The Last Battle
Part II: The Swan Song of Hermann Göring

Hermann Göring on the stand.

4,304 words

Part I [1]

During the trials, almost all of the prisoners remained true to their Führer. The Leader had always repaid this extraordinary devotion in kind, valuing loyalty and continuity above all else, with remarkably little turnover in his government. A couple of the defendants, however, turned on the Third Reich, such as Albert Speer, a man who was never really committed to National Socialism and whose agenda Irving describes as vorwärts über Leichen — or, “forward, over the fallen.” Hans Frank also “found religion,” and expressed regret for his role in the Reich, though he spared no criticism of the Allies as well.

Nevertheless, the rest of the defendants remained steadfast in their faith, such as Alfred Jodl, who declared: “All that matters to me now is to prove that my own conscience is clear. That I did all I could for victory is something they can accuse me of as much as they like.” Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of the Armed Forces High Command, told his son that “one man must have the will and must then allow nothing to distract him. One must have faith, otherwise one might as well give up there and then. Hitler had considered himself the only man capable of generating the faith that was an essential requisite for victory.” In 1944, Hermann Göring had said to his generals that “to stay alive at any price has always been the philosophy of the coward.” Göring practiced precisely what he preached, telling his defense counsel that “my philosophy is that if the time has come, the time has come. Accept responsibility and go down with guns firing and colors flying! It is the defense of Germany that is at stake in this trial — not just the handful of us defendants who are for the high jump [into the noose] anyway.”

Reichsmarschall Göring was by far the most senior German leader in Allied hands, and as such was Jackson’s golden goose. He and Streicher were kept isolated at lunchtime, both from one another and from the other defendants. Göring knew that “the victors will always be the judges and the vanquished the defendants.” To the mention of “aggressive wars of imperial conquest,” Göring exclaimed, “Don’t make me laugh! America, England, and Russia have all done the same thing to promote their own national aspirations, but when Germany does it becomes a crime — because we lost.” The sheer hypocrisy of the Allies was of course not lost on him, as he asked: “Were not the Russians the real experts in mass murder?” Similarly, when Jackson asked Erhard Milch about his attitude toward civilian air raids, or terror-bombing, Milch replied, “I can think of nothing crueler and more objectionable than such air raids; and anybody who still has any doubts has only to take a look at Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, the Ruhr cities, and particularly Dresden, to see what I mean.”

Göring’s guiding maxim was, “Rather die like a lion, than frisk like a rabbit!” When Jackson cross-examined him, Göring flustered and humiliated the Justice, something which bothered Jackson for the rest of his days. He was all too happy to admit Jackson’s charges, for he was proud to have destroyed the Weimar Republic. Jackson ballyhooed about the Führerprinzip, which Jackson referred to as “the Leadership Principle,” and the Nazi suppression of other political parties, stating that the Nazis did not believe in ruling by consent of the governed. To this patently false implication that the Party was some sort of unpopular dictatorship that ruled by fiat, Göring took the opportunity to state that

I consider the Führerprinzip necessary because the system which previously existed, and which we called parliamentary or democratic, had brought Germany to the verge of ruin. I might. . . remind you that your own President Roosevelt. . . declared, “Certain peoples in Europe have forsaken democracy, not because they did not wish for democracy as such, but because democracy had brought forth men who were too weak to give their people work and bread, and to satisfy them. For this reason, the peoples have abandoned this system and the men belonging to it.” . . . This system had brought ruin by mismanagement and. . . only. . . a strong, clearly defined leadership hierarchy could restore order again. But, let it be understood, not against the will of the people. . . only when the people, having in the course of time, and by means of a series of elections. . . had expressed their wish to entrust their destiny to the National Socialist leadership.

As long as my enemy threatens me and demands absolutely unconditional surrender, I fight to my last breath, because there is nothing left for me except perhaps a chance that in some way fate may change, even though it seems hopeless.

When asked whether he was still loyal to Hitler, Göring stated simply that he believed in remaining loyal during hardship. When Jackson,

desperately trying to salvage something from a 1935 document wrongly identified by his team as proof of Nazi planning for a remilitarization of the Rhineland one year before that event, pointed to the “Top Secret” classification on the paper, as though this were in itself a heinous defense, Göring scoffed insolently that he could not recall having seen the secret plans of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff openly published in the pre-war years. There was raucous laughter from all over the court. Jackson ripped off his headphones and threw them down, then petulantly appealed to the judges to call the witness to order.

