Massive Mass Murderer Hermann Goering
There is no more enigmatic figure in the Third Reich's hierarchy than Herman Goering (Göring in German, we will use the American spelling because this is an American site). War hero, mental patient, romantic lover, vicious and pitiless mass murderer, insightful strategist, inept bungler - Goering was all of these, and much, much more.
|Hermann Goering always retained a tight bond with his pilots.|
|Goering in a typical heroic pose.|
If you are a reasonable person, I'm not going to make you more reasonable, and if you're not, I'm not going to change you into one by pointing out the obvious. I trust people to draw the appropriate conclusions on their own without having to be told "This is good" or "He was evil." That should be evident from the facts themselves - and the facts do speak loudly about Hermann Goering. I do let adjectives creep in when something is particularly heinous, but overall, let's play it straight down the middle.
Okay, let's see what we can learn about Hermann Wilhelm Goering.
|Hermann Goring marked the completion of his pilot’s qualifications by posing in his training airplane at Freiburg.|
Rumors abounded later as to who fathered who - Hermann's brother Albert, an anti-Hitler protester throughout his life, was a favorite subject of such talk, Hermann himself occasionally. It was an odd arrangement, but it meant that Hermann grew up in a setting infused with Teutonic legends of German knights, which kindled in him an enthusiasm for a military career at a young age.
World War IAfter graduating from a military academy, Hermann joined the 112th Infantry Regiment in 1912, stationed at Mulhouse in Alsace near France. Stricken with rheumatism in the trenches, he was visited by friend Bruno Loerzer, who spoke glowingly of the new German Air Force (Luftstreitkräfte).
After Goering's request for a transfer to this daring arm of the German Army was turned down, Goering started flying missions with Loerzer anyway. The Army gave up and finally approved the transfer, and Goering and Loerzer flew reconnaissance and bombing missions together. This brought them both the Iron Cross, first class. Loerzer remained tight with Goering to the end, one of Goering's cronies with whom he could "share a drink."
|Goering during World War 1, wearing his Iron Cross but no Pour le Mérite yet.|
|Hermann was a World War I ace.|
|Oberleutnant Hermann Goring, wearing his Pour le Merite, standing by a Fokker D.VII, possibly 324/18, with which he scored his twentieth aerial victory.|
Post-War PenuryGoering had trouble scratching out a living after the war. He wound up flying for a Swedish airline and hiring himself out on the side. One of these private flights was to a frozen lake beside a Swedish castle owned by Count Eric von Rosen. Staying the night, Goering met Baroness Carin von Kantzow, Rosen's sister-in-law who had a young son and was estranged from her husband. After Carin got a divorce, the two got married on February 3, 1922. Carin was the love of Goering's life, and he paid tribute to her long after her untimely death at a young age.
|Goering in the early days.|
|Goering was especially useful in dealings with Sweden because of his marriage to Carin. Here he is with King Gustav and the Crown Prince.|
|Goering's tenure as head of the SA is often forgotten. Goering was jokingly referred to as Hitler's "bouncer" until joking about him became hazardous to your health.|
|Carin and Hermann Goering, likely during the 1920s.|
|Goering giving one of those "OMG how many more of them are there?" looks, while Hitler keeps that arm rock steady despite the fact it must be tiring to stand like that.|
|Goering and Hitler at the reburial in Germany of Karin Goering at Karinhall in the 1930s. It is always fascinating to see Hitler giving a Hitler salute.|
Goering: Man of Action, Happy HusbandHitler had come to rely on Goering for special projects, of which there were many during the 1930s. Hitler admired Goering for being cold and pitiless when events demanded it, and it must be said that Goering, in fact, did display those qualities throughout his life. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor on 30 January 1933 - the most important date in all of their lives - the suspicious Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933, took place. Goering was in the vicinity, and there is the very good possibility that he and/or his minions set the fire themselves in order to advance their agenda (and General Franz Halder claimed that Goering confessed to it years later).
