When Field Marshall Hermann Goering, Deputy Führer and commander of the Luftwaffe, appeared before the Nuremburg Tribunal in 1946 to answer for his crimes, the world was watching. Much of Europe had directly suffered through the war that he and the Nazi system had brought to the continent, and now he would have to answer for his crimes.
On the other hand, Germany was full of Nazis who had been defeated but did not feel any part of the guilt for those terrible events. Would Goering be able to stand up for them, and give them hope for the future?
Goering proved to be intelligent and resourceful, a natural leader who dominated the other defendants at the trial and showed no self-doubt at all. The evidence he gave on his own behalf made the unthinkable seem reasonable, the normal reaction of a government and country under threat from outside forces. He denied all knowledge of war crimes, and the crimes against humanity that were now being uncovered. Only cross-examination by American and British prosecutors could force him to admit his complicity, but Goering was far too clever to be pinned down easily.
Here, in the actual words spoken by the three adversaries, is the story of the American prosecutor Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson and his British colleague Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe fighting to bring the true story of Goering’s crimes into the light. Using complete court transcripts, with commentaries on each session, this book allows the reader to follow the battle day by day. All three men, and especially Goering, jump from the pages in the words they used seventy years ago.
This is Goering from a different angle, seen not through his deeds but as you might see him at a town hall meeting. He is talkative and charismatic, even when on trial for his life and with the ruins of the Third Reich around him. His trial is followed through to the end, and the book has an Epilogue from his fellow defendant Albert Speer.
This very readable book brings together the many strands of the Goering war crimes trial in a way that allows the interested but legally challenged reader to appreciate the hubris and depravity of the Reich's Deputy Führer. The reader is left with the impression that Goering, throughout his trial, believed in the righteousness of the Nazi Cause and was surprised and disappointed in the final outcome. Goering's testimony to the Tribunal is both chilling and a fitting final testimony to the Nazi era.
~ Charles Gillman-Wells
Publication date: 08/07/2014
The cross-examination of Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg war crimes trials
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