This went on, and on, and on. The Reichsmarschall incensed Jackson so much that the jurist exclaimed: “Göring is permitted to become a hero of the Nazis because he dares to talk back to the United States. This wins him admiration from all the Nazis who remain in Germany, and he will influence the other defendants to do likewise. I almost felt this afternoon that it would have been wiser to have shot these men out of hand.”

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An interesting episode of Soviet intrigue occurred during the trial, when Alfred Seidl, counsel for Rudolf Hess and Hans Frank, came into possession of a photocopy of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which the Soviets denied existed. Seidl went to see Rudenko in order to verify its authenticity, but Rudenko’s secretary, after briefly vanishing into Rudenko’s office, told Seidl that he was not in, directing him instead to the office of one of Rudenko’s assistants, Nikolai Zorya. Though Zorya stonewalled, stating that it was a “pointless conversation,” and though the Tribunal did Stalin’s bidding in suppressing the document and blocking its entry into the evidentiary record, its mention in the proceedings attracted the attention of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which published the text of the document.

Many today agree that the photocopy of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact was provided to Seidl by the American military, as one of the opening shots of the Cold War; in any case, “Rudenko, rejecting the poisoned chalice which Seidl’s compromising documents must have looked like to him, had thrown his deputy, Zorya, to the wolves instead. Unlike his colleagues, who all came from the public prosecutor’s office in Moscow, Zorya was an outsider. . . He was expendable.” Rudenko obviously saw the proverbial writing on the wall; for allowing the document to leak into the trial proceedings, “the Soviet generals at Nuremberg needed no clairvoyant powers to guess how pleased Stalin was going to be about their failure to prevent this.” Lo and behold, Major-General Zorya was soon found dead in his office at the Palace of Justice, a single bullet wound to his head. Suicide, they said.

Jackson, though he later expressed doubt, felt that the Nuremberg proceedings had been quite fair, especially when placed in comparison with the United States Army “war crimes” trials at Dachau, in which even more savage torture was used to induce signatures to false confessions. Aside from the named defendants, the entire organizations of the Party, Gestapo, SS, and Sicherheitsdienst (SD), including every man belonging to them, were convicted without trial. Though the Nuremberg judges’ deliberations remain secret, Biddle’s private papers reveal the great extent to which the judges were undecided, to which they were at loggerheads over the very simplest issues, to which they wavered and vacillated up until the last moment, and to which, despite the weeks and months of hearings, they continued to nurse misconceptions for which there was no evidence at all.

Irving remarks that “their discussions reveal an almost unreal atmosphere, an unworldly detachment from the harsh realities of war and peace. . . the British judge, of all people, felt that a defendant needed punishing for having called for the bombing of a town in England.” All but three of the defendants were found guilty, with eleven men sentenced to death by hanging. Martin Bormann, Reichsleiter and Chief of the Party Chancellery, was sentenced to death in absentia, for he was missing but correctly presumed dead. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, Supreme Commander of the Kriegsmarine, was charged with “war crimes” for unrestricted submarine warfare, something which the Americans and British had engaged in, and far more ruthlessly than Germany had at that. Biddle considered it “offensive to our concept of justice to punish a man for doing exactly what one has done himself,” noting that “the Germans fought a much cleaner war at sea than we did.” Biddle wrote a dissenting opinion for Dönitz, but never filed it. His prison sentence was not meted out for this particular charge, but for other, equally spurious charges. Throughout his imprisonment, Dönitz received letters of support from Allied military officers.

