Hermann Goering

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Hermann Göring in Augsburg after his arrest, May 10, 1945

Hermann Wilhelm Göring (born January 12, 1893 in Rosenheim , † October 15, 1946 in Nuremberg ) was a leading German National Socialist politician . From May 1935 he was Commander in Chief of the Air Force . From 1936/1937 he took over the management of the German economy and the Reich Ministry of Economics .

Göring gained some fame and reputation as a fighter pilot during the First World War and received the order Pour le Mérite . He took part in the Hitler putsch (November 1923 in Munich) and contributed significantly to the rise of the NSDAP . In August 1932 he was elected President of the Reichstag . On the day he came to power , Adolf Hitler appointed him Reich Minister without Portfolio , Reich Commissioner for Air Transport and Reich Commissioner for the Prussian Ministry of the Interior . On April 11, 1933, Goering also became Prime Minister of Prussia .

In the last two positions, Göring played a key role in bringing into line and persecuting the opposition , which he carried out with extreme brutality. He was responsible for founding the Gestapo and setting up the first concentration camps from 1933. From October 1936, as a representative for the four-year plan, he continued arming the Wehrmacht in preparation for a war of aggression . He led measures in connection with the Anschluss of Austria , with which Austrian and German National Socialists initiated the integration of the federal state of Austria into the Nazi state in March 1938 . On the night of March 12, 1938 - after telephonic threats from him, before the German units marched in - Austrian National Socialists replaced the Austro-Fascist corporate state regime .

He systematically organized economic measures against people who were discriminated against as Jews by the National Socialists, and on November 12, 1938, issued the ordinance to expel Jews from German economic life . In July 1940 - after the campaign in the West had ended quickly - Hitler appointed Göring Reichsmarschall .

In public at home and abroad, Göring was considered one of the most influential Nazi politicians until the end of the war . In fact, as historical research later showed, he lost key powers to competing Nazi functionaries such as Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels before and during the war, despite an accumulation of offices and titles . As head of the Luftwaffe, Göring fell into disrepute due to the defeat in the Battle of Britain (mid-1940 to early 1941), the beginning of the devastating bombing of the Reich territory by the Allies and the failure of an airlift at the Battle of Stalingrad (late 1942).

On July 31, 1941, he commissioned Reinhard Heydrich to organize the so-called “ Final Solution to the Jewish Question ”.

From 1942/43 (at the turn of the war), Göring increasingly withdrew into private life - under pressure from within the party and on his own initiative - and cultivated a decadent, luxurious lifestyle. Since then, he has held many offices - if at all - only in a representative manner.

Göring was one of the 24 defendants in the Nuremberg trial of the main war criminals before the International Military Court . On October 1, 1946, he was found guilty of all four counts ( conspiracy against world peace ; planning, unleashing and waging a war of aggression; crimes against martial law ; crimes against humanity ) and sentenced to death by hanging . He evaded the execution of the sentence by suicide on the eve of the execution.


Goering as a cadet, 1907

Family and origin

Hermann Göring was born while his mother Franziska Göring (née Tiefenbrunn) was on a spa stay in Marienbad in Rosenheim. The father Heinrich Ernst Göring had a doctorate in law and served between 1885 and 1890 as the first Reich Commissioner for German South West Africa (today Namibia ) and between 1892 and 1895 as Minister-Resident for Haiti and the Dominican Republic . The pregnant mother had traveled from Port-au-Prince in Haiti to Rosenheim with the intention of not exposing her baby to the tropical climate. On February 8, 1893, Göring was entered in the baptismal register of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Community in Rosenheim .

Goering had four full siblings: an older brother Karl Ernst Goering (* August 3, 1885 - October 4, 1932), two sisters, Olga Therese Sophie and Paula Elisabeth Rosa (who were both married to lawyers in Austria), and a younger brother , Albert Göring , who rejected the National Socialist ideology.

Childhood and youth

His mother gave him to the Graf family in Fürth to look after for the first three years while she was with her husband in Haiti. In 1896 the Görings returned to Germany. In the following years, the family lived in the house at Fregestraße 19 in Berlin-Friedenau , which belonged to Hermann's godfather, Hermann Epenstein (from 1910 with the nobility title “Knight of”). After that, the Goering family lived on the lands of Epenstein, a doctor of Jewish origin with whom Goering's father had befriended in German South West Africa. Epenstein provided the Göring family with Veldenstein Castle (approx. 50 kilometers northeast of Nuremberg ) as their residence. The family spent some summers as Epenstein's guests at Mauterndorf Castle in the province of Salzburg . Hermann's mother had an open relationship with Epenstein. She stayed with him on visits, while his father, who was over 20 years older, stayed outside the castle.

Göring started school in Fürth in 1900 and attended the humanistic grammar school there from 1902 to 1904 with moderate success . From 1904 to 1905 he was a year alumnus at the Carolinum grammar school in Ansbach . In his “children's games it was always about war”.

When he was twelve years old, his father sent him to the cadet house in Karlsruhe . In 1909 he moved to the Hauptkadettenanstalt (upper level) in Lichterfelde near Berlin , where, in addition to military training ( drills and combat exercises ), he received general education (including French and English). In 1911 he passed the ensign examination with distinction and the predicate "excellent". Since March 1912 he was an ensign in the 4th Baden Infantry Regiment "Prince Wilhelm" No. 112 . In January 1913 he passed the Abitur . He then completed an eight-month war school course, which he completed with the officer examination.

