Fourth of five children
Only a couple of months old, mother weaned him and left him for three years with a surrogate family
1904 sent to boarding school at Ansbach, Franconia
Attended the cadet institutes at Karlsruhe and then to the military college at Lichterfelde
Given a commission in the Prinz Wilhelm Regiment No. 112
World War I
Participated in infantry when World War I began
Became ill with rheumatic fever
October 1914 became flying observer
Received Iron Cross, First Class
June 1915 began course to become a pilot
October 1915 posted to Jagdstaffel 5
Hit by bullet in thigh
Summer 1916 sent home on convalescent leave
Formally asked Marianne Mauser's father for his approval of marriage - allowed to get secretly engaged
November 3, 1916 reported back for duty; attached to Jagdstaffel 26
Made commander of a new squadron - Jagdstaffel 27
1917 awarded the Ordre Pour le Merite
July 7, 1918 appointed Kommandeur of Jagdgeschwader Freiherr von Richthofen No. 1 (the Red Baron's squadron - the "Flying Circus")
Disobeyed orders to disarm the squadron's planes and fly them to the French headquarters at Strasbourg; instead, he sent five planes to France and ordered the rest flown to Darmstadt, Germany and destroyed
End of WWI to 1933
Worked at Fokker Aircraft Works for two years
Became a stunt pilot and then a commercial pilot for Svenska Lufttraffik in Sweden
Met Carin von Kantzow (nee von Fock) while she was married to Captain Nils von Kantzow (Carin also had a son, Thomas, from this marriage)
1922 enrolled in the university at Munich
Fall of 1922 heard Hitler speak
1922 joined NSDAP
Immediately after oath of allegiance to Hitler (December 1922), Hitler appointed him commander of the SA
November 1923 participated in the Beer Hall Putsch, injured in groin and hip, fled to Austria; became addicted to the morphine that he was given to alleviate the pain from his injuries
September 1925 admitted to the Langbro Asylum in Sweden (he says here he kicked his morphine addiction)
1926 returned to Germany after amnesty
1928 elected to Reichstag
1930 reelected to Reichstag
1932 became President of the Reichstag
1933 to the End
Held many posts including: Reich Minister without Portfolio, Prussian Minister President, Reich Commissioner for Air, and Prussian Minister of the Interior
Some believe he was involved with the Reichstag Fire on February 27, 1933
March 1, 1935 named Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe (commander in chief of the Air Force)
Appointed by Hitler as Plenipotentiary for the Implementation of the Four-Year Plan
September 1, 1939 Hitler appointed him his first successor
June 19, 1940 was made Reichsmarschall (Reich marshal)
Began to lose favor with Hitler during the Battle of Britain because of the decreased effectiveness of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force)
May 9, 1945 captured by U.S. troops
Tried at the Nuremberg Trials
Found guilty on all four counts: conspiracy to commit crimes alleged in other counts, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity
October 15, 1946, two hours before his scheduled execution, he committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule he smuggled into prison.
Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.
---Hermann Göring (1936)
I am what I have always been: the last Renaissance man, if I may be allowed to say so.
I joined the party because I was a revolutionary, not because of any ideological nonsense.
Pompous and on the verge of ridiculous, he was a mixture of condottiere and sybarite. He was as vain, cunning and brutal as any other follower of Hitler, and yet he was more popular than any of them and for a time actually more popular than Hitler himself.
---Joachim C. Fest in The Face of the Third Reich, Page 111
Nazi leader, founded Gestapo, established the concentration camps, main defendant at Nuremberg, sentenced to death for guilt `unique in its enormity' but committed suicide before execution
Goering 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 Goering 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 Goering became the leader of his JG 1 squadron. By the end of the war Goering had achieved 22 victories and had been awarded the Iron Cross and the Pour le Merite for bravery.
After the war, Goering 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.
Goering returned in 1923 and after hearing Adolf Hitler speak joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). He later admitted: "it was political love at first sight". Hitler also admired Goering and appointed him as head of Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA (also known as stormtroopers or brownshirts) were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks.
