Hermann Göring, the fearsome Nazi leader whom Hitler dismissed as a traitor hours before committing suicide

“I will consider that the conditions of your decree have been fulfilled and I will take measures for the welfare of the Nation and the Homeland. You know what I feel for you in these hours, the most difficult of my life, and I cannot express it in words. God protect you and allow you despite everything to come here as soon as possible. your faithful Hermann Goring”.

The telegram, signed by the number one in the line of succession of the Third Reich, took the Adolph Hitlerand made him explode with fury, that early morning of Monday, April 23, 1945 in the Führerbunker in Berlin, the anti-aircraft fortress where the Nazi leader spent his last hours before the German capitulation against the allies.

Göring, the man who had agreed to the highest political and military hierarchies thanks to Hitler, he now informed the Führer, by means of a respectful and brief telegram, that he would assume full control of the course of the war and the leadership of Germany “in case negotiations were necessary” since, from Bavaria “I would be in an easier position than you in Berlin.”

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring, the first in the line of succession to Nazi powerFile, Archive

The Führer interpreted the telegram as “high treason”, even though the day before he had gathered his generals telling them that the war was lostthat he was not going to escape from Berlin, that he would stay until the end, which implied certain death, and that Göring could be in charge of negotiating peace with the victorious forces.

There wasn’t much time. The Germans withdrew on all fronts and took refuge in Berlin as the last bastion, while the Soviets and Western Allies they were competing to reach the destroyed German capital first and proclaim total victory. The end of World War II was a fact.

When his lieutenants came with the minutes of the meeting between Hitler and his generals, Göring, the most powerful man in Germany who held the title of reichsmarschallhe thought it was time to rescue the old decree that the Führer had signed in 1941 and by which, if Hitler resigned, lost his freedom of action or died, he would be the direct successor, as it was written.

The telegram that Göring sent to Hitler on April 23, 1945
The telegram that Göring sent to Hitler on April 23, 1945File, Archive

Refugee in Obersalzberg, Bavaria, awaiting the outcome, the aeronautical hero of the First World War sent to write his last telegram in power. Surrounded by luxuries, medals, haute couture military suits and exotic animals, visibly obese from stress, but more than anything from excess food, wine and morphine, Göring sends Hitler the message that will seal his fate. He tells her that, after learning that the end was inescapable, he felt “obliged to assume, in case there is no answer at 10:00 p.m. sharp, that you have lost your freedom of action”, and that “then I will consider that the conditions of your decree have been fulfilled and I will take measures for the welfare of the Nation and the Homeland”.

Hitler, advised by his personal secretary, Martin Bormann, he answers Göring in harsh terms. He considers his attitude as “high treason” and forces him to resign from all charges against him, otherwise he would be executed. Göring resigns immediately. A political earthquake within the Nazi government has just happened.

“Göring’s elegant image made him a persistent figure of derision. The Germans mocked him and the foreign press painted him as a fat buffoon. But Hermann Göring was a colossus in every way: a cunning Machiavellian with a colossal IQ, skilled at combining charm, cunning and cruelty to get what he wanted: skills that he used until the end”, highlighted the English specialist in the Second World War, James Hollandin a historical profile on the highest Nazi hierarch after Hitler.

Hitler and Göring at a demonstration in 1928 as the Nazi party prepared to seize power
Hitler and Göring at a demonstration in 1928 as the Nazi party prepared to seize powerFile, Archive

Hermann Wilhelm Goring Born on January 12, 1893 in Bavaria, he was an infantry soldier during the First World War (1914-1918) and an aviator in the Luftstreitkräfte air combat forces, where he entered after much insistence as a reconnaissance pilot.

Over time, his shrewdness and bravery brought him numerous victories in the air and earned him the iron Crossthe highest military recognition but, after the war ended in 1918, he had to earn a living as a commercial pilot for the Swedish airline Svensk Lufttrafik.

In late 1922, as Germany was shaken by post-war political and economic instability and discontent among workers and ex-servicemen was growing, Göring attended a nationalist demonstration in Munich rejecting the onerous terms of the Treaty of Versailles, that condemned the country to the most undignified poverty. There he meets Hitler, by then a fledgling member of a marginal National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP)and they establish a relationship that will remain indestructible for 23 years.

Hermann Goring
Hermann GoringFile, Archive

His first position was as head of the Sturmabteilung or SA, the paramilitary wing of the Nazis, which quickly became a hierarchical and disciplined organization. In November 1923, Hitler convinced General Erich Ludendorff, a hero of the First World War, to carry out a coup and take control of Munich, which would later be known as “the brewery coup”. Three thousand Nazis marched on Munich with Hitler, Göring and other nationalist ex-combatants at their head, but the attempt against the Weimar Republic was a failure, the repression was fierce, 16 fascist agitators died and Göring was badly wounded with a shot to the groin.