First World War

Goering I. in 1918 with the Iron Cross First Class, the military pilot badge , the Purple Heart and the Pour le Mérite
Photography by Nicola Perscheid
Video of Hermann Göring in the cockpit of a Fokker D.VII during the First World War

On January 10, 1914 he was platoon leader in his regiment, which was in Mulhouse , since January 20, 1914 with the rank of lieutenant . During the First World War he took part in some of the first skirmishes in Alsace and was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd class.

Because of his rheumatoid arthritis, he was admitted to a hospital in Metz on September 23, 1914 , then to Freiburg im Breisgau , where he was persuaded by his friend and regimental comrade Bruno Loerzer , a fighter pilot, to join the air force . Göring left the hospital without permission, was posted on October 16 for training as an observer in the Aviation Replacement Department 3 in Darmstadt and on October 28, he was transferred to Field Aviation Department 25.

Shortly afterwards he served as an observer in an air force. On March 25, 1915, he received the Iron Cross 1st Class. From June to September 1915 he was trained as a pilot in Freiburg. a. by Ludwig Weber . He was assigned to the 5th Army in September. On November 16, 1915, he achieved his first aerial victory . At first he escorted bomber units, later he became a fighter pilot.

On March 14, 1916, he shot down the first enemy bomber . After a crash landing , Göring spent the time from November 2, 1916 to February 1917 in various hospitals.

On May 17, 1917, he was given the command of Jagdstaffel 27 . He rose to first lieutenant on August 18, 1917. After his 19th kill, he was awarded the Order Pour le Mérite on June 2, 1918 .

When the commander of Jagdgeschwader No. 1 , Captain Wilhelm Reinhard , had a fatal accident on a test flight in July 1918, Göring became the commander of this squadron known as Richthofen's "Flying Circus" on July 6, 1918 . Among other things, he flew a white Fokker D.VII . In his new position he finally achieved his 22nd and final aerial victory.

Time of the Weimar Republic

Wedding ceremony with his wife Emmy, main entrance of the Berlin Cathedral , 1935

After the armistice in 1918, he moved his squadron back to Germany. At a public meeting in Berlin, he was noticed by violent criticism of the Prussian War Minister Walther Reinhardt for his advocacy of the republic. He went to Denmark as a military adviser and later to Sweden . There he demonstrated Anthony Fokker's machines . On August 2, 1919, he acquired a Swedish flight license and took on orders for Svenska Lufttrafik AB .

On February 13, 1920 he submitted his departure from Stockholm to the Reichswehr , which according to the provisions of the Versailles Treaty was not allowed to have any air forces . He applied for his subsequent promotion to captain and waived any pension claims. In June 1920 his application was granted.

On February 20, 1920, he flew the explorer Eric von Rosen from Stockholm's Lindarängen Airport to his Rockelstad estate , where he met his first wife, the married Swede Carin Freifrau von Kantzow , née. Baroness von Fock. She left her husband Nils von Kantzow and lived with Göring in various places in Sweden and from 1921 in Hochkreuth near Bayrischzell . On December 13, Carin's husband consented to the divorce. On January 25, 1923, Göring married Carin, who was four years older than him, in Stockholm. The wedding was repeated on February 3, 1923 at the Goering's new home in Obermenzing near Munich .

Göring enrolled at the University of Munich in 1921 to study history, economics and political science from the winter of 1922. His professors included the historian Karl Alexander von Müller and the constitutional lawyer Hans Nawiasky . On a Sunday evening in November 1922, Göring went to Munich's Königsplatz to protest against the extradition of German generals demanded by the victorious powers and listened to speakers from various parties and organizations. He was impressed by Hitler's refusal to "shout protests into the world without having the opportunity to lend weight to them". On the following Monday he heard Hitler speak against the Versailles Treaty in the Monday NSDAP meeting in Café Neumayr on Viktualienmarkt . At the beginning of 1923 he appointed him commander of the Sturmabteilung (SA). Goering withdrew the SA from the influence of the Consul organization , reorganized it and created its own high command. In place of the previously organized hundreds, assault companies appeared in the lower structure - these were combined in the higher to form storm battalions and assault regiments. Organizationally, the SA was cut off from the NSDAP and converted into a military association by a party group. Hitler also demanded that the NSDAP should not become a secret society controlled from the background , but a “modern”, openly acting mass party . It was therefore entirely logical to remove the SA from the influence of Hermann Ehrhardt , the leader of the Consul organization.

In his function as SA commander, Göring also took part in the Hitler putsch on November 9, 1923, which was ended by a unit of the Bavarian State Police . Goering was injured by a shot in the thigh - some English-language sources speak of a shot in the hip and one in the groin - and was carried into the courtyard of Residenzstrasse 25 by fellow putschists . The Jewish owner of the property, Robert Ballin , took Goring, who was bleeding badly, in with him. Ballin and his wife were released from Dachau concentration camp at Göring's instigation after the November pogrom in 1938 .

Göring managed to escape to Austria accompanied by Carin. Because of his pain he was in an Innsbruck hospital morphine - injections - the beginning of Goering's morphine addiction . When the Hitler trial took place in Munich , Göring was still in Austria. At the end of April 1924 he was asked to leave Austria. He went to Italy and was Hitler's agent in Venice and Rome .

In the spring of 1925 he moved into an apartment in Stockholm with Carin, and it was here that he became addicted to drugs for the first time . In August 1925 he was admitted to a clinic, and after rehab, he relapsed in October, which is why he was admitted to the Långbro mental hospital in the Stockholm district of Älvsjö . After a few weeks he was able to leave the clinic as cured and received a medical certificate stating that he had never shown signs of mental illness during the treatment .