Another defendant treated especially unfairly, and whose saga is fascinating in its own right, was Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Führer to Hitler. In 1941, Hess flew himself to Scotland and parachuted into the United Kingdom on a peace mission which ultimately proved fruitless. Initially, Hess appeared to be touched by madness while in British captivity, a fact kept classified by British and Soviet intelligence officials who feared that Hess would have to be repatriated were news of his incapacitation to go public. The designation of Hess as a “war criminal” was farcical, even if we do follow the assumptions that clouded the minds of the Allied Tribunal; as Irving explains:

He had personally issued a circular telegram. . . halting the outrages of the Kristallnacht. He had participated in none of the secret Hitler conferences. . . As the British knew well, Hess had tried to stop the war and to end the bombing. He had left Germany before the attack on Russia. . . and before the onset of what would in the 1970s become known as the Holocaust.

Throughout most of the Nuremberg trials, though giving up on it near the end, Hess hilariously feigned amnesia, and did so with remarkable aplomb, never “breaking character.” This amnesia act thus calls into question whether or not he had actually gone mad in his initial British captivity. In any case, Hess, like Göring, very publicly embarrassed the Nuremberg judges and all of the psychiatrists whom they had assigned to study his “condition.” He was sentenced to life in prison, where he mysteriously died of strangulation in 1987, at the age of 93. Had he not tried to make peace all those years ago, perhaps he might have escaped. There is a lesson here for us all.

Jodl wrote to his wife that if Death came knocking at his cell door,

it will find in me not a broken and rueful prey, but a proud man looking straight into its eye-sockets.” Irving notes that “nothing would persuade him that he had deserved such a fate.” In his last address before the Tribunal, Jodl stated that “I. . . regardless of what sentence you pronounce upon me, shall leave this courtroom with my head held as high as when I entered it so many months ago. . . In a war like this, in which hundreds of thousands of women and children were killed by saturation bombing and in which partisans used every — and I mean every — means to their desired end, tough methods, however questionable under international law, do not amount to crimes of morality or conscience.

Göring concluded by declaring that “the German people trusted the Führer. . . the people have fought with loyalty, self-sacrifice, and courage, and they have suffered too in this life-and-death struggle into which they were arbitrarily thrust. The German people are free from blame.” Hess, even more unrepentant, closed with:

To me was granted to work for many years of my life under the greatest son my country has brought forth in a thousand years of history. Even if I were able, I should not wish to erase this epoch from my past. . . I am happy to know that I have done my duty to my people — my duty as a German, as a National Socialist, and as a true disciple of the Führer. I regret nothing. Were I to live my life again, I should act once more as I have acted now, even though I knew that at the end a funeral pyre was already flickering for my immolation: I care not what mere mortals may do. The time will come when I shall stand before the judgment seat of the Eternal. I shall answer unto Him and I know that He will judge me innocent.

Jodl, Göring, and Wilhelm Keitel appealed to receive a soldier’s death and be executed by firing squad, but the Tribunal remained adamant that they be hung under the indignity of the gallows. Keitel wrote that “I will willingly give up my life in the expiation demanded by my sentence, if my sacrifice will speed the prosperity of the German people and serve to exonerate the German armed forces from blame. I have only one plea: to be granted a death by firing squad.” Jodl, who read Knut Hamsun’s The Wanderer in his last days, mused that “perhaps a just man has to die in order that his tomb can become the cradle of a new international law.”

Upon hearing that Berlin workers had gone on strike after the three acquittals were announced, Jodl commented bitterly that these same men had barely two years earlier voluntarily worked fourteen or sixteen hours a day in the arms factories; this just showed once more how politics and propaganda could be made the whores of any government in power. He observed, “What a majestic character any beast of prey is compared with homo sapiens.” In a letter to his wife, he wrote, “Let them do what they want to me, it is my ambition that one day you will see my name cited in Germany with awe; it is for that alone that I shall have died, not for fame or fortune, for Party or for Power. Since I have learned that not even those who were acquitted have dared venture forth into the new German ‘freedom’ without being hounded with hatred everywhere they go, I have begun to cherish death.” Some of the condemned men’s final letters to loved ones were, as with most of their other mail, never forwarded on to their intended recipient; these last testaments of the dead were instead retained or sold as collectible items.