“To ease Göring’s persistent pain, doctors injected him with morphine and he became addicted to the opiate. His dependency became a lifelong plague that caused or exaggerated many of his outlandish features.”Holland writes. “The addiction led Göring to a mental hospital in 1925. He emerged from these dark passages by force of his will and with the encouragement of his wife Carin, only to discover that the Nazis had locked him out.”

Göring recovered, gave up morphine for love, but only for a while, and returned to the Nazi party, to which he had donated all his money in the initial years, without receiving any kind of compensation, until, in 1928, he convinced Hitler and managed to run for election, becoming one of the first 12 Nazi deputies in history.

From then on his political career would not stop. Founder of the secret police Gestapo, once Hitler seized power in 1933 he would become the most powerful man in the Third Reich after the Führer; he was commander in chief of the new german air force, the luftwaffe; Reich Vice Chancellor, Reichs Minister of Economics and President of Prussiaamong other positions, and head of the ambitious four-year plan for German rearmament in the years before the Second World War.

Hermann Göring, Emmy Sonnemann and Edda Göring
Hermann Göring, Emmy Sonnemann and Edda GöringFile, Archive

However, the success with which Göring strutted about adorned with a megalomaniac exhibitionismBoasting about being Europe’s greatest art collector and breeding exotic cats at his Carinhall country residence, failed to translate into his strategic military performance during the war years.

The Luftwaffe achieved its great objectives and suffered heavy losses during the battles with the United Kingdom in 1940 and the eastern front in 1942, after a series of bad decisions made by Göring in the design and equipment of the aircraft, configuring a type of fighter-bomber that it was not up to the rival power.

Moving further and further away from the decisions of the war field, partly because of his failures as a commander and partly because of his renewed opiate addiction, the “fat jester” dedicated himself to enjoying business and his profits, his second wife, and his his little daughter Edda Goringborn in 1938 and baptized in the presence of her godfather Hitler, while millions of people were stripped of their property, expelled and taken to the extermination camps to achieve the “final solution”.

Hermann Göring, the most powerful Nazi in Germany after Hitler, arrested by the US Army
Hermann Göring, the most powerful Nazi in Germany after Hitler, arrested by the US ArmyFile, Archive

On April 29, 1945, as Germany collapses and the Soviets tread the outskirts of Berlin, Hitler dictates to his secretary Traudl Junge his last will in the Führerbunker in Berlin, a few hours before committing suicide with Eva Brown.

In the will, Hitler expels his number two, natural heir of the Third Reich and compadre, Hermann Göring, from the Nazi party and from all its hierarchical attributes; annuls the 1941 decree that anointed the Reichsmarschall as successor in case something happened to him and appoints admiral Karl Donitzcommander of the Kriegsmarine navy, as Reich President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Stripped of power, Göring is arrested by the SS, on Bormann’s order, and released by his Luftwaffe comrades days later. Surrendered 6 May to the 36th Infantry Division of the United States Armywas arrested and transferred to a Luxembourg prison, where he awaits his final trial in Nuremberg, the historic process carried out by an international court who tried 24 of the main Nazi government hierarchs, starting in November 1945.

Among all the high command prosecuted, Göring was the highest ranking and heaviest in every way. When he was arrested, he weighed 118 kilos and was 1.78 meters tall. During the year that the trial lasted, the Air Force ace forcibly gave up morphine, detoxified and lost weight. He seemed refreshed.

In Nuremberg, Hermann Göring was sentenced to death, along with eleven other comrades, by hanging.
In Nuremberg, Hermann Göring was sentenced to death, along with eleven other comrades, by hanging.File, Archive

The evidence against him was overwhelming, but he said he knew nothing about death camps and pleaded “not guilty.” The court found him responsible for assassinations against political opponents, war crimes, theft and looting of property, and crimes against humanity, torture, murder and enslavement of civilians, including more than five million Jews.

Göring was sentenced to death, along with eleven other comrades. The gallows awaited him. He asked to be shot, however, in front of a squadwith the honor that corresponds to a veteran, but the court dismissed his last will.

Hours before being executed, the most important Nazi in history after Hitler bit into a cyanide vial. He was in his bed, lying on his back. He died poisoned, as he had lived.

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Hermann Göring, the fearsome Nazi leader whom Hitler dismissed as a traitor hours before committing suicide

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