Hermann Wilhelm Goering (sometimes Göring) is remembered as a member of the German High Command and second only to Adolf Hitler in the hierarchy of the Third Reich. Goering was a WWI air ace and ended the war in command of the legendary Richthofen Fighter Squadron. Goering was credited with 22 victories over allied craft and won the Iron Cross (First Class).

His first association with Hitler came when he was recruited to command the SA Brownshirts, but this didn't last long. Goering was severely wounded in the infamous Beer-Hall putsch, and fled Germany. During his recovery, Goering became addicted to morphine.

Goering returned to Germany in 1927 and became part of Hitler's rise to power. He was key in the organizing of the Gestapo, and is suspected of involvement in the Reichstag fire, which he followed up quickly with a series of emergency declarations that effectively ended civil rights in Hitler's Germany. He was a key figure in organising Kristallnacht.

Goering was made Reich Marshal in 1940, and promised to "drive the RAF from the skies." His failure to destroy the RAF air bases and defenses during the Battle of Britain led to defeat of the German air forces and the collapse of Operation Sea Lion.

Goering sank into drug abuse and paranoia, and lost his leadership posts in 1943. At the end of the war Goering was captured by the American Seventh Army, the only high-ranking Nazi official to be captured. He went on trial at Nuremberg in 1946. Goering defended himself passionately at the trial, refusing to grovel or apologize. He was found guilty of conspiracy to wage war, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to the noose. Goering committed suicide by poison before the sentence could be carried out.

Goering appears as a major character in Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series.

Compiled from several sources including http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Holocaust/goering.html

Hermann Goering, Luftwaffe leader and one of Hitler's right hand men, was largely responsible for Nazi Germany's defeat in the Second World War. After the German rout of French and British forces during the bliztkreig of France, German panzers were ready to roll over British forces left in the port of Dunkirk. Goering promised Hitler that his aircraft would be able to bomb them into the ground. Hitler took the advice of his friend, but despite the aerial barrage the British scrounged together a fleet of private and military ships that evacuated thousands of soldiers to the British mainland. If these soldiers had been killed or captured, the British would have had virtually no army and would probably have been forced into an armistice or face invasion.

During the Battle of Britain Goering's Luftwaffe was starting to gain the upperhand when Goering stepped in and lost it. Originally the Luftwaffe was bombing British coastal radar stations and airfields. The bombing of airfields was taking a terrible toll on the pilots and aircraft. At a critical point of the battle Goering abruptly switched tactics and began bombing British cities. While it did take an emotional toll on the British people, it allowed time for British industry to manufacture new aircraft, and for the RAF to train new pilots. Eventually this led to a second chance lost to force the British into an armistace.

His third mistake took place on the Eastern Front with the fight against the Soviet Union. The Battle of Stalingrad was raging, and it was becoming clear that the Germans were losing. Goering promised Hitler during the winter that he could supply General Paulus's army. This was in part responsible for Hitler's decision to prevent a strategic withdrawl which would have saved the army and probably allowed a victory against the Soviet Union. Instead, Paulus's army was encircled and forced to surrender when Goering's promise was not met (once again) and General Zhukov began the long drive to Berlin and the final defeat of Nazi Germany due to the collapse of a major German presence on the Eastern Front.

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