Saturday, 9 March 2013

Was Göring's brother half-Jewish and did he save Jews?

Gerhard Spörl @ Spiegel: Göring's List: Should Israel Honor a Leading Nazi's Brother?

Leading Nazi Hermann Göring was instrumental to Hitler's reign of terror, but research suggests his brother Albert saved the lives of dozens of Jews. Israel must now decide whether he deserves to be honored as one of the "Righteous Among the Nations." [...]

But why did Albert Göring help those in need in the first place? There are no written documents describing his motivation for helping people in trouble. It is clear that the Hitler cult of personality was repugnant to him. His brother was the antipode, and his two sisters were married to ardent Nazis.

Albert was the exception in the family, an outsider who was respected and derided at the same time. There is, however, a story in his biography that lends a grotesque twist to this case of the unsung hero. According to a relative who prefers to remain anonymous, it was an open secret in the family that Albert was in fact only a half-brother. He was allegedly the product of an affair between his mother, Franziska, or Fanny, and the Göring family's wealthy physician. In fact, photos show a resemblance between Albert and the doctor, Hermann von Epenstein. Epenstein was rich and sophisticated, and he owned two castles, one in the Franconia region of Bavaria and one in the Austrian state of Salzburg. He was also of Jewish origin. If Epenstein was the father, Albert Göring, according to Nazi Rassenlehre (racial theory), was a "Jewish mongrel." Some might interpret this aspect of the family history as a motive for Albert Göring to rescue victims of the Nazis instead of becoming a Nazi himself or leading a life of luxury in his brother's shadow.

His life in Third Reich was certainly not without danger because it was possible to exploit the knowledge of his origins. But the Gestapo apparently did not discover the family secret, or else it would have caused more trouble for both Albert and Hermann Göring.

When the war ended, a period of suffering began for Albert Göring. On May 9, 1945, he surrendered to the Americans in Salzburg. He assumed that he would be shown respect because of his acts of kindness during the Nazi era. He told his interrogators who he was and what he had done -- but no one believed him. He was a Göring, the brother of the Reichsmarschall, an evil luminary within the Hitler elite, which meant that he could only be a Nazi of the worst kind. He was the type of prisoner who was desperately searching for excuses, as well as being extremely nervous, Richard Sonnenfeldt, the American chief interpreter at the Nuremberg trials, said in a TV interview. Albert Göring must have been stunned by the American soldiers' skepticism.

As proof of his actions, he compiled a list of 34 names. He neatly documented the names, previous places of residence, professions, citizenships and current places of residence of "people whose lives or existence I put myself at risk (three Gestapo arrest warrants!) to save" and specified their "race" and the "type of help" he had provided. The list includes prominent individuals such as Kurt Schuschnigg, the last Austrian chancellor before the 1938 annexation, and the wife of opera composer Franz Lehár, who was Jewish and No. 15 on the list of people Göring had saved. He had been imprisoned for a year when a new interrogation specialist named Victor Parker reported for duty. As he was reading the list of 34 individuals, he paused when he saw the name Lehár. By a stroke of luck, the composer's wife was Parker's aunt. The Americans finally believed the story their prisoner had told them and released him from custody. But he wasn't freed altogether. Read the complete article HERE.

1 comment:

Joanne said...

I think that, if anything, he should be given even more credit. To do what he did in that environment, surrounded by Nazis in his society and in his own family, must've taken a lot of guts.