Emmy, Göring’s wife, was allowed to visit him before his execution; she asked him, “Don’t you believe that we three shall one day be together — in freedom?” He replied, “I beg of you. Give up hope.” One of Göring’s last notes, all the more significant given what followed, read:

I find it tasteless in the extreme to stage our deaths as a show for sensation-seeking reporters. . . This grand finale is typical of the abysmal deaths plumbed by court and prosecution. Pure theatre, from start to finish! All rotten comedy! I understand perfectly well that our enemies want to get rid of us. . . out of fear or hatred. But it would serve their reputation better to do the deed in a soldierly manner. I myself shall be dying without all this sensation and publicity. . . I feel not the slightest moral or other obligation to submit to a death sentence or execution by my enemies and those of Germany. I proceed to the hereafter with joy, and regard death as a release. I shall hope for my God’s mercy! I deeply regret that I cannot help my comrades (particularly Field-Marshal Keitel and General Jodl) to escape this public death spectacle as well. The entire effort to stop us from doing harm to ourselves was. . . purely to make sure that all would be ready for the big sensation. But ohne mich [count me out]!

It is still, and indeed always will be, unclear as to how exactly he pulled it off, but only hours before his execution, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring committed suicide by hydrogen cyanide, denying the Allies their golden goose. The most likely theory, and that endorsed by Irving, holds that Göring bribed the American Lieutenant Jack Wheelis with valuable fountain pens and wristwatches to retrieve a cyanide ampoule from his personal effects, stored away under lock and key. Irving believes, very plausibly, that the German prison physician, Ludwig Pflücker, ultimately got the cyanide from Wheelis to the Reichsmarschall.

Göring left three suicide notes, one of which was addressed to the Allied Control Council on one of his last remaining official letterhead papers:

I would have let you shoot me without further ado! But it is not possible to hang the German Reichsmarschall! I cannot permit this, for Germany’s sake. Besides, I have no moral obligation to submit to the justice of my enemies. I have therefore chosen the manner of death of the great Hannibal. . . It was clear from the outset that a death sentence would be pronounced against me, as I have always regarded the trial as a purely political act by the victors, but I wanted to see this trial through for my people’s sake and I did at least expect that I should not be denied a soldier’s death. Before God, my country, and my conscience I feel myself free of the blame that an enemy tribunal has attached to me.

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Irving notes that “there is no doubt that Hermann Göring’s ‘escape’ — for that is how he at least regarded it — sent a thrill through Germany at a time when starvation stalked the ruined streets and prison camps, and the humiliation of defeat and the rigors of the Allied occupation were barely being endured.” He had stoically endured his captivity, browbeat the Tribunal on his own terms, and cheated them of the satisfaction of his execution; his performance at Nuremberg thus appeared to have been perfectly plotted, a swan song that would haunt the members of the International Military Tribunal for the rest of their days. Indeed, in the final delirious moments before his death from leukemia twenty-one years later, Colonel Burton Andrus, the American commandant of the Nuremberg prison, cried out to his son, “I have just been told that Göring has committed suicide — I must go and see to this matter.” Andrus looked around the room, as if searching for his uniform.

Death by Hanging

Joachim von Ribbentrop was the first; his last words before falling through the floor were, “God save Germany and be merciful on my soul. My last wish is for a united Germany, understanding between East and West, and peace on earth.” Wilhelm Keitel declared, “More than two million German soldiers died for their Fatherland. I now follow them and my sons who gave their all for Germany!” As Keitel dropped, Irving notes, “the heavy trapdoor swung back, smashing every bone in his face. The same thing happened to the next condemned men: the gallows had been wrongly designed.” Alfred Rosenberg, the intellectual who had served as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, remained silent. Hans Frank, who had been the Governor of Occupied Poland, had a smile on his face, and inexplicably thanked Andrus, his American jailer. Wilhelm Frick, former Interior Minister, the last Governor of Bohemia and Moravia, and the author of the Nuremberg Laws enacted in 1935, proclaimed, “Long live the eternal Germany!” Julius Streicher, colorful as ever, cried, “Heil Hitler! This is a joyous Jewish festival, but it is my Purim festival! The day will come when the Bolsheviks will hang the lot of you!” Fritz Sauckel, Gauleiter of Thüringen and General Plenipotentiary for Labor Deployment, said, “I die an innocent man. God save Germany and make her great again!” Alfred Jodl stated, “I offer greetings to my loved ones. I salute my comrades. I send greetings to my eternal Germany.” Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Reichskommissar of the Netherlands, said, “I hope that this execution is the final act in the tragedy of World War Two and that people will learn from this example, so that truth and understanding can be restored among the nations. I believe in Germany.”