|Goering on the range. Contrary to legend, he did not just sit around eating bonbons. Well, he might have done that too, but he got outside sometimes.|
|Goreing hit the bullseye with van der Lubbe.|
|Goering with wife Emmy, daughter Edda, and Hitler|
Was Hermann Goering a Homosexual?Goering's sexual proclivities are of interest to people for some reason, so this is a good time to look at the eccentricities of Hermann Goering and how that might relate or not relate to his sexuality. If you want to just assume things in this area, well, lots of people do. If you want the truth, though, you have to understand a little bit about the man himself and put everything into context.
|Goering with his pet lion, which he allowed to roam the grounds of Carinhall. Today, we would call him 'eccentric.' He had the funds to indulge his eccentricities.|
|Goering in traditional hunting garb at Hitler's Berghof estate.|
cross-dress in their uniforms. This was considered 'funny' (the girls invariably are laughing) and probably also sexual. Thus, the gender lines were weirdly blurred during the Third Reich in ways that are very difficult for us to fully understand. Perhaps it was a case of men being so masculine and authoritative that they got a thrill out of playing the submissive role.
|Goering showing his, um, unique fashion sense.|
|Hermann Goering at his dressing table with cheeks nicely rouged.|
|Goering had all sorts of odd habits for a military leader - such as his elaborate model train set in the attic at Carinhall which covered an entire room. Note that he is wearing a traditional leather vest, too.|
|Goering was not at all self-conscious about wearing multiple armbands and gold chains.|
|Goering greeting a visitor dressed in his fashion of choice.|
|Goering with Emmy and his lion at Carinhall. He appears to have applied a bit too much rouge that day. Note the plush surroundings: Goering loved soft things, which was in marked contrast to Hitler, who invariably lived in masculine surroundings.|
|Goering loved to play with his elaborate trains up in the attic. Note that he appears to be wearing his leather vest - he did not just don it for show.|
Night of the Long Knives, Goering secluded himself with Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and other cronies and used the Gestapo and soldiers to arrest Röhm and, while they were at it, anyone else they didn't like. At one point someone suggested offing a particularly annoying society lady just for the fun of it, and everyone laughed - that was the kind of night it was. It was all completely illegal, basically a group of gangsters taking out all their opponents without even the pretext of legality. Hitler lamely tried to justify it in a speech later as being necessary to destroy a developing plot against the State, an excuse that could justify just about anything with no proof required.
|Group shot of Hitler's inner circle around the time of the Night of the Long Knives. Note that Goering stands beside Hitler, unlike in earlier shots when he was off to the side.|
|Goering loved to hunt and instituted some of Europe's first protections for wild animals. Some of his innovations reportedly are still on the books. This picture also illustrates Goering's famous predilection for native German garb|
|Goering having a bite in January 1937, on the fourth anniversary of the seizure of power. (Federal Archive).|
|Photo of Goering showing his decorations, including the rare Pilot's Badge with Diamonds.|
|Goering quite literally was Adolf Hitler's right-hand man in the 1930s (well, here Hitler's left-hand man, but you get the idea).|
|Fritsch and Bloomberg.|
|Goering for some reason favored white uniform jackets, and since he could design his own outfits, that is what he often wore at formal occasions.|
|Goering looking quite pleased about something, trailed by Ernst Kaltenbrunner (happy), Hermann Fegelein (serious), and Heinrich Himmler.|
|Jews in Vienna forced to scrub the streets for laughing Germans after the Anschluss.|
|Anschluss enabled Goering to expand his own personal industrial empire. Here he is shown entering his new factory in Hitler's hometown. The Hermann Goering Works became the largest industrial conglomerate in Europe|
The city of Vienna can no longer rightfully be called a German city. So many Jews live in this city. Where there are 300,000 Jews, you cannot speak of a German city. Vienna must once more become a German city, because it must perform important tasks for Germany in Germany's Ostmark.
These tasks lie in the sphere of culture as well as in the sphere of economics. In neither of them can we, in the long run, put up with the Jew. Jews must get out not because of hatred for them, but because we cannot live with them. This, however, should not be attempted by inappropriate interference and stupid measures but must be done systematically and carefully.
