"The Iron Knight"
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
Göring was born in the Marienbad sanatorium, near Rosenheim, Bavaria. His father Heinrich Ernst Göring was a former cavalry officer and member of the German consular service. Göring's mother Franziska "Fanny" Tiefenbrunn came from a Bavarian peasant family. The marriage of a gentleman to a woman from lower class occurred only because Heinrich Ernst Göring was a widower.
Goring was the only major Nazi leader with any upper class pretensions, Goring's father had been a cavalry officer who became a senior member in the German Consular Service, ending as Consul General in Haiti.
Göring was one of five children; his brothers were Albert Göring and Karl Ernst Göring, and his sisters were Olga Therese Sophia and Paula Elisabeth Rosa Göring, the last of whom were from his father's first marriage While anti-Semitism became rampant in Germany of that time, his parents were not anti-Semitic. Goring was brought up in somewhat curious circumstances, living in one of two castles on the Austrian - Bavarian border which belonged to his mother's lover.
Göring joined the German Army in June, 1912. He served with the infantry during the first few months of the First World War but was hospitalized with rheumatoid arthritis of the knees. After recovering, he transferred to the German Army Air Service. At first Göring was an observer for his friend and war ace, Bruno Loerzer, but eventually became a fighter pilot and scored his first victory on 16th November 1915.
After the death of Manfred von Richthofen Göring he became the leader of his JG 1 squadron. By the end of the war Göring had achieved 22 victories and had been awarded the Iron Cross and the Pour le Merite for bravery.
After the war, Göring earned his living as a pilot working for the Fokker company based in Holland. While there he met and married Baroness Karen von Fock-Kantzow. With no possessions but a Fokker demonstration aircraft he entered civil aviation in Denmark, and then in Sweden. Through connections thus made, he met Swedish Baroness Karin von Krantzow, who had divorced her husband to become Goring's wife.
Georing was introduced to Adolf Hitler, and thereafter 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.
From the moment he joined the Party in 1922 and took command of the street-fighting organisation, the SA, Göring was the adviser, the active agent of Hitler and one of the prime leaders of the Nazi movement. As Hitler's political deputy he was largely instrumental in bringing the National Socialists to power in 1933, and was charged with consolidating this power and expanding German armed might.
He developed the Gestapo, and created the first concentration camps, relinquishing them to Himmler in 1934, conducted the Roehm purge in that year, and engineered the sordid proceedings which resulted in the removal of von Blomberg and von Fritsch from the Army.
In 1936 he became Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan, and in theory and in practice was the economic dictator of the Reich. Shortly after the Pact of Munich, he announced that he would embark on a five-fold expansion of the Luftwaffe. and speed rearmament with emphasis on offensive weapons.
Georing had joined the Reichstag in 1928, and subsequently became the parliament's president from 1932 to 1933, he was one of the key figures in the process of Gleichschaltung that established the Nazi dictatorship. For example, in 1933 he banned all Roman Catholic newspapers in Germany, despite the support the Centre Party had given to Hitler's chancellorship.
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Copyright Chris Webb and Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009