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’ ‘
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