As Delegate for the Four Year Plan, I commission the Reichsstatthalter in Austria jointly with the Plenipotentiary of the Reich to consider and take any steps necessary for the redirection of Jewish commerce, i.e., for the Aryanization of business and economic life, and to execute this process in accordance with our laws, legally but inexorably. "Goering also was involved in negotiating with Great Britain and other nearby nations. Quietly working behind the scenes, he set the stage for the divvying up of Czechoslovakia with Poland, Hungary, and Italy, and he had various back-channel discussions with British Prime Minister Chamberlain. As Goering liked to say then and throughout the war, he always had contacts with Great Britain through which he could send messages within hours. During those pre-war years, Goering was very much Hitler's right-hand man and did a lot of diplomatic work that set the stage for Hitler's successes. He also enjoyed the fruits of his successes, building Karinhall, his hunting lodge, on a 100,000-acre state park he set aside in the giant Schorfheide Forest north of Berlin. It was named after his dead first wife, Carin.
|Goering delivering a radio address in 1935.|
WarGoering, as leader of the economy (Four-Year Plan), also was the one man in Germany who understood the actual limitations on the German recovery. During the 1930s, he considered and rejected Luftwaffe plans for four-engined strategic bombers of the kind that the Allies were building: "Hitler does not ask me how big my bombers are, just how many I have," he would say. Instead, he focused on designing and building medium bombers that could give the troops ground support. Goering understood the limitations of the German military-industrial complex and was not deluding himself: he wanted war with neither Poland nor the Soviet Union, but Hitler would not listen. Goering had to resign himself to leading the Luftwaffe, his military domain since the service's reinstitution in 1935. But he does not get enough credit for building the Luftwaffe from nothing (its "birthday" was May 15, 1933) into a fearsome force of destruction that wreaked havoc across the face of Europe. It was an incredible accomplishment.
|I think that is a He 111.|
|Goering in uniform, prominently displaying his Pour le Mérite.|
In United States political terms, promoting Goering to Reichsmarschall was equivalent to making Hermann Goering Adolf Hitler's "Vice President." Goering's promotion was codified with a "secret decree" of June 1941.
Battle of BritainHitler did not hate the British: in fact, in a July 1940 speech, after having taken over the entire Continent, he publicly offered to call the war off, saying "there is no reason that this war should continue." Great Britain, of course, would have none of it. Accordingly, Hitler half-heartedly called for an invasion plan of England (Operation Sea-Lion). As this plan developed, it called for a multi-division descent upon England's southern coast, sort of a "D-day" in reverse. All plans, though, required two prerequisites: control of the sea and of the air. Since the British Navy could be suppressed by air attack and there was no hope of the German Navy doing it, the prospects for Operation Sea Lion boiled down to one confrontation, that between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force (RAF).
Unfortunately for the Germans, the Battle of Britain was a battle they couldn't win. Due to decisions made by Goering years before, the Luftwaffe only had medium bombers suitable for troop support, not long-range heavy bombers that could effectively engage in a strategic bombing campaign. In addition, there weren't enough of them. However, that was not the real reason for the failure of the Germans during the Battle of Britain, and in fact, had a very small actual effect. The Heinkel 111s and Dornier 17s that Goering could throw at the British caused great damage, but they also showed the limits of the Luftwaffe's - or any contemporary air force's - abilities. Bombing accuracy was terrible due to inadequate available technology, not weaponry. The Navy, for its part, was nowhere near ready for a seaborne invasion at any point, so the whole thing was pointless. Instead of purpose-built landing craft, the best the Navy could do was assemble generic barges, which the RAF promptly bombed into splinters. It simply wasn't going to happen, and anyone possessing the facts knew that.
