No 1 with a bul­let, the rise of Hitler’ s hit man

Go­er­ing came across as a lovely bloke, if you set aside all the bru­tal as­pects’ ‘

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - James Jef­frey

Nazi No 1: Her­mann Go­er­ing 8.30pm, SBS

IN the af­ter­math of the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, a pair of stormtroop­ers from the fledg­ling Nazi Party car­ried one of their badly wounded lead­ers through the streets of Mu­nich, look­ing for help.

Sen­si­bly, no doc­tor was will­ing to help any­one as­so­ci­ated with Adolf Hitler. In the end, the job fell to a Jewish cou­ple, who would have had am­ple op­por­tu­nity in the fol­low­ing years to ponder the irony of hav­ing saved the life of Her­mann Go­er­ing.

As Hitler’ s sec­ond- in- com­mand, the mor­phine- ad­dicted Go­er­ing would go on to spout his anti- Semitic poi­son but made sure his saviours from 1923 were spared from the death squads.

Ear­lier in life he’ d been ex­pelled from his elite, anti- Semitic private school for de­fend­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of his adored Jewish god­fa­ther.

Go­er­ing was one of Hitler’ s keen­est dis­ci­ples, yet tried to keep Ger­many out of the war on which his mas­ter was so hell- bent. To say he was a man of con­tra­dic­tions would be an un­der­stated be­gin­ning.

A World War I fighter ace used by Hitler to give the Nazi Party a ve­neer of le­git­i­macy, Go­er­ing built up the Luft­waffe in se­cret, cre­ated the Gestapo, es­tab­lished the Third Re­ich’ s spy agency, en­gi­neered the Night of the Long Knives against the stormtrooper lead­er­ship and was ad­mired by Hitler and his pro­pa­ganda chief Joseph Goebbels for his

icy heart’’ and his ruth­less­ness ‘‘ against en­e­mies. Go­er­ing for his part de­clared: I

‘‘ have no con­science. My con­science is Adolf Hitler.’’

Yet, as Jo­erg Muell­ner’s mes­meris­ing three- part se­ries re­minds us with newly dis­cov­ered reels of Go­er­ing’ s

Re­ichs­marschall home movies, the still man­aged to come across as a larger- than- life bon vi­vant ( al­though, given the cold- blooded as­ceti­cism and freak­ish­ness of his Nazi co­horts, this may not have been such an enor­mous feat).

As he swanned about in ever more out­landish cos­tumes and pre­pos­ter­ous uni­forms, amass­ing a vast art col­lec­tion at his lav­ish home, Go­er­ing would dis­miss crit­i­cism of his ex­trav­a­gance: Af­ter all, I’ m a re­nais­sance

‘‘ man; I love splen­dour.’’

His ego was as in­flated as his belly ( one gag do­ing the rounds among the Third Re­ich’s sub­jects was that Go­er­ing would wear an ad­mi­ral’ s uni­form just to take a bath). Af­ter Hitler’ s sui­cide, when Go­er­ing be­came the Nazi No 1 of the ti­tle, and even at the Nurem­berg tri­als, he fan­cied he would come to be ven­er­ated in Ger­many.

As one of his bi­og­ra­phers as­serts here with the straight­est of faces, Go­er­ing came across as a lovely bloke, if you set aside all the bru­tal

‘‘ as­pects of his per­son­al­ity’’ .

Don ’t men­tion cul­ture:

Junkie and top Nazi Her­mann Go­er­ing

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