statement at a luncheon on 20 April 1942, as recounted by General Franz Halder, about the Reichstag Fire, which the Nazis had blamed on "Communist instigators" in securing many of their dictatorial powers. In a way that might indicate Goering was simply joking, Halder testified: "At a luncheon on the birthday of Hitler in 1942 the conversation turned to the topic of the Reichstag building and its artistic value. I heard with my own ears when Goering interrupted the conversation and shouted: 'The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!' With that he slapped his thigh with the flat of his hand."
      Göring later testified: "I had nothing to do with it. I deny this absolutely. I can tell you in all honesty, that the Reichstag fire proved very inconvenient to us. After the fire I had to use the Kroll Opera House as the new Reichstag and the opera seemed to me much more important than the Reichstag. I must repeat that no pretext was needed for taking measures against the Communists. I already had a number of perfectly good reasons in the forms of murders, etc."
  • Especially in the Jewish question, we are so involved that there is no escape ... a movement and a people who have burnt their bridges fight with greater determination than those still able to retreat.
  • The people were merely to acknowledge the authority of the Fuehrer, or, let us say, to declare themselves in agreement with the Fuehrer. If they gave the Fuehrer their confidence then it was their concern to exercise the other functions. Thus, not the individual persons were to be selected according to the will of the people, but solely the leadership itself.
  • I especially denounce the terrible mass murders, which I cannot understand ... I never ordered any killing or tortures where I had the power to prevent such actions!
    • Göring's closing statement to the Nuremberg tribunal (31 August 1946); as quoted in Witness to Nuremberg (2006) by Richard Sonnenfeldt, p. 70
  • The German people trusted the Führer. Given his authoritarian direction of the state, they had no influence on events. Ignorant of the crimes of which we know today, the people have fought with loyalty, self-sacrifice, and courage, and they have suffered too in this life-and-death struggle into which they were arbitrarily thrust. The German people are free from blame.
    • Göring's closing statement to the Nuremberg tribunal (31 August 1946)
  • I have no conscience, Adolf Hitler is my conscience.
    • As quoted in The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership (1970) by Joachim C. Fest, p. 75

Nuremberg Diary (1947)

These statements were recorded in Gustave Gilbert's transcriptions of conversations with many of the Nazi leaders during the War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg, and later published in Gilbert's Nuremberg Diary(1947).
After the United States gobbled up California and half of Mexico, and we were stripped down to nothing, territorial expansion suddenly becomes a crime. It's been going on for centuries, and it will still go on.
Do you think I give that much of a damn about my lousy life?
Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood...
  • Der Sieger wird immer der Richter und der Besiegte stets der Angeklagte sein.
  • The victor will always be the judge, and the vanquished the accused.
    • Pg. 4 (1995 edition); also quoted in Nuremberg: A Personal Record of the Trial of the Major Nazi War Criminals in 1945—46(1978) by A. Neave, p.74; original German, as quoted in Der Nürnberger Prozess (1958) by Joe J. Heydecker and Johannes Leeb, p.103
  • After the United States gobbled up California and half of Mexico, and we were stripped down to nothing, territorial expansion suddenly becomes a crime. It's been going on for centuries, and it will still go on.
    • At lunch during the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal (11 December 1945); Nuremberg Diary p.66, 1947 edition.
  • Do you think I give that much of a damn about my lousy life? — For myself, I don't give a damn if I get executed, or drown, or crash in a plane, or drink myself to death! — But there is still a matter of honor in this life! — Assassination attempt on Hitler! — Ugh! — Gott im Himmel!! I could have sunk through the floor! And do you think I would have handed Himmler over to the enemy, guilty as he was? Dammit, I would have liquidated the bastard myself!
    • Interview in Göring's cell (3 January 1946)
  • Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
    Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
    Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

The Nuremberg Interviews (2004)

