Biography of Reichsmarschall Herman Goering

Reichsmarschall (Marshal of the Empire) Hermann Goering had been an ace fighter pilot (with 22 kills) in the "Great War" succeeding to the command of Manfred von Richthofen's fighter squadron, the famous "Flying Circus" upon the death of the "Red Baron". After the war, he met Hitler, joined the Nazi party in 1922 and became a leader of the brown-shirted Stormtroops (Strumabteilung, hence, "Brownshirts" or SA). A member of the aristocracy, his social contacts were very valuable in selling the Nazis (the National SOCIALIST German WORKERS Party) to conservative industrialists as the only way to save Germany from the Reds!

While hospitalized for wounds taken in the Beer Hall Putch, he became morphine-addicted, a common occurrence in early 20th century medicine. Like many other "medical addicts", in an era when drugs were sold at every corner store, he kept this problem under control for many years, until World War II had begun.

When the Nazis came to power, Goering was made Minister of the Interior for Prussia, the largest German "State". This office controlled most of the police forces in Germany, and of the Geheime Staats Polizei (GESTAPO), in particular. In 1934, Goering gave control of the Gestapo to Himmler, as a payment for his assistance in the Night of the Long Knives coup that eliminated Ernst Roehm, leader of the SA and Goering's arch rival in the Nazi Party. Himmler combined the Gestapo with the Bavarian Political Police, (Germany's other secret police, which he already controlled) and with his SS, thus becoming an even bigger rival to Goering, but that is another story... .

In 1933, Goering also became the head of the Air Force, or Luftwaffe, the role for which he is most often remembered. He supervised its tremendous expansion, from a handful of prototype and trainers to the most powerful and modern air force in the world. He also supervised the reorganization of the German economy, which both prepared it for war and created the prosperity that the Nazis needed to satisfy most of the German public. Recognizing these achievements Hitler named Goering to be his successor (1939) and appointed him Reichsmarschall (Marshal of the Empire), in 1940.

After the war began, however, Goering made many mistakes in leading the Luftwaffe, which helped Germany to lose the war and lost him Hitler's favor. Some of the mistakes for which he is commonly blamed may have been Hitler's: what really let the British escape at Dunkirk, Goerings airplanes, Guderians tanks, or a diplomatic plan to go easy on the British so they would make peace? But most of Goering's problems arose from overconfidence in "AIR-POWER" and his tendency to boast.

The Luftwaffe's failure in the Battle of Britain weakened his credibility but the final blow was when Goering promised that the Luftwaffe would supply the surrounded German Sixth Army, trapped in Stalingrad, during the Soviet winter offensive. Hitler, never willing to let his Generals withdraw from any position, cancelled plans for the Sixth Army to escape while it still could, and told it to hold the city. Earlier in the war, the Luftwaffe had saved a smaller garrison under similar circumstances; but this time, the task proved too difficult and the Sixth Army was doomed. With this failure, Hitler lost all faith in Goering and made him the scapegoat for all the previous mistakes that caused the Sixth Army to be trapped.

Out of favor with Hitler, the defeated Goering lost control of his old addiction, and was less and less in command. He spent more time at Karinhall, his hunting lodge, and became notorious for plundering the museums of occupied Europe of art treasures for his private collections. Near the end of the war, when contact was lost with Hitler (cut off in Berlin by the Red Army) Goering tried to succeed him, as provided by the 1939 plan. But Hitler was still alive, and assuming that Goering had tried to overthrow him, had Goering arrested and named Admiral Doenitz as his new successor.

Goering was tried at Nuremburg for War Crimes and involvement in Crimes Against Humanity as a leader in the Nazi regime. He was convicted and sentenced to hang, but committed suicide before the execution could be carried out.