“Of all the big Nazi leaders Hermann Goering was for me by far the most sympathetic….a brutal buccaneer…..I had a real liking for him.”
So reminisced the British Ambassador to Nazi Germany from 1937-39, Sir Neville Henderson. An amusing story claims that Sir Neville even shouted at Hitler and lived to recount the story. Not sure if this is confirmed but he certainly knew Goering, Ribbentrop and most of the upper echelon of the Nazi party, both politically and socially; always important in diplomatic circles.
If my memory serves me well the pirates or buccaneers of olden days who messed with the Kings Royal Navy, were when after captured and tried strung up from the ships main beam or high gallows. Goering certainly “messed” with British forces and should have hung but he didn’t, so how did this “buccaneer” conveniently beat the noose, well we will return to this controversial issue later in another article, and see if perhaps we can offer a likely scenario.
HG as some have referred to him and we will also do the same was born in 1893, to it seems a happy family with a younger brother Albert (interestingly he would later become disillusioned with Hitler and only survived the Gestapo and prison with his brother’s influence). Albert Goering later assisted many Jews and others during those difficult years and today a forest in Israel is quite rightly named after him.) With three sisters who it seems adored HG the family was complete. His father served in the German diplomatic service with the young Herman being baptized into the Protestant faith but whether this made any spiritual impression on his character in later life is debatable.
Young HG seemed to be a “temperamental and domineering” child and because of this aberration, he was later dispatched by his father to a strict boarding school. Then later on to a military cadet academy. This life seems to suit him and later prepare him for entry into an infantry regiment at the beginning of the War (1914-1918) as a 21-year-old serving officer. Later he would bag a coveted Iron Cross, maybe or 1st or 2nd class and later as a fresh pilot in the fledgeling German Air Force he would join the legendary “Red Baron” Von Richthofen (to Goering this man would be an early hero until Adolph Hitler entered the stage.) HG enlisted in the elite “JG1” flying squadron and received during those war years from the coveted “Order Pour Le Merite.” By the wars end the rule of the Kaiser had ceased. Now Germany drifted into dangerous political waters. HG found himself without a job or a mission in life. He did, however, have one skill to offer-he could fly and the dawn of aviation was just dawning and the Luftwaffe was just around the corner!
If the twisted roots of Nazism flourished anywhere in those turbulent post-war years then Munich has to be awarded that doubtful honour.
Some years ago James and I visited this Bavarian town to street preach and distribute some German tracts we had purchased. Whilst there we met a German preacher named Roland who very kindly translated for our own preaching. I can still see him now (a tall elderly gentleman clutching a long thin brass cross as he devoutly preached to the passing crowds.) I wonder if he is still doing God’s work in that town but it was good to meet him.
In those distorted years of the early 1920s HG enrolled in Munich University as a mature student and incidentally, during the war, the “White Rose” league, headed by Sophie School and her brother and others, would cause mayhem to the Gestapo German network from this university. The building today with its vast foyer is very much the same as when Sophie threw her anti-war protest flyers to the crowds of students far below the balcony in 1942. It must have been something to see.
It’s still our opinion that for the young Christian all universities or any such places of learning are indeed dangerous to the young person’s faith. It was also the same in Germany in those frenetic days as Hitler’s dangerous grip on the country increased, anywhere that is in the beer cellars, lecture halls and on the streets.
The Nazi menace was now on the march and HG would meet the man who would replace the red baron in his affections this man would be proclaimed: “Der Fuehrer” by millions of adoring Germans. He was, of course, Adolph Hitler.
When HG happily signed up for the Nazi party in 1922 he was 29-years old-he also quickly accepted Hitler’s commission to mould the SA military wing into a street-fighting machine. This it seems he did with much success! The men seemed to like him, maybe he spoke their language.
As one witness wrote concerning Goring’s recruits: “On January 28th 1923 for the first time….they marched in serried ranks and the beautiful song, ‘We have come to pray’ was given a new meaning. Hitler consecrated the flag.”
One has to enquire to what god have they come to pray to and as regards Hitler consecrating stained flags, this reminds me of some fanatical Inquisition Cardinal doing the same ritual or a Croatian bishop during the war repeating the same ceremony over dead Serb bodies. It’s all religious theatre that achieves nothing.
Any political party that builds is tenets upon religious racism is doomed to failure and that means your government and mine.
With the Nazis there particular animosity was directed solely at the Hebrew race-well at first anyway. Later the eventual Nazi extermination on the coming agenda would have to be worked out in detail at the infamous Wannsee conference of 1942. This orchestrated wave of anti-Semitism has always been a stain on Europe’s bloody ethnic history. Just look at the programs and their terrible consequences and don’t forget the British extermination camps in South Africa, especially at Bloemfontein in 1901. HG was only too happy to remind the British prosecution team years later at Nuremberg about these acts against a defenceless people.