  • What do I care about danger? I've sent soldiers and airmen to death against the enemy — why should I be afraid?
    • To Leon Goldensohn (15 March 1946)
  • Hitler decided that. I thought it was stupid because I believed that first we had to defeat England.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, about attacking Russia (15 March 1946)
  • No. It was the last hours and he (Hitler) was under pressure. If I could have seen him personally it would have been different.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, after being asked if he felt any resentment toward Hitler (15 March 1946)
  • I know you want to study me psychologically. That's reasonable and I appreciate it. At least you don't lecture to me and pry into my affairs. You have a good technique as a psychiatrist. Let the other fellow talk and stick his neck into the noose. I don't mean that the way it sounds. But you hardly say anything. Someday I'm going to ask you questions.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (21 May 1946)
  • I have always been interested in family history. Chromosomes are funny things, aren't they? They may skip a generation and you can find children who resemble the grandfather, rather than either parent. Heredity is more important than environment. Blood will tell. For example, a man is either musical by heredity or he is not. You can't make a man musical by the environment. You can find a person who is very musically inclined and be puzzled because neither parents nor grandparents had any ear for music. But if you trace it back, you will find that the great-grandfather was a musician. But the environment plays a great part in the development of a man. It is significant whether a man is brought up in the city or in the country, near a lake or on the shores of the ocean.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (21 May 1946)
  • In Berlin Jews controlled almost one hundred percent of the theaters and cinemas before the rise to power.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (21 May 1946)
  • Hitler had the willpower of a demon and he needed it. If he didn't have such a strong willpower he couldn't have achieved anything. Don't forget, if Hitler had not lost the war, if he did not have to fight against the combination of big powers like England, America, and Russia — each one he could have conquered individually — these defendants and these generals would now be saying, 'Heil Hitler,' and would not be so damn critical.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (24 May 1946)
  • To me there are two Hitlers: one who existed until the end of the French war; the other begins with the Russian campaign. In the beginning he was genial and pleasant. He would have extraordinary willpower and unheard-of influence on people. The important thing to remember is that the first Hitler, the man who I knew until the end of the French war, had much charm and goodwill. He was always frank. The second Hitler, who existed from the beginning of the Russian campaign until his suicide, was always suspicious, easily upset, and tense. He was distrustful to an extreme degree.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (24 May 1946)
  • I am a man who is basically opposed to atrocities or ungentlemanly actions. In 1934, I promulgated a law against vivisection. You can see, therefore, that if I disapprove of the experimentation on animals, how could I possibly be in favor of torturing humans? The prosecution says that I had something to do with the freezing experiments which were performed in the concentration camps under the auspices of the air force. That is pure Quatsch! I was much too busy to know about these medical experiments, and if anybody had asked me, I would have disapproved violently. It must have been Himmler who thought up these stupid experiments, although I think he shirked his responsibility by committing suicide. I am not too unhappy about it because I would not particularly enjoy sitting on the same bench with him. The same is true of that drunken Robert Ley, who did us a favor by hanging himself before the trial started. He was not going to be any advantage for us defendants when he took the stand.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (24 May 1946)
  • The atrocities are, for me, the most horrible part of the accusation in this trial. They thought that I took it lightly or laughed about it or some such nonsense, in court. That is definitely a mistake. I am the type of person who is naturally against such things and my own psychological reaction is to laugh or smile in the face of adversity. Perhaps that explains my attitude in court. Besides, I was not to blame for these horrors. It's not just that I am a hard man because of my long experience in the army and in politics. It's true that I saw plenty in the First World War and during the air raids and at the front in this war. But I was always a person who felt the suffering of others. To paint me as an unfeeling ogre who laughs in court at the atrocities is stupid.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (24 May 1946)
  • All Quatsch. Nobody knows the real Göring. I am a man of many parts, but the autobiography, what does that tell you? Nothing. And those books put out by the party press, they are less than useless.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (27 May 1946)
  • I think that women are wonderful but I've never met one yet who didn't show more feeling than logic.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (27 May 1946)
  • If I didn't have a sense of humor, how could I stand this trial now?
    • To Leon Goldensohn (27 May 1946)
  • In the first place I'm sure Hitler did not write that damned testament himself. Probably some swine like Bormann wrote it for him. But I don't see what is so terrible in the testament when you examine it, anyway. There was Berlin, bombed every minute. The noise of artillery from the lousy Russians, the American and British bombers overhead. Maybe Hitler was a trifle unbalanced by all that. If he wrote the testament at such a time, it was hysteria. But essentially, what difference does it make?
    • To Leon Goldensohn (27 May 1946)
  • I have to laugh when the English claim they are such a wonderful nation. Everyone knows that Englishmen are really Germans, that the English kings were German, and that in Russia the emperors were either of German origin or received their education in Germany.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (28 May 1946)
  • The Russians are primitive folk. Besides, Bolshevism is something that stifles individualism and which is against my inner nature. Bolshevism is worse than National Socialism — in fact, it can't be compared to it. Bolshevism is against private property, and I am all in favor of private property. Bolshevism is barbaric and crude, and I am fully convinced that that atrocities committed by the Nazis, which incidentally I knew nothing about, were not nearly as great or as cruel as those committed by the Communists. I hate the Communists bitterly because I hate the system. The delusion that all men are equal is ridiculous. I feel that I am superior to most Russians, not only because I am a German but because my cultural and family background are superior. How ironic it is that crude Russian peasants who wear the uniforms of generals now sit in judgment on me. No matter how educated a Russian might be, he is still a barbaric Asiatic. Secondly, the Russian generals and the Russian government planned a war against Germany because we represented a threat to them ideologically. In the German state, I was the chief opponent of Communism. I admit freely and proudly that it was I who created the first concentration camps in order to put Communists in them. Did I ever tell you that funny story about how I sent to Spain a ship containing mainly bricks and stones, under which I put a single layer of ammunition which had been ordered by the Red government in Spain? The purpose of that ship was to supply the waning Red government with munitions. That was a good practical joke and I am proud of it because I wanted with all my heart to see Russian Communism in Spain defeated finally.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (28 May 1946)


