Will Yad Vashem Honor A Goering?

The strange case of Hermann Goering’s ‘righteous’ brother.

04/04/13
Associate Editor
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In the Third Reich, other than Hitler himself, was there a more infamous name than Goering — Germany’s second in command, the bombastic Reichsmarshall, commander of the Luftwaffe, and arch anti-Semite?

And yet, on the eve of Yom HaShoah, Yad Vashem is considering whether Hermann Goering’s younger brother Albert is among the Chasidei Umot Ha’Olam, the “Righteous Among The Nations,” Israel’s highest honor for non-Jews who during the Holocaust risked their lives to save Jews. Hermann knew what Albert was doing, but Hermann loved his brother more than Hermann hated Jews, and he hated Jews very much.

Stories are told that Albert saved on the streets of Vienna and from out of Dachau and Terezin. He stopped Nazis who were beating Jews, but of course he would, said cynics, Albert himself was a Jew. Rumors had it that Albert was really fathered by his mother’s Jewish lover, their family doctor, Dr. Hermann von Epenstein. Hermann was thoroughly devoted to Albert despite the rumor — or because of it, to deny a difficult truth.

A spokesperson for Yad Vashem told us by e-mail that a file on Albert Goering has been opened at Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations Department, a preliminary step before that department’s presentation to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous. The commission, made up of Holocaust researchers, historians and survivors, is chaired by a retired Supreme Court justice. “There has to be firsthand evidence by survivors or unequivocal archival documentation,” said the spokesperson, “describing the circumstances of the rescue and showing the nominated person took great risks to save Jews.”

But did Albert really take the risks of, say, Oskar Schindler or Raoul Wallenberg, others honored as “righteous,” if Albert knew Hermann would always save him? Hermann called off the Gestapo at least four times.

The Goering boys were raised in an aristocratic home — meals were announced with a hunting horn, staff dressed in Teutonic regalia — but the boys could not have been more opposite. Hermann grew up loud, gaudy, cruel, a man of prodigious appetites, a morphine addict and charter member of the Nazi party, a thief who helped himself to the spoils of war perhaps more than anyone else in Hitler’s inner circle. Albert was thin and romantic; women (he was married four times) and alcohol were his private indulgences. He was melancholy and non-political, refusing to join the Nazi party, working in the business sector throughout the Hitler years.

As much as the Goering name protected him during the war, the Goering name destroyed him after the war. The Americans imprisoned him and put him on trial for war crimes. (He had been an executive with a factory that manufactured weapons.) Exonerated, he died poor in 1966. In the postwar years no one wanted to do business with a man whose very introduction stopped conversations: “Goering? As in …”

He could have changed his name, like so many did after the war, but he never did. Hermann had always been loyal to him, and if their name was now his cross to bear, he stayed loyal to the family name.

After the war, in the Nuremberg prison, reported Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, the interpreter for the American investigators didn’t quite believe Albert, for wasn’t his name Goering? Was there a more slithering liar than Hermann Goering? “Albert told a fascinating story,” reported the interpreter, “but one I had trouble believing.”

The stories keep accumulating. Der Spiegel tells, “In downtown Vienna under the Nazis, two members of the SA had decided to humiliate an old woman. A crowd gathered and jeered as the storm troopers hung a sign bearing the words ‘I’m a dirty Jew’ around the woman’s neck. Suddenly, a tall man with a high forehead and thick mustache pushed his way angrily through the mob and freed the woman. ‘There was a scuffle with two storm troopers, I hit them and was arrested immediately,’ the man later said in a matter-of-fact statement. Despite this open act of rebellion, the man was released immediately. He only had to say his name: Albert Goering, brother of Hermann Goering… Hitler’s closest confidant.”

The BBC did a feature on Albert in 1998, and in 2009, an Australian, William Hastings Burke, wrote “Thirty-Four,” a biography of Albert, who made a list in prison of 34 people he claimed to have saved, though the number was in the hundreds, according to others. He saved Oskar Pilzer, a Jewish president of an Austrian film production company, who was arrested in 1938. Albert Goering, using his family name, got him released.

Burke writes that a woman, Alexandra Otzop, said, “My husband and his son from his first marriage were persecuted in the fall of 1939. Mr. Goering managed to get them deported, instead of being sent to a concentration camp.”

It was said that Albert got down on his hands and knees to scrub a street in Vienna when Jewish women were forced to do so. The Nazis at the scene grabbed him, only to learn his name: Goering. As in…

According to Der Spiegel, “Hermann knew about Albert’s activities, yet did nothing to stop him. Albert later testified that his brother had told him it was his ‘own business’ if he wanted to protect Jews, so long as he didn’t get Hermann in ‘endless trouble.’ Albert, meanwhile, had a nearly schizophrenic relationship with Hermann, trying to keep the private person and the politician separate. ‘As brothers, we were close,’ he said.”

Over the years, other stories came to light: It was said he gave money to refugees and to the anti-Nazi resistance. The Spiegel tells how he saved prisoners from the Terezin concentration camp in 1944. “He said, ‘I’m Albert Goering from Skoda [a munitions factor in Czechoslovakia, where the camp was]. I need workers,’” according to one report. “He filled the truck with workers, and the concentration camp director agreed to it, because he was Albert Goering. Then he drove into the woods and released them.”