|German bombers flying in at wavetop height toward Britain.|
|Leaflets dropped on London by Germany in July 1940. History books gloss over this, but Hitler was the only one who wanted peace.|
|Lord Halifax to Germany: "Get lost."|
|September 15, 1940: a decisive day in world history.|
|Pilots of the 303rd Polish Fighter Squadron, 1940, Norfolk Airbase. England was loaded with pilots from throughout the Empire and its allies.|
|Heinkel 111 bombers attacking England.|
|Stukas during the Battle of Britain, 1940.|
|A downed JU-88 near the coast being guarded by British home forces. The pilot did a good job getting it down like that in one piece.|
Holding a losing hand, Hermann Goering sucked it up and drew the correct conclusion - painful as it was - over a year earlier than the British: he wisely pulled the plug on daylight attacks. He did make a mistake that day, but it wasn't discontinuing the daylight attacks: it was initiating night attacks. While these vastly reduced the Luftwaffe's losses and hurt the British, it was a doomed strategy. It infuriated the British and caused only easily sustainable damage. Indeed, the attacks boomeranged because they justified to (most of) the British the later colossal devastation of German cities by "Bomber" Harris on a scale many times greater than that of the Blitz (British attacks which many Britons courageously protested as immoral). Only the Americans from 1943 onwards were able to make daylight attacks work, helped by their huge bombers and the revolutionary Norden bombsight - but even they suffered huge losses at times and never really pulled it off until 1945. Goering could not just throw in the towel and stop everything even if he wanted to, for Hitler would have had a fit. But downgrading the effort to inconsequential nuisance attacks after one full month of failed major attacks was a good and timely decision.
|Classic German propaganda photo of the invasion of Crete. Perhaps this was a manufactured photo, but if so, it was a good job.|
|A propaganda photo of the invasion of Belgium.|
The attack on the Soviet Union: BarbarossaHaving been defeated over England, Hitler turned to the East and attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Goering was against this campaign, as he considered the whole affair too much of a gamble, but Hitler was adamant that it should proceed. As Goering explained at his Nuremberg trial, you did not argue with Hitler once the decision was made.
|Herman Goering receives a briefing regarding the situation on the Eastern Front sometime in 1942. They appear to be looking at the Caucasus.|
|Heinkel 111's come in on the deck to re-supply the Demyansk pocket. Flying low enabled them to avoid ground fire. Note the absence of any sign of Russian ground troops - the Germans noticed that, too. This encouraged them to liberate the pocket.|
|JU-52s resupplying Stalingrad in the dead of winter.|
|The JU-52 was the main German transport aircraft during the Stalingrad airlift.|
|A JU-52 approaching Stalingrad. Note that the guys near the camera are hip-deep in snow.|
RetreatAfter Kursk, the Luftwaffe was in retreat everywhere. There were too many enemies, not enough trained pilots, and fuel supplies were a major constraint on training and operations. New pilots had to be sent on missions after only a few hours of training - they knew it meant certain death, but they had no choice. Offensive operations became a thing of the past, and the focus shifted to defending the homeland. The Luftwaffe high command tried various tricks, some working better than others. Along the route of British/American penetration raids, the Germans formed the so-called Kammhuber line, which interdicted enemy raids beyond the range of fighter coverage. Day fighters ("Wild Boar") were used at night along with the usual night fighters ("Tame Boar") with fairly good results, but this greatly reduced defensive power during the day. These measures helped, but the Luftwaffe was weakening.
|Goering officiating at the funeral of Luftwaffe General Gunther Korten, killed in the July 20, 1944 attempt on Hitler's life. It is a cheerless affair, in a barren stadium devoid of anything resembling human warmth.|
He.219 Uhu ('Owl') sporting the effective Schräge Musik sloping cannon, 'wild boar' day fighters operating at night by the light of the moon and radio direction, and six veteran fighter squadrons recently withdrawn from the eastern front. The Luftwaffe was still in business, and the jet fighters were just around the corner.
The Allied attrition rate rose based on the Luftwaffe countermeasures, and the bombers were redirected to targets in France. While this could be characterized as a victory for the Luftwaffe in that Germany itself was no longer being battered, it also was ominous. The Western Allies now were targeting infrastructure in preparation for their invasion, which was a far greater threat to the Reich.
Advanced AircraftThe Luftwaffe remained intact, but losing planes and pilots fast. The one faint hope of recovery was advanced weaponry which would give the Germans superiority in the air once again.
|A German ME-262. It had its share of problems, but for its time was a superior combat aircraft, arguably the best of World War II.|
|The He 162 "Salamander," a desperate effort that held promise but came too late.|
|The Horten 229 was a single seat jet fighter designed by the Horten brothers, Walter and|