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Blood Brothers

Leah Gebber

At the Nuremberg Trials, he told of how he saved elderly Jewish women, set up syndicates to smuggle money across borders, and aided Jewish refugees. Yet he died an ignoble pariah, linked forever to his brother’s infamy. What was the truth about Albert Goering, the anti-Nazi brother of Hitler’s second-in-command — archmurderer Hermann Goering? A young Australian economics student was driven to find out, spending years traversing the globe on a journey to uncover the mystery surrounding this unlikely hero.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

man with penAugsburg Transit Jail, 1945. He sits in his cell, preparing his defense. The newly victorious Allies have made their first haul of Nazi war criminals. His brother, perhaps the prize catch of the bunch, is incarcerated a few cells down. That brother is Hermann Goering: Reichsmarschall, commander of the Luftwaffe, instigator of the first concentration camps. Second in command to Hitler, Hermann Goering established one of the deadliest reigns of terror history has ever witnessed.

Albert, Hermann’s younger brother, is accused of complicity with the Nazi regime by association. Albert painstakingly rewrites a list of 34 prominent people he has saved from the Nazi war machine. With German exactitude, he places the names in alphabetical order, adding addresses, professions, and assistance given. He gives the list a title: Menschen, denen ich bei eigener Gefahr (dreimal Gestapo-Haftbehele!) Leben oder Existenz rettete—People whose lives I saved at my own peril (three Gestapo arrest warrants). He hands his defense to his jailors.

At his interrogation, he tells Major Paul Kubala of the US Seventh Army that he eschewed the royal lifestyle of the Nazi elite and, with the Nazi takeover in 1933, went into self-imposed exile inAustria. He tells of how he saved old Jewish women in the street, set up syndicates to smuggle money across borders, aided Jewish refugees. His story, however, is not believed, and Kubala writes in his interrogation report on September 19, 1945: “The results of the interrogation ... constitutes as clever a piece of rationalization and white wash... as ever seen. Albert Goering’s lack of subtlety is matched only by the bulk of his obese brother.”

No one even bothered to look at the list of the 34.

Two years later, in 1947, Hermann Goering was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials, but cheated the hangman’s noose the night before his scheduled execution with a smuggled cyanide pill. Albert was eventually released from prison, but the infamous family name haunted him until he died, broken and penniless, in 1966.


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