Hermann Goering: A Brief History

Updated on July 15, 2019
Larry Slawson profile image

Larry Slawson received his Masters Degree at UNC Charlotte. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian History.

Hermann Goering alongside Adolf Hitler. During his career, Goering became one of Hitler's closest associates.
Hermann Goering alongside Adolf Hitler. During his career, Goering became one of Hitler's closest associates. | Source

Introduction

Birth Name: Hermann Wilhelm Goering

Date of Birth: 12 January 1893

Place of Birth: Rosenheim, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire

Date of Death: 15 October 1946 (Fifty-Three Years of Age)

Cause of Death: Suicide

Place of Death: Nuremberg, Bavaria, Allied-Occupied Germany

Spouse(s): Carin von Kantzow (Married in 1923; Died 1931); Emmy Sonnemann (Married in 1935)

Children: Edda Goering

Father: Heinrich Ernst Goering

Mother: Franziska Tiefenbrunn

Siblings: Albert Goering (Brother); Karl Goering (Brother); Paula Elisabeth Rosa Goering (Sister); Olga Therese Sophia Goering (Sister)

Occupation(s): Aviator; Politician; Member of Hitler’s Cabinet; Art Collector; Leader in Nazi Party; Commander over Nazi Germany’s “Luftwaffe”

Political Affiliation(s): Nazi Party (NSDAP 1922-1945)

Military Service: German Empire (1912-1918); Weimar Republic (1923-1933); Nazi Germany (1933-1945)

Awards/Honors: Pour le Merite; Grand Cross of the Iron Cross

Hermann Goering at the age of fourteen.
Hermann Goering at the age of fourteen. | Source

Hermann Goering: Quick Facts

Quick Fact #1: Hermann Goering was born on 12 January 1893 in Rosenheim, Bavaria to Heinrich and Franziska Goering. Goering was the fourth child of Heinrich, who served as a cavalry officer and was the first “Governor-General” of the German protectorate of South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia). His mother Franziska, on the other hand, came from a long line of peasants in Bavaria. After giving birth to Hermann, Franziska joined her husband in Haiti (where he was to serve as a consul) for the next three years, leaving the baby in Bavaria alone.

Quick Fact #2: Young Hermann was interested in a military career from the time he was a young boy. In preparation for this sort of career, Hermann was sent to a boarding school at the age of eleven. However, the arrangement was short lived as the discipline of boarding school proved too much for young Goering who arranged for travel back home via train (after selling his prized violin for a ticket). Upon returning, Goering feigned illness in order to avoid being sent back. As a result, he was not forced to return by his parents.

Quick Fact #3: At the age of sixteen, Goering enrolled in the military academy at Berlin Lichterfelde, where he later graduated with distinction. Following his graduation (1912), Goering joined the “Prince Wilhelm Regiment (112th Infantry) of the Prussian Army. Following the death of his father, only a short time after his appointment to the 112th, World War One began in 1914, leaving Goering in a fight for his life in the area of Mulhausen. During the First World War, Goering’s regiment remained locked in their trenches along the French frontier. Because of the poor (and wet) conditions in the trenches, he was later hospitalized for rheumatism. While recovering, his friend (Bruno Loerzer) convinced Goering to transfer to the Luftstreikfrafte (Air Forces). However, his request was officially turned down by the German high-command.

Quick Fact #4: After failing to secure a transfer to the air combat forces, Goering informally transferred himself to the Feldflieger Abteilung 25 unit, serving as an observer for his friend Loerzer. Goering’s daring transfer, however, was quickly discovered by the German authorities, resulting in three-weeks confinement to his barracks (an order that was never officially carried out). Instead, Goering remained with Loerzer, and was later assigned to the Crown Prince’s Fifth Army, where he flew reconnaissance and bombing missions and later earned the Iron Cross, First Class for his efforts against enemy forces.

