The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/12/6

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Stahmer, the Tribunal thinks that you
must re-examine the witness now and that if you wish to make
an application hereafter to recall the witness you will have
to show very strong grounds for doing it. You may make
written application to recall the witness at a later stage,
but I would point out to you that the cross-examination of
this witness has not been relevant solely to the case of the
defendant Goering. He is a member of the General Staff and,
as was pointed out to him at the opening of one part of the
cross-examination, he is one of the accused persons as such,
and the evidence, therefore, may be relevant to Goering, or
it may have been relevant to the General Staff. Is that
clear to you?

DR. STAHMER: Yes, I quite follow; but I can naturally put
questions to a witness only if I am in possession of the
facts. I am not in such a position at this time because
documents were referred to which are completely unknown to
me, and, as far as I know, the prosecution has the intention
of making this material available to us.

THE PRESIDENT: Documents were put to the witness and, as I
say, the Tribunal will consider any application which you
make hereafter to have this witness recalled, but you may
continue now with your re-examination and finish with the

DR. STAHMER: At present I have no further questions to
address to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Then the witness can retire.

DR. LATERNSER (counsel for the General Staff and the
O.K.W.): Mr. President, this morning I have noted that the
witness has twice been called a defendant, once by a member
of the prosecution and now in your statement. First of all,
he appeared here as a witness, and further, it is not
individual members of the group, but rather the group itself
that is indicted, so that it cannot be correct to call the
witness a defendant.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Laternser, possibly it was inaccurate to
call him an accused person, but he is a member of the
General Staff. I rather think that Sir David Maxwell Fyfe
made it clear that he meant only a member of the group which
the Indictment asked the Tribunal to declare criminal. That
is all that is meant, and I was only pointing out to Dr.
Stahmer that the questions which have been asked were not
necessarily relevant to the case of the defendant Goering,
but might be relevant and relevant only to the case of the
General Staff.

                                                   [Page 63]

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, I fully understand the
position of the individual Generals. I just wished to
prevent the Generals being called defendants now, which they
are not. For that I wanted to have evidence.


DR. STAHMER: If the High Tribunal agree, I wish to call the
former Reichsmarschall, defendant Hermann Goering, to the
witness stand.

(HERMANN WILHELM GORING, a defendant, took the stand and
testified as follows:)

THE PRESIDENT: Will you give your name please?

A. Hermann Goering.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak
the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.


Q. When were you born and where?

A. I was born on 12th January, 1893, in Rosenheim, Bavaria.

Q. Give the Tribunal a short account of your life up to the
outbreak of the First World War, but briefly, please.

A. Normal education, first tutored at home; then cadet
corps, then an active officer. A few points which are
significant with relation to my later development: the
position of my father as first Governor of Southwest Africa,
his connections at that time, especially with two British
statesmen, Cecil Rhodes and the elder Chamberlain; then the
strong attachment of my father to Bismarck; the experiences
of my youth, half of which was spent in Austria, to which I
already felt in myself a close attachment, as to a kindred
people. At the beginning of the First World War I was a
lieutenant in an infantry regiment.

Q. What was your rank in the First World War?

A. As I just mentioned, at first as a lieutenant in an
infantry regiment in the so-called border battles. From
October, 1914, on I joined the Air Force as an observer. In
June, 1915, I became a pilot, at first with a reconnaissance
plane, then for a short time with a bomber, and in the
autumn of 1915 I became a fighter pilot. I was seriously
wounded in aerial combat. After recovery I became the leader
of a fighter squadron, and after Richthofen was killed I
became the commander of the then well-known "Richthofen

Q. What war decorations did you receive?

A. First the Iron Cross Second Class, then Iron Cross First
Class, then the Zaehring Lion with Swords, the Karl
Friedrich Order, the Hohenzollern with Swords Third Class,
and finally the Order Pour Le Merite, which was the highest
decoration possible.

Q. Tell the Tribunal when and under what circumstances you
came to know Hitler.

A. I should like to mention one basic fact in advance. After
the collapse in the First World War I had to demobilise my
squadron. I refused the demand to enter the Reichswehr
because from the very beginning I was opposed in every way
to the republic which had come to power through the
revolution; I could not bring this into harmony with my
convictions. Shortly afterwards I went abroad to find a
position there. But after a few years I was drawn back to my
own country. First, I spent quite a long time at a hunting
lodge in the mountains and studied there. I wanted to
participate in some way in the fate of my country. I could
not and did not want to do that as an officer for the
reasons mentioned above. I had first of all to build the
necessary foundation and attended the university in Munich
in order to study history and political science. I settled
down in the neighbourhood of Munich and bought a house

                                                   [Page 64]

there for my wife. There one day, on a Sunday in November or
October of 1922, the demand for the extradition of our
military leaders was again placed in the foreground on the
occasion of a protest demonstration in Munich. I went to
this protest demonstration as a spectator, without having
any connection with it.

