Articles/Biographies/Military Leaders/Goering, Hermann
Hermann Goering was born on January 12, 1893 in Rosenheim, Germany. His father was a judge and introduced him into the higher circles of German society.
In 1914, Hermann joined the German Army and quickly attained the rank of lieutenant. Eventually, he was then transferred to the Air Force to serve as a fighter pilot. During World War 1, Hermann shot down twenty-two allied aircraft and was denoted an ace pilot. After the war, he was given the Pour le Merite and Iron Cross for his skill in battle.
After the war, Hermann moved to Denmark, where he worked as a stunt pilot in air shows. It was there that he met a woman named Baroness Karin von Fock-Kantzow and married her in 1922. In December of that same year, he was recruited by Hitler to the Nazi Party and assumed the command of the SA Brownshirts.
In 1923, Goering participated in the Beer Hall putsch in Munich. During the coup attempt, he was seriously injured and fled Germany to avoid arrest. After traveling between Austria, Italy, and Sweden, Hermann admitted himself to an asylum, where he became a morphine addict.
In 1927, he finally returned to his native Germany, where he rejoined his Nazi comrades. Within a year, he was elected a deputy to the Reichstag, under Hitler. Over the next several years, Hermann helped bring Hitler to power by promoting the Nazi party and making friends with powerful figures in business and politics.
When Hitler became German Chancellor on January 30, 1933, Hermann was appointed Prussian Minister of the Interior, Commander of the Prussian Police, Commander of the Gestapo, and Commissioner of Aviation. Using the Gestapo, Hermann orchestrated the structure of the concentration camp system with Himmler and Heydrich, which initially were used for political prisoners that opposed the Nazi Party.
Once the Gestapo was established, Goering began removing the existing police force from power and putting members of the SA and SS in charge of policing the country. When the Reichstag fire occurred, he immediately seized on the chance to establish some "emergency laws" that removed most of the country's civil rights for its citizens. Using these laws, the Nazi Government began imprisoning all communists, socialists, and liberal members of the press, along with other "political criminals".
On March 1, 1935, Hermann was appointed Commander of the German Air Force and began fueling up the German aviation industry for war. The Air Force accelerated its production of fighter planes and bombers, as well as training of existing and new pilots. In 1936, he was given dictator powers to control the German economy by the Four Year Plan. He started the Hermann Goering Works in 1937, which employed 700,000 people and made him a very rich man.
Using his money, Hermann purchased a huge mansion in Berlin and several other properties. There, he often had social events, which included hunting parties, feasts, and dances. He was always dressed extravagantly, wearing expensive suits and uniforms adorned with his medals.
On November 9, 1938, the "Crystal Night" occurred, in which many Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed by German Police. Afterward, he fined the Jewish people a billion marks (an exorbitant sum) and started isolating the Jews from the Aryan population. On July 31, 1941, he ordered Heydrich to begin the final solution of the Jewish question, which initiated the extermination of the Jewish population.
Hermann identified fully with Hitler's aspirations for German domination of the European continent and encouraged the government to take actions that would make Germany great again. However, he insisted that Germany do so by diplomacy, rather than military action, a request that was ignored by Hitler.
On August 30, 1939, he was appointed Reich Council Chairman for National Defense. When Germany attacked Poland, he directed the air campaigns against both Poland and France. On June 19, 1940, he was appointed to Reich Marshal. By the end of 1940, he was convinced that the Air Force alone could conquer Europe and began making some bold moves. However, he began making mistakes (including the failed Battle of Britain) that allowed the British time to recover from bombings and rebuild their air defense.
Hermann's failures with the Air Force infuriated Hitler and caused Germany to cease its plans to invade England. His political career soon began to fail along with Germany's military dominance in Europe. By 1943, allied air squadrons were striking deeper and deeper in German territory, making the failure of the German Air Force very obvious. Hitler blamed him for all of Germany's defeats and Hermann slipped out of the spotlight into isolation. When Hitler announced that he would live in his bunker until the end of the war, Hermann asked to take control of the German military, but was subsequently booted from the Nazi party and arrested.
On May 9, 1945, Hermann was captured by the United States Army and charged with war crimes at the famous Nuremberg trials. Despite his strong defense of his actions and leadership of the other accused, he was found guilty of conspiracy to wage war, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to hanging, but committed suicide on October 15, 1946 by eating a cyanide pill before the execution could be carried out.
A former American soldier, Herbert Lee Stiver, confessed in early 2005 to supplying Hermann with the cyanide pill. Apparently, he had been convinced by a German agent to give Hermann messages hidden in a fountain pen and would do so when he served as a guard in the prison that held the accused war criminals. On one occasion, he was given a pill inside of the pen, which would supposedly cure Hermann of an ailment, not knowing that it was cyanide. Stivers was not charged for his actions since he confessed so long after the trials had taken place.