Captain Ernst Roehm of the Bavarian Army played an important role in recruiting these men.
On 8th November, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting of about 3,000 officials. While Gustav von Kahr, the leader of the Bavarian government was making a speech, Goering, Hitler and the SA entered the building. Hitler jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the Munich Putsch was taking place and the National Revolution had began.
Leaving Goering and the SA to guard the 3,000 officials, Adolf Hitler took Gustav von Kahr, Otto von Lossow, the commander of the Bavarian Army and Hans von Seisser, the commandant of the Bavarian State Police into an adjoining room. Hitler told the men that he was to be the new leader of Germany and offered them posts in his new government. Aware that this would be an act of high treason, the three men were initially reluctant to agree to this offer. Hitler was furious and threatened to shoot them and then commit suicide: "I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!" After this the three men agreed.
Soon afterwards Eric Ludendorff arrived. Ludendorff had been leader of the German Army at the end of the First World War. He had therefore found Hitler's claim that the war had not been lost by the army but by Jews, Socialists, Communists and the German government, attractive, and was a strong supporter of the Nazi Party. Ludendorff agreed to become head of the the German Army in Hitler's government.
While Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst Roehm, leading a group of stormtroopers, had seized the War Ministry and Rudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria.
Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the national government. Surprisingly, Hitler had not arranged for the stormtroopers to take control of the radio stations and the telegraph offices. This meant that the national government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler's putsch and gave orders for it to be crushed.
The next day Goering, Adolf Hitler, Eric Ludendorff, and 3,000 armed supporters of the Nazi Party marched through Munich in an attempt to join up with Roehm's forces at the War Ministry. At Odensplatz they found the road blocked by the Munich police. As they refused to stop, the police fired into the ground in front of the marchers. The stormtroopers returned the fire and during the next few minutes 21 people were killed and another hundred were wounded, included Goering, who had two granite splinters (from a building) in his groin.
To avoid arrest Goering fled to Sweden. Goering, who lived in Stockholm for the next four years, was in a poor physical state because of his morphine addiction. He also suffered from obesity and weighed 280 pounds.
In 1927 President Paul von Hindenburg granted Goering an amnesty and he returned to Berlin. The following year he was one of the twelve members of the Nazi Party elected to the Reichstag and on 30th August, 1932, became its president.
When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in January, 1933, he made Goering a cabinet minister without portfolio. Later he became minister of the interior and prime minister of Prussia. He immediately replaced 22 of Germany's 32 police chiefs with SA and SS officers. He also appointed Rudolf Diels as chief of the political police, the Gestapo.
After the Reichstag Fire on 27th February, 1933, Goering launched a wave of violence against members of the German Communist Party and other left-wing opponents of the regime. He also joined with Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutz Staffeinel, in setting up Germany's concentration camps.
Goering agreed that the Sturm Abteilung (SA) posed a threat to the German Army and in June 1934 arranged the Night of the Long Knives. He also purged Werner von Blomberg and Werner von Fitsch from the high command of the army.
In February, 1938, Goering became head of Germany's armed forces,. The following year he officially became Hitler's deputy and legal heir. He obtained a vast income from his various official posts and converted an old Berlin palace into his official residence. Goering also made money from his own newspaper, Essener National Zeitung and from stock in the aircraft industry.
After the outbreak of the Second World War Goering was placed in charge of the Luftwaffe and took credit for the quick defeat of France, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg in the summer of 1940. However, he failed to stop the British evacuation of Dunkirk.
Goering organized the German war effort during the Battle of Britain and made the crucial mistake of changing his tactics and launching the Blitz in September, 1940. He was criticized for the failings of the Luftwaffe during Operation Barbarossa.
When the Red Army made advances into Germany, Goering moved his headquarters to Berchesgaden. After the suicide of Adolf Hitler Goering surrendered to the US Army in Austria on 8th May, 1945.
Hermann Goering was found guilty at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial but avoided execution by swallowing potassium cyanide on 15th October, 1946.