Various speakers from Parties and organisations spoke there.
At the end Hitler, too, was called for. I had heard his name
briefly mentioned once before and wanted to hear what he had
to say. He declined to speak, and it was pure coincidence
that I stood nearby and heard the reasons for his refusal.
He did not want to disturb the unanimity of the
demonstration: he did not see himself in a position to
speak, as he put it, to these "tame, bourgeois pirates." He
considered it senseless to launch protests with no weight
behind them. This made a deep impression on me; I was of the
same opinion.

I inquired and found that on the following Monday evening I
could hear Hitler speak, as he held a meeting every Monday
evening. I went there, and there Hitler spoke about that
demonstration, about Versailles, the Treaty of Versailles,
and the repudiation of that treaty.

He said that such empty protests as that of Sunday had no
sense at all - one would just pass on from it to the agenda
- that a protest is successful only if backed by power to
give it weight. As long as Germany had not become strong,
this kind of thing was to no purpose.

This conviction was spoken word for word as if from my own
soul. On one of the following days I went to the business
office of the N.S.D.A.P. At that time I knew nothing of the
programme of the N.S.D.A.P., and nothing beyond the fact
that it was a small Party. I had also investigated other
Parties. When the National Assembly was elected, with a
completely unpolitical attitude I had voted democratic.
Then, when I saw whom I had elected, I at first took no more
notice of politics. Now, finally, I saw a man here who had a
clear and definite aim. I just wanted to speak to him at
first to see if I could assist him in any way. He received
me at once and after I had introduced myself he said it was
an extraordinary turn of fate that we should meet. We spoke
at once about the things which were close to our hearts -
the defeat of our Fatherland, and that one could not be
content with that.

The chief theme of this conversation was again Versailles. I
told him that I myself to the fullest extent, and all I was
and possessed, were completely at his disposal for this, in
my opinion, most essential and decisive matter: the fight
against the Treaty of Versailles.

The second point which impressed me very strongly at the
time and which I felt very deeply and really considered to
be a basic condition, was the fact that he explained to me
at length that it was not possible under the conditions then
prevailing in co-operation with the only elements which at
that time considered themselves national - whether it be the
political so-called Nationalist Parties or those which still
called themselves National, or the then existing clubs,
fighter organisations, the Free Corps, etc. - with these
people alone it was not possible to bring about a
reorganisation in the direction of a strong national win on
the part of the German people, as long as the masses of
German labour opposed this idea. One could only raise
Germany up again if one could enlist the masses of German
labour; this could be achieved only if the will to become
free from the unbearable shackles of the Treaty of
Versailles were really felt by the broad masses of the
people, and that would be possible only through the union of
the national idea and a social goal.

He gave me on that occasion for the first time a very
wonderful and profound explanation of the concept of
National Socialism; the uniting of the concept of
Nationalism on the one hand and Socialism on the other,
which should prove itself the absolute bearer of Socialism
as well as Nationalism, the Nationalism, if I may say so, of
the bourgeois world and the Socialism of the

                                                   [Page 65]

Marxist world; we had to clarify these concepts and, along
with this union of the two ideas, also had to create a new
vehicle for these new thoughts.

Then we proceeded to the practical side, in regard to which
he asked me above all to support him in one point. Within
the Party, as small as it was, he had made a special
selection of those people who were convinced followers, and
who were ready at any moment to devote themselves completely
and unreservedly to the dissemination of our idea. He said
that I knew myself how strong Marxism and Communism were
everywhere at the time, and that actually he had been able
to make his points at the meeting only after he had opposed
one physical force disturbing the meeting with another
physical force protecting the meeting; for this purpose he
had created the S.S. The leaders at that time were too young
and he had long been on the lookout for a leader who had
distinguished himself in some way in the last war, which lay
just a few years back, so that he would have the necessary
authority. He had always tried to find a Pour le Merite
aviator or a Pour le Merite submarine man for this purpose,
and now it seemed to him a stroke of luck that I in
particular, the last commander of the "Richthofen Squadron,"
should place myself at his disposal.

