Hermann Göring

Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring - Röhr.jpg
Göring in January 1945
16th President of the Reichstag
In office
30 August 1932 – 23 April 1945
Preceded byPaul Löbe
Succeeded by
Minister President of Prussia
In office
10 April 1933 – 23 April 1945
Preceded byFranz von Papen
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Reichsstatthalter of Prussia
In office
25 April 1933[1] – 23 April 1945
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byAdolf Hitler
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe
In office
1 March 1935 – 24 April 1945
FührerAdolf Hitler
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byRobert Ritter von Greim
Additional positions
Reichsminister of Forestry
In office
July 1934 – 23 April 1945
ChancellorAdolf Hitler
Reich Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan[2]
In office
18 October 1936[2] – 23 April 1945
LeaderAdolf Hitler as Führer
Reichsminister of Economics
In office
26 November 1937 – 15 January 1938
ChancellorAdolf Hitler
Preceded byHjalmar Schacht
Succeeded byWalther Funk
Chairman of the Ministerial Council for Reich Defense[3]
In office
30 August 1939[3] – 23 April 1945
LeaderAdolf Hitler as Führer
Reichsminister of Aviation
In office
27 April 1933 – 23 April 1945
ChancellorAdolf Hitler
Oberste SA-Führer
In office
February 1923 – November 1923
Preceded byHans Ulrich Klintzsch
Succeeded byFranz Pfeffer von Salomon
Personal details
Hermann Wilhelm Göring

(1893-01-12)12 January 1893
Rosenheim, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died15 October 1946(1946-10-15) (aged 53)
Nuremberg, Bavaria, Allied-occupied Germany
Cause of deathSuicide
Political partyNazi Party (NSDAP; 1922–1945)
ChildrenEdda Göring
RelativesAlbert Göring (brother)
  • Aviator
  • Politician
  • Art collector
CabinetHitler Cabinet
Military service
Years of service
  • 1912–1918
  • 1923–1945
CommandsJagdgeschwader 1

Hermann Wilhelm Göring (or Goering;[a] German: [ˈɡøːʁɪŋ] (About this soundlisten); 12 January 1893 – 15 October 1946) was a German political and military leader as well as one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party (NSDAP), which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945. A veteran World War I fighter pilot ace, he was a recipient of the Pour le Mérite ("The Blue Max"). He was the last commander of Jagdgeschwader 1 (Jasta 1), the fighter wing once led by Manfred von Richthofen.

An early member of the Nazi Party, Göring was among those wounded in Adolf Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. While receiving treatment for his injuries, he developed an addiction to morphine which persisted until the last year of his life. After Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Göring was named as Minister Without Portfolio in the new government. One of his first acts as a cabinet minister was to oversee the creation of the Gestapo, which he ceded to Heinrich Himmler in 1934. Following the establishment of the Nazi state, Göring amassed power and political capital to become the second most powerful man in Germany. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe (air force), a position he held until the final days of the regime. Upon being named Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan in 1936, Göring was entrusted with the task of mobilizing all sectors of the economy for war, an assignment which brought numerous government agencies under his control and helped him become one of the wealthiest men in the country. In September 1939 Hitler designated him as his successor and deputy in all his offices. After the Fall of France in 1940, he was bestowed the specially created rank of Reichsmarschall, which gave him seniority over all officers in Germany's armed forces.

By 1941, Göring was at the peak of his power and influence. As the Second World War progressed, Göring's standing with Hitler and with the German public declined after the Luftwaffe proved incapable of preventing the Allied bombing of Germany's cities and resupplying surrounded Axis forces in Stalingrad. Around that time, Göring increasingly withdrew from military and political affairs to devote his attention to collecting property and artwork, much of which was stolen from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Informed on 22 April 1945 that Hitler intended to commit suicide, Göring sent a telegram to Hitler requesting permission to assume control of the Reich. Considering his request an act of treason, Hitler removed Göring from all his positions, expelled him from the party, and ordered his arrest.

After the war, Göring was convicted of conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials. He was sentenced to death by hanging, but committed suicide by ingesting cyanide the night before the sentence was to be carried out.

Early life

Göring was born on 12 January 1893[4] at the Marienbad Sanatorium in Rosenheim, Bavaria. His father, Heinrich Ernst Göring (31 October 1839 – 7 December 1913), a former cavalry officer, had been the first Governor-General of the German protectorate of South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia).[5] Heinrich had three children from a previous marriage. Göring was the fourth of five children by Heinrich's second wife, Franziska Tiefenbrunn (1859–15 July 1943), a Bavarian peasant. Göring's elder siblings were Karl, Olga, and Paula; his younger brother was Albert. At the time that Göring was born, his father was serving as consul general in Haiti, and his mother had returned home briefly to give birth. She left the six-week-old baby with a friend in Bavaria and did not see the child again for three years, when she and Heinrich returned to Germany.[6]

Göring in 1907, at age 14

Göring's godfather was Dr. Hermann Epenstein, a wealthy Jewish physician and businessman his father had met in Africa. Epenstein provided the Göring family, who were surviving on Heinrich's pension, first with a family home in Berlin-Friedenau,[7] then in a small castle called Veldenstein, near Nuremberg. Göring's mother became Epenstein's mistress around this time, and remained so for some fifteen years. Epenstein acquired the minor title of Ritter (knight) von Epenstein through service and donations to the Crown.[8]

Interested in a career as a soldier from a very early age, Göring enjoyed playing with toy soldiers and dressing up in a Boer uniform his father had given him. He was sent to boarding school at age eleven, where the food was poor and discipline was harsh. He sold a violin to pay for his train ticket home, and then took to his bed, feigning illness, until he was told he would not have to return.[9] He continued to enjoy war games, pretending to lay siege to the castle Veldenstein and studying Teutonic legends and sagas. He became a mountain climber, scaling peaks in Germany, at the Mont Blanc massif, and in the Austrian Alps. At sixteen he was sent to a military academy at Berlin Lichterfelde, from which he graduated with distinction.[10] (During the Nuremberg war-crimes trials in 1946, psychologist Gustave Gilbert measured him as having an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 138.)[11]

Göring joined the Prince Wilhelm Regiment (112th Infantry, Garrison: Mülhausen) of the Prussian Army in 1912. The next year his mother had a falling-out with Epenstein. The family was forced to leave Veldenstein and moved to Munich; Göring's father died shortly afterwards. When World War I began in August 1914, Göring was stationed at Mülhausen with his regiment.[10]