  • When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning!
    • Variant: "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver." Often attributed to Göring, who might have used such lines, these statements are derived from those in the play Schlageter by Hanns Johst: "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" [Whenever I hear of culture... I release the safety-catch of my Browning!] (Act 1, Scene 1) The play was first performed in April 1933 for Hitler's birthday.
    • "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver" was also is used in the 1981 Cannes Film Festival Award winner Mephisto spoken by a character known as "The General" in the English dubbed version.
  • I will decide who is a Jew!
    • Göring is stated to have said this in Non-Germans Under the Third Reich: The Nazi Judicial and Administrative System in Germany (2003) by Diemut Majer, p. 60, and in other works, but he might have merely been repeating or paraphrasing the statement, Wer a Jud is, bestimm i (Only I will decide who is a Jew) which in Strangers at Home and Abroad: Recollections of Austrian Jews Who Escaped Hitler (2000) by Adi Wimmer, p. 6, is said to have originated with Vienna mayor Karl Lueger in response to the observation that despite his anti-semitic speeches he still dined with Jews.

Quotes about Göring

  • I can't see a thing wrong with Göring's behavior as far as this trial is concerned. They have proven none of the charges. I have mentioned to Göring that the trouble with National Socialism is that it is a house divided, that we Germans tried to live in a community without considering our neighbors, and Göring agreed with me. So even Göring isn't as bad a fellow as the prosecution would have the world believe.
  • And another question was unfortunately not asked of Göring: 'The German people put faith in you even if they doubted Hitler because you were gentlemanly and more likable. What did you, Göring, do to justify this confidence? You have led a luxurious life and collected stolen art.'
  • Now, for example, Göring made an excellent impression. I must say I rather liked him. The fashion was for 'strong men.' Göring had his weaknesses — he was like a child in many respects — but he was a human being.
  • In Goering's tones there is just such a shadow. He is a complex villain if ever there was one. He also kept his bravery to the end and made a showing at Nuremberg which shamed his colleagues. He also kept his stubborn cunning, defeating the hangman.
    • Edward Crankshaw
  • Goering, wreathed in smiles and orders and decorations received us gaily, his wife at his side. There is something un-Christian about Goering, a strong pagan streak, a touch of the arena, though perhaps, like many who are libidinous-minded like myself, he actually does very little. People say that he can be very hard and ruthless, as are all Nazis when occasion demands, but outwardly he seems all vanity and childish love of display.
  • The large and varied role of Göring was half militarist and half gangster. He stuck his pudgy finger in every pie. He used his SA musclemen to help bring the gang into power. In order to entrench that power, he contrived to have the Reichstag burned, established the Gestapo, and created the concentration camps. He was equally adept at massacring opponents and at framing scandals to get rid of stubborn generals. He built up the Luftwaffe [air force] and hurled it at his defenseless neighbors. He was among the foremost in harrying Jews out of the land. By mobilizing the total economic resources of Germany, he made possible the waging of the war which he had taken a large part in planning. He was, next to Hitler, the man who tied the activities of all the defendants together in a common effort.
  • These men saw no evil, spoke none, and none was uttered in their presence. This claim might sound very plausible if made by one defendant. But when we put all their stories together, the impression which emerges of the Third Reich, which was to last a thousand years, is ludicrous. If we combine only the stories of the front bench, this is the ridiculous composite picture of Hitler's Government that emerges. It was composed of:
    A No. 2 man who knew nothing of the excesses of the Gestapo which he created, and never suspected the Jewish extermination programme although he was the signer of over a score of decrees which instituted the persecution of that race;
    A No. 3 man who was merely an innocent middleman transmitting Hitler's orders without even reading them, like a postman or delivery boy;
    A Foreign Minister who knew little of foreign affairs and nothing of foreign policy;
    A Field-Marshal who issued orders to the armed forces but had no idea of the results they would have in practice ...
    ... This may seem like a fantastic exaggeration, but this is what you would actually be obliged to conclude if you were to acquit these defendants.
    They do protest too much. They deny knowing what was common knowledge. They deny knowing plans and programmes that were as public as Mein Kampf and the Party programme. They deny even knowing the contents of documents which they received and acted upon. ... The defendants have been unanimous, when pressed, in shifting the blame on other men, sometimes on one and sometimes on another. But the names they have repeatedly picked are Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Goebbels, and Bormann. All of these are dead or missing. No matter how hard we have pressed the defendants on. the stand, they have never pointed the finger at a living man as guilty. It is a temptation to ponder the wondrous workings of a fate which has left only the guilty dead and only the innocent alive. It is almost too remarkable.
    The chief villain on whom blame is placed — some of the defendants vie with each other in producing appropriate epithets — is Hitler. He is the man at whom nearly every defendant has pointed an accusing finger.
    I shall not dissent from this consensus, nor do I deny that all these dead and missing men shared the guilt. In crimes so reprehensible that degrees of guilt have lost their significance they may have played the most evil parts. But their guilt cannot exculpate the defendants. Hitler did not carry all responsibility to the grave with him. All the guilt is not wrapped in Himmler's shroud. It was these dead men whom these living chose to be their partners in this great conspiratorial brotherhood, and the crimes that they did together they must pay for one by one.
    • Robert H. Jackson in his summation for the prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials (26 July 1946)

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