The general amnesty of the new Reich President Paul von Hindenburg in 1925 (it was the first of four Hindenburg amnesties ; there were more in 1928, 1932 and 1934) allowed him to return to Germany. He took part in the NSDAP party congress in Weimar on July 3 and 4, 1926 , where it turned out that he had been removed from the list of party members. Goering returned to Sweden, where he was again admitted to Långbro clinic for abuse of morphine. After a 19-day stay, he was able to leave the clinic on September 26, 1927. In 1929 he claims to have finally discontinued the drug.

He finally returned to Germany at the end of 1927 and rejoined the NSDAP and SA. Göring made contact with old fellow aviators such as Bruno Loerzer , Ernst Udet and Paul Körner . Loerzer, who had made money, introduced him to Lufthansa Executive Board member Erhard Milch and introduced him to “better circles”. Carin he lived in Berlin-Schöneberg and moved to the Reichstag elections of May 20, 1928 in the Reichstag one. Later he was appointed SA group leader by Hitler . During his visits to Berlin, Hitler was a frequent visitor to the Görings. After the Reichstag election of September 14, 1930 , which brought the NSDAP considerable votes, Hitler, who remained in Munich, formally appointed him his "political representative in the Reich capital". Goering tried to make the National Socialist movement acceptable in better society. In 1931 he organized a meeting between Fritz Thyssen , Hjalmar Schacht and Adolf Hitler in his apartment . After this meeting, Thyssen distributed some donations to National Socialist newspapers. Above all, however, he supported his friend Hermann Göring to enable him to have an adequate lifestyle and living style .

In the summer of 1931 the Görings traveled to Sweden, where Carin's mother died unexpectedly on September 25th. Carin Göring died of tuberculosis a few weeks later on October 17, 1931 .

Göring later called his pompous property in Schorfheide near Groß SchönebeckCarinhall ” in memory of her .

In 1935 he married the actress Emmy Sonnemann . Hitler was the best man at this wedding . With Emmy he had a daughter, Edda Göring (1938-2018).

President of the Reichstag in 1932

Reichstag President Göring (top right) ignores Chancellor Franz von Papen in the session of September 12, 1932

After the general election in July 1932 the NSDAP was the first time become the strongest party, Goering was in the first session of the Diet on August 30, 1932 in the election for President of the Reichstag with the support of the bourgeois parties against the candidate Paul Löbe ( SPD ) and Ernst Torgler ( KPD ) enforce. The NSDAP initially occupied the third highest office in the Weimar Republic .

In the Reichstag session of September 12, 1932 , Göring managed by means of a procedural trick that, despite an order already issued by Reich President Paul von Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag, a vote of no confidence in the Papen cabinet could be voted on. Before the start of the vote, when von Papen wanted to announce Hindenburg's resolution to dissolve a few minutes earlier and countersigned by him, Göring deliberately overlooked the Reich Chancellor, who was standing up to speak (to whom he should have given the floor immediately according to the Rules of Procedure of the Reichstag) and declared the vote open. He then referred to the Rules of Procedure, according to which no further requests to speak were allowed during a vote. With 513 to 42 votes, the Reichstag then expressed mistrust in the Papen cabinet. Only now did Goering take note of the dissolution decree, but dismissed it with the remark that it had been countersigned by men whom the Reichstag had just pronounced mistrust. However, since Papen had placed the folder with the dissolution decree on Goering's desk before the end of the vote, the Reichstag was legally dissolved and the vote of no confidence was formally invalid; The result of the vote, which was embarrassing for Papen, was public.

In the new elections to the Reichstag, which were then announced for November 4, 1932 , the NSDAP suffered a loss of votes, but remained the strongest parliamentary group. Göring was re-elected President of the Reichstag with a bourgeois majority. In the months that followed, he played a decisive role in the destruction of the Weimar Republic .

time of the nationalsocialism

Goering's role in consolidating the Nazi dictatorship

Göring's appearance (standing with his back to the viewer, fists pressed to his waist) at the Reichstag fire trial , 1934; Photography by Robert Sennecke
Goering (right) appoints Himmler as Inspector of the Gestapo, April 20, 1934

On January 30, 1933, President von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Reich Chancellor . He brought Göring and Wilhelm Frick into his cabinet as the only National Socialist ministers . Göring became Reich Minister without Portfolio, Reich Commissioner for the Prussian Ministry of the Interior and Reich Commissioner for Aviation. As acting Minister of the Interior, he was the employer of the entire Prussian police . He thus played a decisive role in the takeover of power and the building up of the Nazi regime , as one could only get rid of political opponents by means of control over the regulatory organs (see also auxiliary police ). He passed over the acting Prussian Prime Minister Franz von Papen , who was in charge of him . After the resignation of Papens in this function, Goering was appointed Prime Minister of Prussia on April 10, 1933 .

As early as February 17, 1933, he had instructed the police officers to establish the best possible understanding with “national associations” ( SA , SS and Stahlhelm ), “in whose circles the most important state-preserving forces are represented”. At the same time he formulated literally: "Police officers who make use of firearms in the exercise of these duties (against anti-state organizations) are covered by me regardless of the consequences of firearms use". This practically meant the issuing of a shooting order ("shooting decree") and included the blatant invitation to political arbitrariness for its benefit. To increase the pressure on the police officers, with a decree of February 22nd, additional SA and SS units as auxiliary police - allegedly to ward off "increasing excesses from the radical left, especially the communist side" - were slipped under the regular police units .

