Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering
Hermann Goering was born in
Rosenheim, Bavaria on 12th January 1893. The son of a senior
army officer, he was educated at a military school and
became a member of the Prussian Cadet Corps.
Goering joined the German Army in June, 1912. He served with
the infantry during the first few months of the First World
War but was hospitalized with rheumatoid arthritis of the
knees. After recovering, he transferred to the German Army
At first Goering was an observer for his friend and war ace,
Bruno Loerzer, but eventually became a fighter pilot and
scored his first victory on 16th November 1915. After the
death of Manfred von Richthofen Goering became the leader of
his JG 1 squadron. By the end of the war Goering had
achieved 22 victories and had been awarded the Iron Cross
and the Pour le Merite for bravery.
After the war, Goering earned his living as a pilot working
for the Fokker company based in Holland. While there he met
and married Baroness Karen von Fock-Kantzow.
Goering returned in 1923 and after hearing Adolf Hitler
speak joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP).
He later admitted: "it was political love at first sight".
Hitler also admired Goering and appointed him as head of
Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA (also known as
stormtroopers or brownshirts) were instructed to disrupt the
meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from
revenge attacks. Captain Ernst Roehm of the Bavarian Army
played an important role in recruiting these men.
On 8th November, 1923, the Bavarian government held a
meeting of about 3,000 officials. While Gustav von Kahr, the
leader of the Bavarian government was making a speech,
Goering, Hitler and the SA entered the building. Hitler
jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the
audience that the Munich Putsch was taking place and the
National Revolution had began.
Leaving Goering and the SA to guard the 3,000 officials,
Adolf Hitler took Gustav von Kahr, Otto von Lossow, the
commander of the Bavarian Army and Hans von Seisser, the
commandant of the Bavarian State Police into an adjoining
room. Hitler told the men that he was to be the new leader
of Germany and offered them posts in his new government.
Aware that this would be an act of high treason, the three
men were initially reluctant to agree to this offer. Hitler
was furious and threatened to shoot them and then commit
suicide: "I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one
for me!" After this the three men agreed.
Soon afterwards Eric Ludendorff arrived. Ludendorff had been
leader of the German Army at the end of the First World War.
He had therefore found Hitler's claim that the war had not
been lost by the army but by Jews, Socialists, Communists
and the German government, attractive, and was a strong
supporter of the Nazi Party. Ludendorff agreed to become
head of the the German Army in Hitler's government.
While Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst
Roehm, leading a group of stormtroopers, had seized the War
Ministry and Rudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews
and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria.
Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the
national government. Surprisingly, Hitler had not arranged
for the stormtroopers to take control of the radio stations
and the telegraph offices. This meant that the national
government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler's putsch and
gave orders for it to be crushed.
The next day Goering, Adolf Hitler, Eric Ludendorff, and
3,000 armed supporters of the Nazi Party marched through
Munich in an attempt to join up with Roehm's forces at the
War Ministry. At Odensplatz they found the road blocked by
the Munich police. As they refused to stop, the police fired
into the ground in front of the marchers. The stormtroopers
returned the fire and during the next few minutes 21 people
were killed and another hundred were wounded, included
Goering, who had two granite splinters (from a building) in
To avoid arrest Goering fled to Sweden. Goering, who lived
in Stockholm for the next four years, was in a poor physical
state because of his morphine addiction. He also suffered
from obesity and weighed 280 pounds.
In 1927 President Paul von Hindenburg granted Goering an
amnesty and he returned to Berlin. The following year he was
one of the twelve members of the Nazi Party elected to the
Reichstag and on 30th August, 1932, became its president.
When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in January, 1933, he
made Goering a cabinet minister without portfolio. Later he
became minister of the interior and prime minister of
Prussia. He immediately replaced 22 of Germany's 32 police
chiefs with SA and SS officers. He also appointed Rudolf
Diels as chief of the political police, the Gestapo.
After the Reichstag Fire on 27th February, 1933, Goering
launched a wave of violence against members of the German
Communist Party and other left-wing opponents of the regime.
He also joined with Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutz
Staffeinel, in setting up Germany's concentration camps.
Goering agreed that the Sturm Abteilung (SA) posed a threat
to the German Army and in June 1934 arranged the Night of
the Long Knives. He also purged Werner von Blomberg and
Werner von Fitsch from the high command of the army.
In February, 1938, Goering became head of Germany's armed
forces,. The following year he officially became Hitler's
deputy and legal heir. He obtained a vast income from his
various official posts and converted an old Berlin palace
into his official residence. Goering also made money from
his own newspaper, Essener National Zeitung and from stock
in the aircraft industry.
After the outbreak of the Second World War Goering was
placed in charge of the Luftwaffe and took credit for the
quick defeat of France, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg
in the summer of 1940. However, he failed to stop the
British evacuation of Dunkirk.
Goering organized the German war effort during the Battle of
Britain and made the crucial mistake of changing his tactics
and launching the Blitz in September, 1940. He was
criticized for the failings of the Luftwaffe during
When the Red Army made advances into Germany, Goering moved
his headquarters to Berchesgaden. After the suicide of Adolf
Hitler Goering surrendered to the US Army in Austria on 8th
Hermann Goering was found guilty at Nuremberg War Crimes
Trial but avoided execution by swallowing potassium cyanide
on 15th October, 1946