Quick Fact #5: During his stint in the German air force, Goering was seriously wounded in the hip during a dogfight, and was forced to recover (for nearly a year) in a military hospital. Following his recovery, Goering returned to Loerzer’s “Jagdstaffel 26” unit in February of 1917, and participated in numerous dogfights in the waning months of the war, scoring twenty-two air victories against enemy pilots. On 7 July 1918, following the death of Wilhelm Reinhard, Goering was promoted to commander over the “Flying Circus” (Jagdgeschwader 1) for his prior victories. Goering by this time, however, had grown quite arrogant; a position that made him highly unpopular among the men under his command.

Goering during his 52nd birthday (1945).
Goering during his 52nd birthday (1945). | Source

Quick Facts Continued...

Quick Fact #6: Goering remained in the aviation field after the First World War ended, and worked for both Fokker and the Swedish “Svensk Luftrafik” airline. He also embarked on a short career involving barnstorming, and later hired himself out for private flights. In 1921, Goring also met his future wife, Baroness Carin von Kantzow. Pressing Carin to obtain a divorce from her estranged husband, the pair married on 3 February 1922. After meeting Adolf Hitler during one of his many speeches, Goring also joined the Nazi Party in 1922. Both him and his wife soon moved to a suburb in Munich (Obermenzing), where he was given command of the “Sturmabteilung” (SA).

Quick Fact #7: Following his brief command of the Sturmabteilung, Goering began to advance through the Nazi Party ranks quite rapidly, and was later appointed to the position of “SA-Gruppenfuhrer” (Lieutenant General). From this newfound role, Goering maintained close ties with Adolf Hitler who grew to like Goering and his abilities to lead. As a senior member in the Nazi Party, Goering later took part in the “Beer Hall Putsch” of November 1923 that ended in failure. During the putsch, Goering was severely wounded in his groin, but managed to escape arrest by fleeing with his wife to Austria. The couple returned to Germany in 1927, where he re-entered the Nazi party and occupied one of the twelve Reichstag seats won by the Nazis during the 1928 election.

Quick Fact #8: Goering maintained a prominent role in the Nazi Party for the remainder of his career, becoming party leader of the Reichstag’s lower house, and later President of the Reichstag in 1932. From this position, Hitler was able to use Goering and his influential seat of power to centralize power within his hands and the Nazi Party. Following the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933, Goering and the Nazi Party eliminated the remaining political adversaries and opponents, allowing Hitler to rule unencumbered by democratic ideals of the past. Goering remained a steadfast supporter of Hitler, and played a vital role in the establishment of the Gestapo, concentration camps, and the German Luftwaffe, which he later became Reich commissioner over.

Quick Fact #9: With his command over the Luftwaffe, Goering also played a vital role in the war-ambitions of Adolf Hitler. Goering’s Luftwaffe participated in each of the blitzkrieg operations of World War Two. Goering’s early aviation victories, however, were soon displaced by his failure to secure victory during the Battle of Britain, as well as the Luftwaffe’s failure to halt the Allied bombing of Germany. In an attempt to save face, Goering retired to a more private life, where he continued to amass vast collections of art (looted from Jewish homes). Despite these attempts to escape from the public life (as well as his military failures), Hitler appointed Goering as his successor in 1939, and in 1940 promoted Goering to the rank of “Marshal of the Empire.”

Quick Fact #10: As the war came to a close in May 1945, Goering briefly attempted to usurp Hitler’s power for himself; a move that resulted in Hitler naming Dr. Joseph Goebbels as his successor. Allied victory soon made these changes irrelevant, however, as the death of Hitler and Goebbels (by suicide) provided a swift end to hostilities in Europe. Goering, for his part, readily surrendered to the Americans with the hopes of garnering light punishment (by feigning ignorance of the Holocaust and Hitler’s crimes). At his later trial in Nuremburg, however, Goering was condemned to be executed for his active role in numerous war crimes carried out against innocent Jewish civilians during the Holocaust. Before he could be hanged though, Goering poisoned himself inside his prison cell and died.

