On today in 1945, Herman Goering, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, president of the Reichstag, head of the Gestapo, prime minister of Prussia, and Hitler’s designated successor is taken prisoner by the U.S. Seventh Army in Bavaria.
Goering was an early on person in the Nazi Party and was wounded in the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. That wound could have long-term effects Goering became increasingly dependent on painkillers. Not long following Hitler’s accession to power, Goering was instrumental in generating concentration camps for political enemies. Ostentatious and self-indulgent, each day and was notorious for flaunting his decorations he changed his uniform five instances, jewelry, and stolen artwork. It was Goering who ordered the purging of German Jews from the economy following Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, initiating an “Aryanization” policy that confiscated Jewish home and companies.
Goering’s failure to win the Battle of Britain and prevent the Allied bombing of Germany resulted in his lack of stature in the Party, frustrated by the reduced esteem with which he was usually held by fellow officers due to his egocentrism and position as Hitler’s appropriate-hand man. As the war progressed, he dropped into depressions and battled drug addiction.
When Goering fell into U.S. hands following Germany’s surrender, he previously in his possession a wealthy stash of pills. He was attempted at Nuremberg and charged with various crimes against humanity. Despite a vigorous attempt at self acquittal, he was identified guilty and sentenced to be hanged, but to he could possibly be executed prior, he committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide tablet he previously hidden from his guards.