The Propagander ™ FAQ
How Did Goering Manage His Suicide?
Would that I might be shot! However, executing the German Reichsmarschall by hanging cannot be countenanced. I cannot permit this for Germany's sake. Besides, I have no more obligation to subject myself to punishment from my enemies. Therefore I elect to die as the great Hannibal did . . . . I knew from the beginning that a death sentence would fall on me, having viewed the trial as a purely political act of the victors, but for my people's sake I wanted to stand trial and I expected that at least I would not be denied the death of a soldier. Before God, my people and my conscience I feel free from the reprehension that my enemies put on me.October 15, 1946: Goering leaves several letters behind in his cell. This rambling tirade is addressed to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill:
... Should I believe you sufficiently naive as to consider this success anything more than a show, detrimental to the Great German Empire, a performance for the peoples and their Jewish and Bolshevist confederates which were maneuvered by you into the war, then my statement to you during the last hour of my life would also in the eyes of posterity be squandered upon an undeserving one. My pride as a German and as one of the foremost responsible German leaders forbids me to lose even a single word in a dispute of world-historical importance on the disgraceful lowliness of the methods employed by the victors as far as these proceedings concern my own person...October 15, 1946: Goering leaves several letters behind in his cell. This one is addressed to "Dear Pastor Gerecke":
Forgive me, but I had to do it in this way for political reasons. I have prayed for a long time to God and feel I am acting correctly. Would that I might be shot. Please console my wife and tell her that mine was no ordinary suicide and that she should feel certain that God will take me to his grace ... God bless you, dear Pastor.October 15, 1946: Goering leaves several letters behind in his cell. This one is addressed to Colonel Andrus:
Since my imprisonment I have always kept the poison capsule on my person. I had three capsules when I was committed to prison in Mondorf. The first one I left in my clothing, so that it would be found in the search. The second I left under the coat-stand while undressing and took it again when I dressed. I hid this in Mondorf and here in the cell so well that, in spite of the frequent and very thorough searches, it could not be found. During the trial I kept it in my high riding boots. The third capsule is still in my toilet case in the round container of skin cream (hidden in the cream). I had two opportunities to take the capsule in Mondorf, had I needed it. No one in charge of the searches was at fault, since it was almost impossible to find the capsule. It would have been purely by chance. PS: Doctor Gilbert told me that the Control Council rejected the change in the manner of execution to death by firing squad.The above items are documented and beyond dispute. These letters from Goering are reproduced as they were written, but the information contained in them--particularly, the claims Goering makes in the last letter above--is less than certain.
I see no reason ... to question the Control Council's insistence on hanging as the prime, and indeed the only, motive of Goering's suicide. But the letter [above] ... dealing with the cyanide suicide, is not convincing. For one thing, it is vaguely written, whether or not purposely. For example, at Mondorf Goering presumably left one of his three capsules in his coat so that the authorities would find it and conclude that Goering had no more (a jejune conclusion). But Goering fails to tell us whether or not the authorities did find the capsule in his coat. If not, presumably Goering came to Nuremberg with three capsules; otherwise only two. Then Goering absolves from any "fault" anyone "in charge of searches," which, of course, fails to absolve anyone not so charged, which was most people. Goering's main purpose in this letter appears to be to crow over Andrus and his men by boasting of his own ability to hide his capsule in his cell "so well that ... it could not be found" and that the capsule "was almost impossible to find."
His secondary and avowed purpose was to protect those "in charge of searches." But Goering's examples of his skills--putting the capsule "under the coat-stand" (presumably at Mondorf and later "here in the cell") and in his riding boots "during the trial"--were utterly puerile. Granted that Andrus may not have been the sharpest of searchers, the suicide of Robert Ley in October 1945 had given Andrus due warning, and thus the guards would surely have looked in boots and under movables. Furthermore, there was a guard looking through the door window into the cell most of the time, and moving the capsule within the cell from one place to another would be about the quickest way to have it discovered . . . .
More important, the letter completely fails to prove either that Goering was as clever as he claimed or to exonerate the guards or others from assisting Goering in enabling his suicide. Those claims could have been proved only by Goering's revealing how he hid the capsule "so well that ... it could not be found," and he did not divulge that crucial matter. Goering could have lost nothing by the revelation after his death, unless someone else was involved. Indeed, unless Goering was prepared to explain his success, he would have done much better not to send the letter to Andrus and to leave the whole matter a mystery. Characteristically, though, he could not resist the temptation to crow.
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