Goering after his capture by American forces.
Goering after his capture by American forces. | Source

Fun Facts About Goering

Fun Fact #1: Ironically, Goering’s “godfather” was a wealthy Jewish man by the name of Dr. Hermann Epenstein, who served as both a physician and businessman. The man had become friends with Goering’s father in Africa, and provided the family with several homes across Germany. This kindness came at a price, however, as it is believed that Goering’s mother later became Epenstein’s mistress; an act that lasted nearly fifteen years.

Fun Fact #2: Goering was well-known as a drug addict in his later life. Historians believe that his addiction developed following the failed “Beer Hall Putsch.” After being severely wounded in the groin during the event, Goering was given morphine on a daily basis to ease the pain. The daily doses, however, only led Goering to become addicted to the drug. Goering’s drug addiction was so intense that he was later locked away in a sanitorium and was forced to wear a straight-jacket while undergoing treatment for his addiction. Ironically, Goering’s addiction was not cured until his later capture by the Americans. While in prison (awaiting trial for his war crimes), Goering’s was forced to abstain from drug use altogether.

Fun Fact #3: In Goering’s later life, it is well-known that he lived an ostentatious lifestyle, and went to great lengths to procure stolen artwork and artifacts from Jewish homes. By the end of World War Two, Goering had amassed a tremendous collection of stolen goods.

Fun Fact #4: Goering was also famous for his obesity (due to a glandular problem), as well as his donning of peculiar uniforms and clothing. During hunting trips, numerous eyewitness reports describe how Goering enjoyed wearing medieval clothing, as well as a red Roman toga (a favorite of his, particularly on his various estates).

Fun Fact #5: Despite close connections with Hitler for the majority of his career, Goering was later expelled from the Nazi Party by Hitler for attempting to take control of the Third Reich (April 1945). Hitler viewed the power-grab as an attempt to overthrow him, and had Goering officially declared as a traitor. Following his dismissal, Goering retreated to his castle in Mautendorf, where he remained for the rest of the war.

“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.”

— Hermann Goering

Hermann Goering Quotes

Quote #1: “Would you rather have butter or guns? Preparedness makes us powerful. Butter merely makes us fat.”

Quote #2: “Of course people don’t want war. Why should a poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best thing he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?”

Quote #3: “Education is dangerous. Every educated person is a future enemy.”

Quote #4: “Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning.”

Quote #5: “I herewith commission you to carry out all preparations with regard to a total solution of the Jewish question in those territories of Europe which are under German influence.”

Quote #6: “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.”

Quote #7: “Shoot first and inquire afterwards, and if you make mistakes, I will protect you.”

Quote #8: “No enemy bomber can reach the Ruhr. If one reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Goering. You may call me Meyer.”

Quote #9: “The only one who really knows about the Reichstag fire is I, because I set it on fire!”

Quote #10: “What do I care about danger? I’ve sent soldiers and airmen to death against the enemy. Why should I be afraid?”

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Conclusion

In closing, Hermann Goering remains one of the most shameful and infamous figures to emerge from the Twentieth Century. Goering’s crimes against humanity, coupled with his efforts to place Adolf Hitler in a position of power in Germany resulted in bloodshed on a scale never before seen in human history. Although Goering later denied his participation in war crimes against Jews residing in Europe during the war, early documents from the Nazi Party indicate both an active and prominent role in the decision-making process of the genocide and mass-murders that took place. As additional documentation is discovered about Goering, it will be interesting to see what new forms of information can be pieced together about this vile and evil figure of modern history.

Works Cited:

Articles / Books:

Manvell, Roger and Heinrich Fraenkel. “Hermann Goring.” Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. 25 January 2019. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hermann-Goring (Accessed 12 June 2019).

Images / Photographs:

Wikipedia contributors, "Hermann Göring," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hermann_G%C3%B6ring&oldid=900650412 (accessed June 12, 2019).

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Larry Slawson

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      • Larry Slawson profile imageAUTHOR

        Larry Slawson 

        4 months ago from North Carolina

        I agree, Liz. Very ironic, indeed. So glad you enjoyed the article :) Hope you are doing well.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 months ago from UK

        I find it ironic that his godfather was Jewish. You have written a good summary of his life and the part he played in the Nazi regime.

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