HG had always had an uneasy relationship with the German Jews, the ethnicity of that race had even permeated into his own family, with doubts about his own brother Albert parentage. For years the Reich Marshall would try to conceal this from most of his enemies in and out of the Nazi party.
Incidentally, there’d long been suggestions that most of the Jewish DNA bloodlines were also concealed in Hitler’s own family tree as well as other prominent Nazi elite including Reinhardt Heydrich and Field Marshal Milch.
One amusing story concerning these rumours was when HG was informed by a zealous SS officer that HG’s old aviation mate, Erhard Milch, was after much investigation by his department, deemed to be half Jewish. This was very serious, remarked the officer and what was the Reich Marshall going to do about it. HG merely growled slowly in German when he heard this news: “Wer Jude ist bestime Ich. I decide who is Jewish.” And there spoke Hitler’s number two henchmen. From now on any ongoing investigation on this matter was now to be closed. Was that understood he asked? It was replied yes and the officer then quickly left the room. The President of the Reichstag had spoken. Kaput!
However, HG certainly assisted many known Jews to obtain exit visas to leave Germany. Indeed many lives and families can thank him for such an act. Including the two Jewish Ballin sisters who had cared for him when the putsch at the Odeonplatz in the centre of the Munich in 1923 failed and HG for his efforts collected a stray bullet in the groin. “We will never forget what you have done for Hermann,” wrote an appreciative Karin Goering to the sisters. They would later leave Germany with a safe passage. Goering never forgot the sisters kind treatment that was afforded to him by them. I do wonder if they corresponded with him when he was in prison in 1945/6?
I personally do not think HG was as obsessed with the so-called “Jewish dilemma” as much as some of the others Nazi top brass claimed. Instead, he was more preoccupied in quietly gaining his own self-importance in the Nazi party by whatever means, including even murder such as his old rival Ernst Roehm. He would of course willingly submit to the same old sins of the flesh that we all know about that of prestige, power, and of course pecuniary. So just throw in a castle on the Rhine/or hunting lodge, dress him in a toga and sandals with blood red nails of course. Then you can now present the “emperor Nero” of the Third Reich to his audience. And all of these vanities he would later admit offered him: “twelve happy years.” But nothing lasts does it, all things have to pass in this world.
It is certainly not the purpose of this short article to detail the life and eventual downfall of HG. He has many able biographers who have already achieved this.
This is a ministry that tries to understand spiritually how men can through their own selfish endeavours (and much of it self-inflicted) sign their own death warrants. All of us someday will face a higher authority. Then judgment will be quickly dispensed. Ashamed fallen world will stand in the dock of retribution awaiting its fate. But it is of the attitude and personality of HG when he was finally caged in Nuremberg jail awaiting his trial (prison number 31G350013 no less!)) with the other Nazi cohorts that become interesting at this time of our research.
By 1945 HG was under curfew but as The Reich Marshall’s weight decreased (by eighty pounds no less) he still wore his frayed blue Luftwaffe uniform and without any prominent insignia and with the loss of his weight it must have hung from him in folds. His now mental abilities somehow quickly increased.
The American prosecutor Robert Jackson quickly came off second best in his cross-questioning of HG because: “Jackson flung down his earphones in a rage at one of Goering’s long and persuasive replies,” it is reported. It would however be later left to British K.C Sir David Maxwell Fyfe to use his legal skills, “to slice and dice Goering down to size.” This Fyfe did. HG would later be punished for this act against the court and encouraging others to do the same. From now on he would eat his meals on his own away from the other defendants. Col. Andrus must have seen him as a bad influence on the other prisoners under his care.
As the trial neared its closure HG I suspect was planning his own departure from this world and it would NOT be at the end of a noose if he had his way in the matter.
Before we examine the suicide of HG and how it could possibly happen, two men would enter the life of HG and I suspect leave a lasting influence upon his declining days. They would be Capt. Henry Gerecke (the American Lutheran Chaplain) and another assistant Pastor on the ecumenical team was Carl Eggers, he would later sum up HG as a “good-natured charmer.” He must have got to know HG rather well it seems. However, the one man who did not fall for this false bonhomie was the prison Commandment and professional soldier, Col. Burton C. Andrus. He before Nuremberg was in charge of the Mondorf Interrogation Centre (a holding dock for the prisoners before transfer to Nuremberg.) Later he remembered when he first made the acquaintance of HG: “When Goering came to me he was a simpering slob with two suitcases full of paracodeine. I thought he was a drug salesman. But we took him of his dope and made a man of him.”
