Hermann Goering was born in 1893 and died in 1946. Goering was one of the most senior politicians in Nazi Germany and a close confidante of Hitler. Wary of rivals, Goering did not have a harmonious relationship with the likes of Himmler, Hess and Goebbels who he saw as wanting to steal his power.
Goering he was born in Bavaria. His father was a member of the colonial service in Africa. Goering found fame in World War One as a fighter ace. He won numerous awards for bravery and was the last commander of the legendary Richthofen Fighter Squadron. By the end of the war, he could claim to have some degree of fame in Germany.
He spent time in Sweden – from 1924 to 1928 – before returning to Germany and being elected to the Reichstag in 1928. In 1932, Goering was appointed Speaker of the Reichstag. Outside of Hitler, he was certainly the most well known Nazi in Germany.
When Hitler was appointed chancellor and after the establishment of thedictatorship in Germany, Goering acquired many positions. He was appointed Prime Minister and Interior Minister for Prussia and he was given control of the Luftwaffe – Germany’s growing air force. Much impetus was given to the Luftwaffe to developed itself and to use modern fighter and bomber planes. When the war started, Germany was well equipped in the air to carry out Blitzkrieg with devastating effect against Poland.
The devastating impact of planes used during the attack on Poland in September 1939 strengthened his position within the Nazi Party. This continued when Blitzkrieg was launched on western Europe. However, his power started to wane after the failure of the Luftwaffe to destroy Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. Goering had also publically stated that no enemy bombs would land on Berlin “or my name is not Hermann Goering”. When this did happen, it dented his standing in the Nazi Party.
From 1940 on he fought to keep his power from others. Rather than fight for the same common goal, Goering and his rivals were constantly thinking of ways to extend their power at the expense of others. To what extent this damaged Germany’s ability to fight the war is difficult to assess – but Albert Speer in “Inside the Third Reich” believed it did not do their cause any good.
Goering’s behaviour became increasingly bizarre as the war progressed. He was addicted to drugs such as morphine. He became increasingly lazy and fat. His lifestyle became very ostentatious which angered many Nazis who were at least aware that the average German was suffering hardships during the Allied bombing campaign.
Goering was due to be executed on October 15th 1946. Just hours before his execution, he committed suicide by taking cyanide thereby cheating the hangman.