Göring’s body was placed between two of the three gallows, and the other bodies alongside his. Photographs were taken; as Irving describes, “Streicher, Sauckel, Frick, Jodl, and Seyss-Inquart still had the ropes knotted round their necks. The faces of Keitel, Jodl, and Frick had been battered in. The pillow beneath Frick’s head was soaked with blood. Later the bodies were stripped naked and photographed again. . . The closed coffins would be removed to the American-controlled Dachau concentration camp and incinerated in the crematorium; the ashes were strewn into Munich’s river.”

All of Keitel’s medals won in two wars were destroyed, along with his two Iron Crosses, four wound-medals, Luftwaffe dagger, and field marshal’s baton; his two gold Party badges went to the finance director of the American zone, “to defray the costs of the trial.”

Jodl’s three Iron Crosses, wound-medal, and campaign ribbons were destroyed, as were Göring’s Blue Max and two Iron Crosses; Göring’s two spread-eagle Party diamond-studded platinum badges, after the Nazi insignia were destroyed, were forwarded to the finance directorate, as was Admiral Dönitz’s diamond-encrusted U-boat medal.

As aforementioned, there were several subsequent military trials, including nearly two hundred more at Nuremberg, several hundred Germans hanged at Landsberg fortress, and the Far Eastern International Military Tribunal, at which Imperial Japanese prisoners were given the Nuremberg treatment; the latter of these trials was decried by Justice William Douglas, who wrote that “it did not sit as a judicial tribunal. It was an instrument of power.”

Justice Robert Jackson fell far short of his lofty ambitions, but he did partially achieve his goal, with Nuremberg germinating the seed for the globalist framework of “international law.” The victory was pyrrhic, however, coming at an “incalculable” personal cost. The Justice was totally derailed from what had been a promising political career. Through his absence from the Supreme Court at Nuremberg, he had lost his chance of becoming Chief Justice of the United States, perhaps even President, and through his sponsoring of the trial he had become a figure of controversy. Irving explains that “he was linked in many eyes with the scandalous series of war crimes trials held concurrently with his own, by the military authorities.” Notwithstanding Jackson’s personal travails, Nuremberg served its larger purpose well, the purpose for which the Allies had undertaken the task in the first place.

It was no accident that the Jews who controlled the Allies chose Nuremberg for their humiliation ritual. At Nuremberg, the site of the annual Nazi Party Congress from 1933 to 1938, as well as the namesake of the Nuremberg Laws, Germany had declared victory over the Jewish Weimar Republic. At Nuremberg, the site most symbolic of the restoration of Germany and the birth of the Third Reich, the Allies waged the last battle of the Second World War. The demise of the Third Reich was officially pronounced and enshrined in “law” at the site at which the glorious 1934 Party Congress, attended by over seven hundred thousand ecstatic Germans, was captured by the talented Leni Riefenstahl [1] [4] in her Triumph des Willens, or Triumph of the Will. Speer’s Cathedral of Light shined no more, engulfed in an impenetrable darkness from which we have yet to emerge. At Nuremberg, the death of the White race was fully set into motion, the nation of Germany, once the brightest light in the struggle of the White race against International Jewry, extinguished in the Jewish filth from which it came so tantalizingly close to emerging. We would be remiss if we failed to recognize that this is one of the fates that lies in store for us as we struggle to lift ourselves from the putrescence of Weimerika. We fought for the wrong side. Had the Allied soldiers who annihilated Germany been able to see into the future, they would have marched straight from their landing craft into the ranks of their brave Aryan brethren.

Two days before his execution, Jodl wrote to his wife:

It is already late and the lights are soon going out. When our friends come round to see you on the evening after my death, that shall be my funeral parade. On a gun-carriage rests my coffin and all the German soldiers are marching with me — with those [who] have died in battle out in front and the still-living bringing up the rear.

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[1] [7] Leni Riefenstahl’s greatest work, however, is her stunningly gorgeous 1932 film, Das blaue Licht, or The Blue Light.