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 well-being 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 by surprise Adolf 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 to the Allies.

Göring, the man who had agreed to the highest political and military hierarchies thanks to Hitler, he was now informing the Führer, by means of a respectful and brief telegram, that he would assume total 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 powerArchive

The Führer interpreted the telegram as “high treason”, even though a 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 meant certain death, and that Göring could be the one in charge of negotiating peace with the victorious forces.

There wasn’t much time. The Germans fell back on all fronts and took refuge in Berlin as the last bastion, while the Soviets and Western Allies they competed 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 Reichsmarschallthought that 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, 1945Archive

Taking refuge 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 mostly 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 well-being of the Nation and the Fatherland”.

Hitler, advised by his personal secretary, Martin Bormann, responds to 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 ridicule. 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 gargantuan IQ, skilled at combining charm, cunning, and cruelty to get what he wanted: skills that he used to the end”, highlighted the English specialist in the Second World War, james hollandin a historical profile on the highest Nazi leader after Hitler.

Hitler and Göring at a rally in 1928 as the Nazi party prepared to seize power
Hitler and Göring at a rally in 1928 as the Nazi party prepared to seize powerArchive

Hermann Wilhelm Goring He was born on January 12, 1893 in Bavaria, he was an infantryman 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 cunning and bravery earned him numerous victories in the air and earned him the iron Crossthe highest military recognition but, after the war in 1918, he had to earn a living as a commercial pilot for the Swedish airline Svensk Lufttrafik.

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

Hermann Goring
Hermann GoringArchive

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 stage a coup and take control of Munich, which later became known as “the brewery hit”. Three thousand Nazis marched on Munich with Hitler, Göring and other nationalist ex-combatants at the head, but the attempt against the Weimar Republic was a failure, the repression was fierce, 16 fascist agitators died and Göring was seriously injured 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 quirky characteristics.Holland writes. “The addiction led Göring to a mental hospital in 1925. He emerged from these dark passages by the force of his will and with the encouragement of his wife Carin, only to discover that the Nazis had locked him out.”

Göring recovered, left 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.

Henceforth his political career would not stop. Founder of the secret police Gestapo, once Hitler took 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; Vice Chancellor of the Reich, Reichsminister of Economics and President of Prussiaamong other positions, and head of the ambitious four-year plan for German rearmament in the years before World War II.

Hermann Göring, Emmy Sonnemann and Edda Göring
Hermann Göring, Emmy Sonnemann and Edda GöringArchive

However, the success with which Göring strutted around adorned with a megalomaniac exhibitionismboasting of being Europe’s greatest art collector and of breeding exotic felines 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 was not up to the rival power.

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

Hermann Göring, the most powerful Nazi in Germany after Hitler, arrested by the United States Army
Hermann Göring, the most powerful Nazi in Germany after Hitler, arrested by the United States ArmyArchive

On April 29, 1945, while Germany is collapsing and the Soviets are on 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 Braun.

In the testament, Hitler expels his number two, natural heir to the Third Reich and compadre, Hermann Göring, from the Nazi party and all its hierarchical attributes; annuls the decree of 1941 that anointed the Reichsmarschall as successor in case something happened to him and appoints the admiral Karl DonitzCommander of the Kriegsmarine, as President of the Reich 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 May 6 to the United States Army 36th Infantry Divisionwas arrested and transferred to a Luxembourg prison, where he awaited his final trial in Nuremberg, the historic process carried out by an international court which tried 24 of the main leaders of the Nazi government, beginning in November 1945.

Among all the high officials processed, Göring was the highest ranking and the heaviest in every way. When he was arrested, he weighed 118 kilos and was 1.78 meters tall. During the year-long trial, the Air Force ace was forced off 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 hangingArchive

The evidence against him was overwhelming, but he said he knew nothing about extermination camps and pleaded “not guilty.” The court found him liable for assassinations of 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 platoonwith the honor that corresponds to a former combatant, but the court rejected his last will.

Hours before he was executed, the most important Nazi in history after Hitler bit into a vial of cyanide. 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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