According to a distribution formula, one fifth of the fifty thousand auxiliary workers employed had to come from the ranks of the armed arm of the German National People's Party (DNVP), the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten , which is also anti-democratic . Although this was not an NSDAP organization, Göring also recruited several “commissioners at special disposal” to closely monitor its decrees, most of whom were SS leaders but had not previously held any state function. NSDAP party functionaries and thus also private individuals had now in fact gained direct access to large areas of state administration and the police.

On his initiative, the first, initially still very unstructured, concentration camps were built in February 1933 (sometimes referred to as “wild concentration camps” ), in which the police and SA imprisoned opposition members. The establishment of the Secret State Police (Gestapo), from which the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) later emerged, was initiated by Göring. The first inspector of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels , had family ties to Göring. On April 20, 1934, Goering transferred the office to Heinrich Himmler . In June 1934, the Gestapo took on a key role in the murder of Ernst Röhm and about 200 other people, which Göring also initiated . Hitler, Göring and other heads of the regime agreed beforehand on a “Reich list” of those to be murdered and arrested.

In 1933, Göring was one of the founding members of the National Socialist Academy for German Law by Hans Frank . As President of the Reichstag, Göring read the Nuremberg Laws on September 15, 1935 in front of the Reichstag convened in Nuremberg , which were unanimously adopted.

On August 16, 1933, over three months before the Reich Animal Welfare Act was passed on November 24, 1933, with which Germany's first special animal welfare law came into force, he took advantage of the unclear situation that had arisen after the activities of animal rights activists and several draft laws Detailed questions about a media-effective quick shot. By decree, Göring, as Prussian Prime Minister, banned the “ vivisection of animals of all kinds for the entire Prussian state territory” with the background that this controversial testing of surgical methods was the main point of contention with animal rights activists. The National Socialist party correspondence hastily commented on the next day for the press: “The Prime Minister has instructed the responsible ministries to submit a law to him without delay, according to which vivisection is subject to heavy penalties. Until this law is passed, persons who initiate, carry out or participate in vivisection despite the prohibition will be taken to the concentration camp. "

The early use of the word concentration camp in the synchronized media shows how seriously the Nazi state took its efforts to protect animals: vivisectors were criminally placed on the same level as declared enemies of the Nazi regime and those threatened by its racism and anti-Semitism. Göring's threat silenced the scientists working in Prussia and the expected protests of the medical profession. It only worked because - without detailed knowledge - the concentration camp threat already had a terrorist effect and the concentration camps could be used for propaganda purposes. A caricature by Arthur Johnson from the Kladderadatsch of September 3, 1933 proves the echo: A uniformed Göring figure walks off a parade of potential laboratory animals , which, as it were, salute the Hitler salute and "Heil Göring". This irony of Göring's media coup proves that, at least in the early days of his NS state offices, mocking remarks circulated in the media. The decree was aptly linked here with attempted political appropriation and a dubious love of animals. Already two weeks after the decree, Göring had to row back in his decree that overshoots the most radical demands of the vivisection opponents. A new circular for Prussia defined criminal vivisection differently; there was almost no such thing.

Theses that the "Nordic-Germanic people" of the Völkisch movement were connected to nature and anti-Semitism were common points in the arguments of radical animal rights activists and the Nazi ideology from an early stage: animal experimentation was generally regarded as the work of Jewish scientists and allegedly embodied efforts to remove these people from them to detach one's closeness to nature and to displace it through a mechanistic science that exploits nature. In addition, the new rulers wanted to eliminate any agitation of a potential protest movement, which they succeeded.

During the National Socialist era, Göring was - at least in the eyes of the public - after Hitler in the Nazi state. In 1934 he was appointed Hitler's successor in the event of his death by a Führer decree . An indication of Göring's popularity (before the bombing war ) may be that - unlike Hitler - he became the main character of numerous and not only regime-critical jokes . From 1937 he used his yacht Carin II intensively as a propaganda instrument in order to present himself close to the people. His penchant for pompous and ostentatious uniforms earned him the nickname " Tinsel one -Heini". The left-wing socialist Red Shock Troop reported several times in 1933 on Göring's corruption, lies and pompous behavior. This then had unsuccessful searches in his own ranks for traitors. He did not realize that the caretaker of his service villa was a social democrat and confidante of Rudolf Küstermeier . In 1934, Göring campaigned for the trial against the leadership of the resistance group to be transferred from the Leipzig Reich Court to the People's Court.

Establishment of the Air Force and head of the four-year plan

Topping-out ceremony of the Reich Aviation Ministry on October 12, 1935 with Ernst Sagebiel (1st from left), Göring (2nd from left) and Erhard Milch (4th from left)
Hall in the Reichsjägerhof Rominten, 1936

On January 30, 1933, Göring was appointed Reich Commissioner for Air Transport by Hitler . On February 2, the office was renamed Reich Commissioner for Aviation . In this function, Göring ordered the merger of all air sports organizations to form the German Air Sports Association at the end of March . In the course of the transformation of the Reich Aviation Commissioner into the Reich Aviation Ministry , Göring became Reich Minister of Aviation on May 5th . On August 30th, Göring was given the character of General of the Infantry by Reich President Hindenburg , which meant that he had skipped five ranks since he had resigned from the Reichswehr as a captain. This should give him some authority in building the air force in military circles. In May 1935, he was given the command of the newly established Air Force while being renamed General der Flieger . To Hitler's birthday on April 20, 1936, he was appointed Colonel-General conveyed.