Later he appointed prison shrink offered his own diagnosis after evaluation of HG he surmised that HG was, egotistical, cunning and cynical. Nothing we didn’t already know. The former Reich Marshall rated an IQ of 138; he was delighted with the results. (In fact, he scored the same as Admiral Doenitz) he weighed 192 lbs and was 5ft10in tall. HG quickly denied any suicidal preoccupations with a straight face and a lie on his lips. Rather looks like this doctor read HG’s state of mind very badly doesn’t it. I suspect by now HG had decided that he and he alone would decide when he would exit this world and on his own terms no less. Wasn’t it just play acting, something he had always enjoyed doing. And what about the trial pictures of him wearing those heavy dark glasses along with Admiral Doenitz sporting a pair. The two rather look like some over the hill Hollywood film producers searching for a viable script to drop into their laps.
In examining HG’s spiritual/mental confusion whilst in Nuremberg it seems he obviously had some grounding in Bible theology, yet like so many conceited arrogant men he merely wished to debunk its true meaning and never to try and understand its saving message. In the final months of his life we are told “he wrote more letters to friends and relatives outside the prison than any of the other prisoners,” reported the Colonel. Who knows maybe an AV1611 Bible with some tracts arrived in the post for him. I like to think so.
The last few months of HG’s life allowed him to participate in the Sunday morning religious services, organized by Chaplain Gerecke for him and thirteen other Lutherans who felt the need to atone for their sins the chaplain humorously recalled:
“Goering always stumped into the little chapel first to get a seat at the front…..then when they sang a hymn no one boomed it louder that Goering.”
Goering certainly sounded devout in the chapel. However, the Nazi informed Chaplain Gerecke that he had rejected Lutheranism long ago, although he was not a complete atheist. Again HG like so many other agnostics cannot completely walk away from Christianity. There is always that doubt and although I do not equate the Lutheran faith with the born again aspect of being saved his remarks do shine some peculiar light on the balance of his mind at that time why even HG’s second marriage to Emmy was performed in a Protestant cathedral with the pro-Nazi Bishop Muller (there were many others in the denominations in Germany at the time who eagerly supported Hitler and his reforms) performing the so-called “Christian nuptials,” strange isn’t it. But was it all compromise with him or a sly co-operation with the prison authorities to gain favourable points-who knows.
But how easy rejection brings pain, again the Chaplain witnessed Goering break down in tears when told of his little daughter’s reaction to his death sentence: “I hope to meet daddy in heaven,” the little one stated so simply. Despite this Goering ridicules the Holy Bible and its teachings: “Death is death,” he replied. “She believes in her manner, and I in mine.” Even then he was a loser and couldn’t see it. Days later he was dead. I have to believe unsaved. (Following this article we will be looking at the suicide of Hermann Goering and examine some of its findings.)
And it is clear from another confused statement from HG when later he would murmur to Gerecke: “Pastor I believe in God.” But isn’t this a false image of a God of choice that so many people proudly trumpet and proclaim as their very own. These are merely false replicas from assorted religions that inhabit our fallen world so often promoted by lustful clergy and a televangelist with their snouts permanently in the money trough-how sickening it all is.
Later because of these inconsistent opinions Captain Gerecke refused to permit HG to partake of the last communion, or breaking of the bread. I believe his decision was correct. I do suspect he agonized over its implications.
On the designated night and just two hours before his appointment with the American hangman HG committed suicide and because of this calculated decision, his place in history would now be assured forever. But I have to suggest if he had merely been hung that night HG would be a mere footnote in the folklore of old Nuremberg town.
Herman Goering was but one of the many evil perpetrators of the 20th Century there were indeed many more. “The wicked shall be turned into hell….” Ps. 9:17 gravely reminds us. All of Hermann Goering’s deeds and achievements amounted to simply nothing. They are but a warning from history. We chose to ignore them at our own peril.
Footnote: HG once boasted that in sixty years time statues would be erected in his memory throughout Germany. Well, he was certainly wrong about that prediction. However some years ago the most popular knitting pattern purchased by German women through mail order was the one with a portrait of HG no less on the cover and there he stands proudly in a white cable woollen cardigan was this The Third Reich’s last male model!
PPS: The nickname “Meyer,” Goering awarded to himself when in 1940 he proclaimed to the German people, “If any British planes ever drop bombs on Berlin. You can call me Meyer!”
“The RAF will bomb Berlin,” ordered Winston Churchill after this boast from HG. The rest is of course history.
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Hermann Goering, Wolfgang Paul
The Reich Marshall, Leonard Mosley
Goering, F.H. Gregory
The Infamous of Nuremberg, Burton C. Andrus
(All Rights Reserved)