I told him that it would not be so very pleasant for me to
have a leading office from the very beginning, since it
might appear that I had come merely because of this
position. We finally reached an agreement that for one to
two months I was to remain officially in the background, and
take over the leadership only after that, but actually I was
to make my influence felt immediately. I agreed to this, and
in that way I joined forces with Adolf Hitler.

Q. And when was that?

A. The end of October or the beginning of November, 1922.

Q. The end of October?

A. Either the end of October or the beginning of November,

Q. And then you officially entered the Party?

A. Yes, that was the same date. Just a few days after that I
signed up.

Q. What duties did Hitler then give you, that is, up to
November, 1923?

A. The duties appropriate to my position, which at that time
had the title "Commander of the S.A." At first it was
important to weld the S.A. into a stable organisation, to
discipline it, and to make of it a completely reliable unit
which had to carry out the orders which I or Adolf Hitler
should give it. Up to that point it had been just a club
which had been very active but which still lacked the
necessary construction and discipline.

I strove from the beginning to bring into the S.A. those
members of the Party who were young and idealistic enough to
devote their free time and their entire energies to it. At
that time it was very difficult for these brave men, for we
were very few and our opponents very many. Even in those
days these men were exposed to very considerable annoyances
and had to suffer all sorts of things.

In the second place I tried to find recruits among
labourers, for I knew that it was from labour, in
particular, I wanted to admit many members into the S.A.

At the same time we had, naturally, to see to it that the
meetings of the Party, which were limited at that time to
Munich, Upper Bavaria and Franconia on the whole, could
actually be carried through in a satisfactory manner and
that every disturbance was prevented. In most cases we
succeeded, but sometimes we had a strong concentration of
our opponents present. This or that side still had weapons
from the war and sometimes critical situations arose, and
there were occasions when we had to send the S.A. as
reinforcements to other localities.

In the course of the year 1923 the contrast between Bavaria
and the Reich became even stronger. One saw that the
Bavarian Government at that time wanted to travel a
different road from that of the Reich Government. The Reich
Government was influenced strongly by Marxism, but the
Bavarian Government was free from that, was bourgeois.

                                                   [Page 66]

Then suddenly the Bavarian Government was completely
transformed when a Governor-General - I believe he was
called that - or something of the sort was appointed in
Bavaria - it was von Kahr - to whom the Bavarian Government
was subordinate and to whom the Bavarian Government
delegated all authority. Shortly thereafter the Reichswehr
conflict developed. The 7th Reichswehr Division, which was
stationed in Bavaria, was released from its oath to the
Reich, which it had sworn to the Reich Constitution, and
took the oath to the new Bavarian Government - I do not
remember the name now - that is, to von Kahr. This led to
the conflict of General von Seeckt and Lossow. The same
thing happened to the Bavarian police.

The Bavarian Government at the same time curried favour with
the so-called national associations which were in part
organised along military or pseudo-military lines and also
possessed weapons. The whole thing was directed against
Berlin and, as we expressed it, against the "November
Republic." We could agree up to that point.

On the Sunday before 9th November there was a large parade
in Munich. The whole Bavarian Government was there. The
Reichswehr, the police and the Fatherland associations, and
we, too, marched past. Suddenly, on that occasion, we saw
that the figure in the foreground was no longer Herr von
Kahr but the Bavarian Crown Prince Rupprecht. We were very
much taken aback by that. The suspicion arose among us that
Bavaria wished to follow a course which would, if possible,
lead to a considerable disintegration, whereby Bavaria could
secede from the Reich structure. But nothing was further
from our intentions than to permit that. We wanted a strong
Reich, a unified Reich; to be sure, we wanted to have it
cleansed of the Parties and authorities which were now
ruling it.

We had become distrustful of the so-called "March on
Berlin." When this became a certainty and Herr von Kahr had
called the well-known meeting in the Buerger-braeukeller, it
was high time to frustrate such plans and to guide the whole
undertaking in the direction of the "Greater Germany"
concept. Thus the events of 9th November, 1923, materialised
in very short time. But as far as I personally, am
concerned, I was - and I never made a secret of this - from
the beginning ready to take part in every revolution against
the so-called "November Republic," no matter where and with
whom it originated, unless it originated with the Left, and
for these tasks I had always offered my services.

Then I was severely wounded at the Feldherrnhalle - the
events are well known - and with this incident I close the
first chapter.

Q. When, after that time, did you join forces with Hitler

A. At first I was in a hospital in Austria. There was a
trial before the Bavarian People's Court regarding the 9th
of November.

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