Göring subjected the re-armed air force to an initial test and used the Condor Legion in a covert operation in favor of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War . In a typical theatrical gesture, he gave the company the code name Operation Feuerzauber , after the last act of " Siegfried ". As the former Commander in Chief of the Air Force, he later said before the International Military Tribunal :

“[…] The Führer thought about it, I urged vigorously to give support under all circumstances. On the one hand to oppose the expansion of communism [...], on the other hand, to test my young air force on this occasion [...]. With the Fuhrer's permission, I sent a large part of my transport fleet and sent down a number of test squads of my fighters, bombers and anti-aircraft guns, and in this way had the opportunity to test with a sharp shot whether the material was being developed appropriately. [...] "

- Hermann Göring : Quoted from Pierre Broué , Emile Témime

In 1934 Göring became Reichsjägermeister, Reichsforstmeister and supreme representative for nature conservation. In the first function he enforced the Reichsjagdgesetz of July 3, 1934 (it is essentially still in force today). In many photos he can be seen with a pin on his outer clothing (e.g. on a lapel or tie knot), the "Reichsjägermeisteradel" (a golden needle with precious stones). In order to be able to pursue his passion for hunting, he had his two country estates built in the middle of the forest - from 1933 Carinhall in the Schorfheide and 1935/36 the Reichsjägerhof Rominten in the Rominter Heide . Göring promoted the breeding of images of the aurochs and tarpans .

On October 18, 1936, Goering was appointed representative for the four-year plan . This made him a de facto economic dictator in Germany. One aim of the war preparation policy was to reduce the foreign dependency for iron and steel to a minimum. The Reichswerke Hermann Göring was founded on July 15, 1937 to exploit low-quality iron ores . This was intended to secure the requirements of the war economy, which only offered insufficient profit opportunities for private capital . He quickly ousted the economics minister Hjalmar Schacht . His mission was to prepare the German economy for war (see also arming the Wehrmacht ). Ultimately, he failed in this task. Fritz Todt took over this function from March 17, 1940 , as Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition, and finally in 1942 Albert Speer .

The Reichswerke Hermann Göring ( HGW ) were, along with IG Farben and Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG, the largest German group in the National Socialist German Reich. For the historical consideration of forced labor in the “Third Reich” , the HGW are of central importance. In the HGW , all forms of forced labor were used in maximum numbers on the basis of an overflowing camp and administrative system, including the large-scale exploitation of concentration camp prisoners . The company was the largest European steel company in 1944.

During the Blomberg-Fritsch crisis in January 1938, Göring intrigued against Werner von Blomberg and forced him to resign, apparently in the hope of being able to take over command of the Wehrmacht from him. Eventually Hitler took it over himself, and Göring was promoted to Field Marshal General on February 4, 1938 . After Blomberg's resignation, Göring was the only holder of this rank until 1939 and thus became the highest-ranking officer in the Wehrmacht.

November pogroms 1938

After the November pogroms , Göring called a meeting in the Reich Aviation Ministry on November 12th to decide on measures to expropriate the Reich German Jews and to force them to emigrate. So he proposed, as revenge for Herschel Grynszpan's assassination attempt on the German legation secretary Ernst Eduard vom Rath, to impose a Jewish property tax of one billion Reichsmarks on the German Jews . With the ordinance to exclude Jews from German economic life and the ordinance on the use of Jewish assets , he ensured that the wild Aryanization was regulated and enforced by the state. He commented on the riots in which over 1,400 synagogues were destroyed, countless business and residential facilities of Jewish citizens were destroyed and 400 dead were to be mourned, he would have preferred if "200 Jews had been slain" instead of "such values" to destroy.

Sudeten crisis and Munich conference

Munich Conference, v. l. to the right, Göring, Hitler (from behind), Mussolini, September 29, 1938

Goering was internally skeptical of Hitler's war plans, as he doubted their chances of success. On the other hand, at a meeting with aviation industrialists at his prestigious Carinhall estate on July 8, 1938, he said:

“We have to be very clear about it. I think the situation is 10, 15% so that the matter can somehow be resolved in relatively small actions. But 80, 85, 90% of the time I am convinced that there will be a bigger Kladderadatsch one day and that we will then have to fight the great fight, which I am not afraid of. The only thing that matters is that it is not made limp again. [...] Then Germany will be the first power in the world, then Germany will own the world's market, then the hour will come when Germany is rich. But you have to risk something, you have to use something. "

In 1938, during the Sudeten crisis , he arranged behind the back of Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, together with the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the Munich conference , in which the representatives of the Entente and its allies in World War I (Italy, Great Britain and France) - in absence of unloaded Czechoslovakia  - to Hitler's disappointment, gave in to prevent a possible war. In the run-up to the Second World War , Goering was therefore sidelined in foreign policy so as not to disrupt Hitler's plans again.

Campaign in France, failed air battle for England and airlift to Stalingrad

On July 19, 1940, shortly after the end of the campaign in the west, Hitler appointed twelve generals (nine army, three air force) to be field marshal. In the same month Göring was promoted from this rank to Reichsmarschall des Großdeutschen Reich , a highest rank created especially for him . A year later, by decree of June 29, 1941, Hitler gave him the successor to the Führer with full powers in the event that he himself was “deprived of his capacity to act”. During this time he became friends with his Italian counterpart Italo Balbo .