Der Spiegel adds, “A number of notes turn up in German files that prove these stories were not simply made up. The Gestapo’s Prague bureau, for example, complained that Goering’s office at the Skoda factory was ‘a veritable nerve center for ‘poor’ Czechs.’ The general of the Prague police… considered Albert Goering ‘at the very least, a defeatist of the worst sort’ and asked permission to arrest him in 1944 on ‘profound grounds for suspicion.’” Nothing came of it.

The Goering brothers, writes Burke, met for the last time in a military prison. Said Hermann, “I am very sorry, Albert, that it is you who has to suffer so much for me. You will be free soon. Take care of my wife and [daughter]. Farewell.”

Will Yad Vashem take care of Albert Goering? At this point, says Yad Vashem, “We don’t have sufficient evidence in order to present the file of Albert Goering to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous.”

Jonmark50@gmail.com

Last Update:

05/20/2014 - 11:35

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Having a Jewish mother makes a person Jewish. Having a Jewish father does not make a person Jewish.
It is really pathetic that he had so much sympathy for his brother- that is his fault.
He could have done more, much more, for in such a case truly heroic actions are what really count.
What I mean by "more" ? Yes you guessed it.

The numbers are irrelevant. He is a hero.

This man deserves to be honoured.

What makes this man great and worthy of admiration is not the fact that he saved the lives of Jews, but that he saved the lives of other human beings without caring what their nationality or faith was. The world should honor him and others like him, not just one country.

Ask yourself this.
How difficult is it, downtown Vienna seccond world war surrounded by Nazi's.
This man got on his knees and helped Jewish woman to clean the streets.
There is a famous Jew welknown in the Christian world who did something like this.
He went on his knees, and washed feet.
Not manny man wil have the balls to repeat Albert

What happened with that Jewish saying, "He who saves one life, saves the world entire." ??? This man, Albert, could have been taken out by a trigger happy Nazi thug at any given time, signing letters with his brother's name, scrubbing side walks, allowing prisoners to escape from concentration camps. Half German, full German, nefarious and notorious last name, fuggedaboudit! He saved many lives. Are you forgetting your own sacred words? The world needs to honor more men like these to elicit the fact that sometimes, every now and again, the determination and selflessness of one, can save countless lives and allow their descendants to inhabit the earth. For the chances and sacrifices not to mention daring bold maneuvers under the police states' noses, it can only be concluded that this man is without question... a hero. For the world's sake if not only for inspiration, plant a tree for this man on your Avenue of the Righteous. There are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers , cousins, every family denomination you can name because of Albert Goering. You always say' "WE shall never forget." Well, don't start now.

i have just watched a film on albert goering and after watching it i do think the jewish nation should award him the highest honour they can and just to say i am not jewish but british but i have talked to my children and my grandchildren[13 and7] what went on in the war the best i can and if the jewish people grant albert this award it would show other parts of the world not to forget but also to remember the brave men and women who lived and died so a jewish state could be born and live in freedem

I have just this evening viewed a television documentary investigating the truth of Albert Goering's anti-Nazi activities, hence my arrival at your site. I was actually googling to find out what evidence the Nuremberg investigators had, or thought they had, against this unusual man. So far I haven't found anything that would warrant their holding him in custody for 2 years. I guess the name alone would have been enough to indict him by association.

It's easy to believe that he may have been half-Jewish, as he had an almost compulsive drive to rescue and assist Jews wherever he found them being hurt or tormented. Perhaps he had an innate sympatico with their suffering that was genetically endowed. But there again, very hard to prove his paternal lineage and that he was only a half-brother to the hated Hermann.

This is a tough one for the Yad Vashem to decide. Evidence grows thinner as each year passes, and aged survivors of Nazi tyranny pass away. On the strength of what I saw in the investigative documentary I'd personally award Albert a place in the Righteous Among The Nations.

I believe he deserves this high honour as a man who risked his own life over and over to save others. He could so easily have been clubbed to death or shot on the spot, and he must have known the enormous risks he was taking. How many amongst us could have done the same?

Don't let the family name stop him from getting his award . I 'm sure he'd have recognition by now only for his family name. To even risk defying the Nazi party was bordering on suicide and he could easily have been shot on the spot before the police could determine who his brother was.

I feel, having looked at the evidence, that he should be honoured. He used his family name to save Jews and gentiles from the National Socialists. His name, allied to his pen, were his weapons in his fight to stop the tyranny of Hitler and his 'golden pheasants.'
Yad Vashem should honour him as should Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

It seems to me that this story about Albert G. cannot be true! It just isnt possible that anything like this could be a fact without being made public previously. Also according to the Hitler standards, even as a brother or Herman G. - he probably would not have been able to live freely and without being censored or hindered when acting to protect jews (considered officially as 'enemies of the state') . Thus I just cant believe this!

Israel must be proud to have hundreds of valiant men like Albert in their mist - they brave IDF thugs every week marching in the peaceful protests throughout West Bank against cruelty, inhumanity and humiliation that is occupation.

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