Up until the French campaign in May and June 1940, Göring was celebrated as a hero of the Luftwaffe. Because of his catastrophic aerial warfare strategy against England (see Battle of Britain ), he fell more and more out of favor. He was also jointly responsible for the Stalingrad debacle because, against his better judgment, he promised Hitler that the Air Force could supply the enclosed 6th Army from the air.

Exploitation of occupied territories and participation in the Holocaust

Göring commissioned Reinhard Heydrich with an overall draft for the “final solution to the Jewish question”, July 31, 1941

In his function as the representative for the four-year plan, he organized the economic exploitation of the occupied territories. He called the fact that millions of people would fall victim to the hunger plan for which he was jointly responsible , as necessary and desirable. On November 25, he said to Count Ciano, Italian Foreign Minister :

“This year 20 to 30 million people in Russia will starve to death. Perhaps it is a good thing that certain peoples need to be decimated. "

In the Nuremberg trial of the main war criminals, he confirmed that in a meeting with the Reich Commissioners for the Occupied Territories on August 6, 1942, he made the following statements with regard to occupied France:

“It used to seem relatively easier to me. That was called looting. It was up to the person concerned to take away what was conquered. Well, the forms have become more humane. I still intend to plunder, and extensively [...]. "

His involvement in the preparation and implementation of the Holocaust is documented by an order dated July 31, 1941, the authenticity of which he also confirmed at the Nuremberg Trial. In this he commissioned Reinhard Heydrich to make all the necessary preparations for the “final solution to the Jewish question” and to work out an “overall draft” for it. In December 1941 he called the Wannsee Conference for January 20, 1942 , in which 15 high-ranking representatives of the Nazi regime took part. In the Nuremberg Trial, Göring denied any responsibility or knowledge of the Holocaust. After being shown a film about a concentration camp, he said he did not know the exact conditions in the camps; He thinks the portrayals in the film are exaggerated.

Hermann Göring and art

Goering was known and notorious as a collector of works of art. There was an “art fund”, largely fed by donations from large German industrialists. Through robbery and extortion, but also through purchase, he amassed over 4,000 art objects. In Italy alone, Göring and Hitler's purchases reached such proportions that the government banned the sale of art treasures to non-Italians by decree in September 1941. For the collection, Göring wanted to convert his country estate Carinhall in the Schorfheide near Berlin into a museum, the Norddeutsche Galerie . The focus of the collection was the art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance . He worked with the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), known for art theft, who also carried out barter deals for him. Rosenberg's people exchanged confiscated modern works for paintings by old masters. He also set up his own organization, the “ Foreign Exchange Protection Command ”, which confiscated art in occupied territories on his behalf. The art dealer Walter Andreas Hofer and ERR employee Bruno Lohse also procured pictures from confiscated Jewish property for him. His passion for building and collecting was greatly helped by a grant of 6 million Reichsmarks granted by Hitler in 1943 . Göring borrowed a painting by August Weber from the Prussian Palace Administration - it never appeared again.

In June 1942 he inaugurated the Hermann Göring Master School for Painting, named after him, in Kronenburg ( Eifel ). Also in 1942 the Netherlands was one during the German occupation Jan Vermeer - forgery Christ and the adulteress sold to Goering, although this easily as a forgery could have been recognized, as there is with cobalt blue contained a color that did not exist to Vermeer's time.

In the spring of 1945 many works of art in the collection were transported to Bavaria; there advancing troops of the US Army ( 101st Airborne Division ) found them.

Gradual loss of meaning

From 1942 Göring's influence declined. While he often had himself represented at briefings, he traveled a lot and devoted himself to his passion for collecting and hunting; he took little interest in the development of the war. One of the reasons was the devastating air raids on Lübeck , Rostock and Cologne , for example , which Göring's air force had little to counter. Before the war, Göring is said to have stated that his name would be "Meier, if only one enemy aircraft would fly over the German border". There is no evidence of this quote anywhere, but it was now held up against him with sneer and he was nicknamed "Hermann Meier".

On July 23, 1944, three days after the Stauffenberg assassination attempt , Göring ordered after consultation with Hitler that in future only the German salute would be permitted as a show of honor for all parts of the armed forces .


Goering's telegram of April 23, 1945

On April 20, 1945, after the official birthday reception for Adolf Hitler, Göring left Berlin for Berchtesgaden . He said goodbye to Hitler on the grounds that important tasks were waiting for him in southern Germany.

On April 23, 1945, Göring informed Hitler in a telegram from Berchtesgaden that, in the event that Hitler persists in Berlin and did not receive any other notification by 10 p.m., he would immediately consider himself to be in accordance with the regulation made in June 1941 by decree Successor of the Führer with full powers. Hitler interpreted this as an attempted coup and signed a radio message put up by Martin Bormann , according to which the Reichsmarschall was to be removed from his offices and immediately arrested for high treason . Göring was then arrested on the Obersalzberg by the SS command office there. On April 25, the Großdeutsche Rundfunk reported that Göring had resigned from all his offices due to heart problems. In his political will of April 29, 1945, Hitler expelled him from the NSDAP and deprived him of all rights resulting from the 1941 decree.

Capture, Trial, and Death

Göring in front of a Texan flag two days after his arrest on May 7, 1945. Medal (Pour le Mérite, Grand Cross of the Iron Cross ) and decorations ( Iron Cross 1st class, joint pilot and observer badge
in gold with diamonds ) were awarded to him this recording returned.
Film recording of Goering in the Bärenkeller district of Augsburg, May 15, 1945
Goering without a badge in the Nuremberg Trial, March 8, 1946

After Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide on April 30, 1945, Göring was released from SS custody. When asked where he was going now, he replied: “To the castle of my youth.” On May 7, 1945, he drove towards Mauterndorf Castle (Austria), and as it was uncertain whether the Soviet armed forces would still succeed would advance into the Murtal , i.e. into the Salzburg Lungau, he fled to Schloss Fischhorn in Salzburg's Pinzgau and fell into the hands of the 36th US Infantry Division ( 7th US Army ) under the command of Brigadier General Robert Stack . His adjutant, Colonel Bernd von Brauchitsch , had previously negotiated the capture. When he was arrested by the Allies, he was carrying two suitcases with Paracodintabletten to himself that he consumed moderately investigated after he had taken in 1937 against toothache. In American custody, Goering was questioned directly by Generals John Dahlquist and William W. Quinn. The press photos taken during this later caused displeasure among the American population, as they suggested an atmosphere that was too informal to talk to Göring.

On May 9th, Göring gave a press conference for the international press at the headquarters of the 7th US Army in Kitzbühel . He spoke u. a. about Hitler, the air raids on England, and expressed the view that he viewed the war as a football game at the end of which opponents would shake hands. He was then flown to Augsburg on May 10th, where he spent ten days in an American internment camp in the Bärenkeller district . a. was interrogated by Eric M. Warburg . Klaus Mann , then a reporter for the army newspaper Stars and Stripes , was present at another press conference .

On May 21, 1945, Göring, accompanied by his wife Emmy and his daughter Edda, was brought to the secret US camp Camp Ashcan in Bad Mondorf , Luxembourg , where a large part of the Nazi functionaries and high-ranking military prisoners were held between May and September 1945 and was interrogated. From November 1945 he was indicted as the highest-ranking National Socialist in Nuremberg. After his drug withdrawal, he appeared to many protagonists of the Nuremberg Trials more lively and quick-witted than in all the years of the Third Reich before.

He was found guilty on all four counts (conspiracy against world peace; planning, unleashing and waging a war of aggression ; crimes against martial law; crimes against humanity ) and sentenced to death by hanging . Goering applied to the court to be shot, but this was rejected. He finally evaded the execution of the sentence on October 15, 1946, the night before the execution date , by suicide with a potassium cyanide capsule.

Where Göring got the poison from soon became the subject of much speculation. Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski , a former Obergruppenführer of the Waffen SS , claimed in custody that it was his. Even before the trial began, he sought contact with the former Reichsmarschall and sent him the poison in a bar of soap in the corridor. Bach-Zelewski substantiated this claim by supplying the Americans with another ampoule in 1951, the glass of which came from the same production series as the splinters found in Goering's oral cavity. According to another version, Jack G. Wheelis, a lieutenant in the US Army with whom Goering had befriended, is said to have slipped him the poison. At the beginning of 2005, the former guard Herbert Lee Stivers, who had served in the Nuremberg Trials, reported that he had been asked by a woman ("Mona") and a man to take Göring's notes and one in a fountain pen to plug the hidden capsule. They told him that Goering was a very sick man and needed medicine. Herbert Lee Stivers has been convinced since Goering's suicide became known that the "medicine" was potassium cyanide for suicide; but for fear of prosecution he had remained silent until then.

Goering himself described the plan of his suicide in a suicide note to the prison commandant. Accordingly, he had three cyanide capsules with him from the start. He hid one so that it could be found, another so thoroughly that it was not found; during the Nuremberg Trial he had this capsule in his boot. The third capsule was in a can of skin cream in Goering's luggage, which he had access to through the American officer Jack G. Wheelis.

His body was cremated in the municipal crematorium at Munich's Ostfriedhof and the ashes were scattered in the Wenzbach , a tributary of the Isar .

Variety of offices

Goering held numerous posts, all of which he had paid. His most important offices were:

  • political representative of the Führer in the Reich capital (1932–1933)
  • Prussian Minister of the Interior (1933–1934)
  • Prussian Prime Minister (1933-1945)
  • Deputy Reich Governor of Prussia (1933–1945)
  • President of the Prussian State Council (1933–1945)
  • President of the Reichstag (1932–1945)
  • Reich Minister without Portfolio (1933)
  • Reichsforstmeister (1934–1945)
  • Reichsjägermeister (1934–1945)
  • Reich Commissioner for Raw Materials and Foreign Exchange Issues (July 6, 1936)
  • Member of the Secret Cabinet Council (1938–1945)
  • Chairman of the Council of Ministers for Reich Defense (1939–1945)
  • designated successor to the Führer (1934–1945)
  • President of the Reich Research Council (1943–1945)
  • Reich Commissioner for Aviation (1933)
  • Reich Minister of Aviation (1933–1945)
  • President of the Reich Air Protection Association (1933)
  • Commander in Chief of the Air Force (1935–1945)
  • Reich Commissioner for Raw Materials and Foreign Exchange (1936)
  • Commissioner for the four-year plan (1936–1945)
  • Chairman of the Central Planning Office (1943–1945)
  • Head of the Reichswerke Hermann Göring (1937–1945)


Göring examining deer antlers, 1939

Known for his pursuit of awards, his passion for collecting and his penchant for ostentation, he had paintings that he liked confiscated. Despite the tense situation of the German armed forces in the Soviet Union , Göring celebrated his 50th birthday in 1943 at an enormous expense and demanded two million Reichsmarks from the finance minister to enlarge Carinhall. Hitler knew and tolerated these demands. In the East Prussian Rominter Heide he held large hunts, also with foreign guests. Forester Walter Frevert reported in his books about Göring's jealousy when one of his guests had shot a stag that was too strong .

In the vernacular, Göring was called " Goldfasan " or "Lametta-Heini" because of his eye-catching wardrobe, which often consisted of a uniform and many medals . A popular parody of a couplet originally sung by Claire Waldoff read :

"Right tinsel, left tinsel,
And the belly is imma fetta,
In the air it is Meesta -
Hermann is called he!"

Like Hitler and Himmler, Göring was also subordinate to armed "elite units": the SA standard "Feldherrnhalle", of which he became the "Ehren-Standartenführer", and the police regiment "General Göring", which was later transferred to the air force and during the war Parachute Panzer Corps "Hermann Göring" was expanded (see Parachute Panzer Division 1 Hermann Göring ).

Göring was an honorary citizen of numerous German cities. In the course of his conviction as one of the main culprits in the Nuremberg trial , Göring lost all honorary citizenship (privileges) according to Article VIII, Section II, Letter i of Directive 38 of the Allied Control Council of October 12, 1946.

1974 was Bavaria the estate auction of Goering what the East German documentary filmmaker Walter Heynowski and Gerhard Scheu man in her short film "Meier's estate" problematized (1975).


  • Jörg Müllner : Göring - A Career. Three-part documentary, Germany, 2006, 3 × 45 min., Subtitles and first broadcast: “The Accomplice” (14th), “The Second Man” (21st), “Nazi Number One” (March 28, 2006) on ZDF .
  • Michael Kloft : Goering's last battle. The Tribunal of Nuremberg. Two-part TV documentary, Germany, 2006, 2 × 45 min.
  • Eszter Cseke, Andras S. Takacs: Children of Evil: Bettina Göring. Documentation, Germany, Hungary, 2016, 43 min., German first broadcast: December 4, 2017 on ZDFinfo .


  • The tactics of the fighter squadrons. In: Georg Paul Neumann (Ed.): In the air undefeated. Experiences in the world war told of air fighters. Lehmann, Munich 1923, DNB  366320238 , p. 132-134 .
  • From a fighter pilot's diary. In: Georg Paul Neumann (Ed.): In the air undefeated. Experiences in the world war told of air fighters. Lehmann, Munich 1923, DNB  366320238 , p. 209-214 .
  • Building a nation. Mittler, Berlin 1934, DNB  573492247 .


Source editions

  • Wassili Stepanowitsch Christoforow et al. (Ed.): Interrogated. The questioning of German generals and officers by the Soviet secret services 1945–1952 (=  publications of the German Historical Institute Moscow . Volume 6 ). De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-041604-6 , chap. 1.3: Soviet interrogation protocol of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, Kurort Mondorf, Luxemburg, June 17, 1945 , p. 78–95 ( full text in Google Book Search).



Individual aspects

  • Ilse von zur Mühlen: Hermann Göring's art collection. Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-8321-7498-2 .
  • Hanns Christian Löhr: The Iron Collector. The Herrmann Göring collection. Art and Corruption in the »Third Reich«. Gebrüder Mann, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-7861-2601-0 .
  • Nancy H. Yeide: Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection. Laurel Publishing, Dallas 2009, ISBN 0-9774349-1-5 .
  • Andreas Gautschi : The Reichsjägermeister. Facts and legends about Hermann Göring. 5th edition. Neumann-Neudamm, Melsungen 2010, ISBN 978-3-7888-1038-2 .
  • Uwe Neumärker , Volker Knopf: Goering's area. Hunting and politics in the Rominter Heide. 3. Edition. Links, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-705-2 .
  • Andrea Hollmann, Roland March : Hermann Göring and his agent Josef Angerer: annexation and sale of “degenerate art” from German museum holdings in 1938. Fink, Paderborn 2014, ISBN 978-3-7705-5173-6 .
  • Volker Knopf, Stefan Martens: Goering's Reich. Self-presentations in Carinhall. 7th edition. Links, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-86153-392-4 .

Web links

Commons : Hermann Göring  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Marienbad. In: stadtarchiv.de. Rosenheim City Archives, accessed on September 21, 2018.
  2. ^ Edwin Palmer Hoyt: Goering's War. Hale, London 1990, ISBN 0-7090-3928-X , p. 13 (English).
  3. Freedom and Faith. The history of the Evangelicals in the Rosenheimer Land. Exhibition by the Rosenheim dean's office and the city of Rosenheim. In: Michael Grabow (Ed.): Freedom and Belief. The history of the Evangelicals in the Rosenheimer Land. Documentation. Evangelical Lutheran Deanery Rosenheim, Rosenheim 2008, pp. 151–185, here p. 164.
  4. Paula Göring married to the Austrian Heimwehr leader Franz Hueber
  5. Volker button, Stefan Martens: Görings Reich. Berlin 1999, p. 167.
  6. Guido Knopp: Göring - a career. Gütersloh 2006, p. 15 ff.
  7. Gerald Hirtner: Between tradition and progress. The Lungau 1900–1945. In: Christian Blinzer (Hrsg.): Constantly in motion. Margit Countess Szápáry (1871–1943). Pfeifenberger, Tamsweg 2007, ISBN 978-3-901496-12-7 , p. 21.
  8. Arno Gruen : The stranger in us. dtv, Munich 2002, p. 164.
  9. 1945. In: fuerth.de. City of Fürth, accessed on July 2, 2019.
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  11. Arno Gruen: The stranger in us. dtv, Munich 2002, p. 168.
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  40. "A cultural act"
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