The other Göring brother
July 22, 2012 9:13 AM   Subscribe

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 stormtroopers 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 stormtroopers, 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 Göring, brother of Hermann Göring, the commander of the German air force and Hitler's closest confidant.

The differences between the brothers Göring were many—their colouring, tastes, aptitudes and perhaps even paternity—but the most striking was in their attitude towards National Socialism. At first trading on his brother's status in the Nazi Party and playing on his pride, Albert repeatedly defended Jews in public and saved perhaps a hundred lives. As export manager of the Skoda factory in Brno later on, he worked closely with the Czech resistance and once rescued truckfulls of people from the Theresienstadt concentration camp, under the pretence of needing factory workers. There were three arrest warrants out for him by the end of the war.

Unfortunately for Albert, the American forces to whom he turned himself over in May 1945 found his story too good to be true. He was tried in Prague for war crimes, acquitted and spent the rest of his life unemployed and obscure, largely forgotten by history.

Albert's story was published in English in 2009 in Thirty Four (autoplaying book trailer) by Australian writer William Hastings Burke. The book was named after Göring's list, written while in American custody, of thirty-four prominent people whose lives he had saved, and was the culmination of three years of passionate research. In their review, the Jewish Chronicle suggested that Göring be honoured at the Yad Vashem memorial to the Jewish victims of the holocaust.

Thirty Four has just been published in Germany under the title Hermanns Bruder—Wer war Albert Göring? (Hermann's brother—who was Albert Göring?). As well as the article in Der Spiegel linked above, it has been covered by Die Welt (German) and Burke has been interviewed on Deutschlandfunk's political literature programme, Andruck (German).

Previously in unexpected behaviour from Göring relatives.
posted by daisyk (31 comments total) 107 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this.
posted by dry white toast at 9:17 AM on July 22, 2012

Oh my god, that's amazing. I had no idea.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

Never knew about this little bit of history. He seemed like a decent bloke. Thanks for the informative post.
posted by dazed_one at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2012

Nicely put together, thanks.
posted by HuronBob at 9:29 AM on July 22, 2012

Wow. I studied a lot of history, but never saw this before. Many thanks for the links. Great post.
posted by Isadorady at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Reminds me a bit of Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth, and possible greatest American actor of the 19th century, who saved Robert Lincoln's life.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

Wow, I had no idea, thanks for this post.

It's strange - I never really think of the plight of decent people who happen to be closely related to monsters. I'd like to think that I could've retained an open mind had I been asked to consider the case of Hermann Göring's supposedly decent brother - but if I were an investigator already neck-deep in nazi brutality, I'm not sure I would have been able to either.
posted by tempythethird at 9:45 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had heard of him but thought he emigrated. How he escaped himmler is interesting. Perhaps Canaris knew him well.

I always found it odd that Hermann took with him to Nurnenberg like half the european supply of Demerol.

who saved Robert Lincoln's life.

Did he not see two more presidents killed?
posted by clavdivs at 9:46 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cool post, thanks daisyK.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:06 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, I've never heard this before. Thanks for posting this.

I only recently learned of Hermann Göring's involvement in this business.
posted by homunculus at 10:14 AM on July 22, 2012

Did he not see two more presidents killed?
It was Robert Lincoln who saw two other assassinations.
posted by Isadorady at 10:21 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Metafilter best of the worldwide internetworked web of humanity. Kiitos, gracias, and terima kasih
posted by infini at 10:32 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Very dapper fellow, Albert. WWI flying ace Hermann, not so much.

You know who else had a (half) brother? See also Hitler: His Irish Relatives.
posted by cenoxo at 10:53 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The things you learn when you read MeFi! Many thanks!
posted by nostrada at 11:04 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fascinating. Thanks, daisyk!
posted by trip and a half at 11:28 AM on July 22, 2012

Albert Göring also married his housekeeper just before he died, just so she could collect his pension.

Regarding the relative "dapperness" of the Göring brothers, I remember reading about Hermann Göring keeping a tiger as an exotic pet (to go along with his bombastic personality, I suppose). As he was showing the tiger off to guests, the tiger peed all over Göring's flashy white uniform. Good times.
posted by dhens at 11:29 AM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Some food for thought...

A few years ago I remember reading of an event that happened in Berlin, approximately half way through the war.
A work group of Jews was being escorted through the streets by the SS. Unbelievably one of the prisoners managed to give his guards the slip by sidestepping onto a bus/tram that was stood nearby.
The bus was full of Berlin women and their children, going about their daily lives, and the guy's clothes made it obvious that he was an escaped Jew.

Now, common sense, and everything that our history teacher told us, would make us think that the whole bus would stand up and shout 'Jew!' until the SS took notice and leapt on the bus. But no one said a word.... and the guy travelled to the next stop before leaving (presumably in great haste!)...

I've just spent ten minutes looking for this on the 'net but to no avail. I believe it was in a UK broadsheet newspaper.
posted by Monkeymoo at 11:55 AM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I get nervous responding to some of the racism and homophobia that my relatives and friends post on Facebook. Albert was a brave, brave man. I never knew of him before, but I am filled with admiration of his courage.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:25 PM on July 22, 2012 [14 favorites]

I thought I knew a good bit about the Third Reich. This amazing story was news to me. Fantastic post! Thanks!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:04 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shades of Where Eagles Dare. Richard Burton's British spy/saboteur, in full Nazi regalia, is trying to gain intelligence in a tavern by acting drunk, to the disgust of a real officer. Burton shoos him away with a short statement in German, the man's face having whitened. Clint Eastwood asks what Burton said, and he plummily replies, "I told him I was Himmler's brother."
posted by dhartung at 3:39 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Albert Goering is credited with many acts of kindness, small and large. Even today survivors remember once he took off his jacket, went down on his knees, and scrubbed a sidewalk together with Jews who were ordered by the Nazis to do so in public as a humiliation.

Choked up at this.

Fiction couldn't have invented a better (half?) brother.
posted by availablelight at 4:44 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Fascinating, thanks. I found this remark by Hermann especially absurd and chilling, "He was melancholy and pessimistic, I'm an optimist."
posted by Morrigan at 4:55 PM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

Every mechanical engineer I've ever met has been pretty cool.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Amazing story, thanks so much for sharing it here.
posted by smoke at 7:14 PM on July 22, 2012

Great post. I swear I'd buy a book about cats if it was offered on Kindle for cheaper than the hardback price, so this is doubly-wonderful.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:27 AM on July 23, 2012

"the Kindle Store on is for UK customers only. To shop for titles available for your country, please visit"

Nevermind. Only singly-wonderful afterall.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:28 AM on July 23, 2012

OK so it is on the US Kindle store after all. I'll stop commenting now.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:31 AM on July 23, 2012

nature vs nurture? or maybe it's the natural "eugenics" of being only half-brothers. great find.
posted by chavenet at 3:51 AM on July 23, 2012

Thank you so much for this shining reminder that history has many dimensions. Wonderful story, unusually strong and brave individual.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:25 AM on July 23, 2012

This reminded me of the story that would come up occasionally about Werner Goering, who flew a B-17 against Germany during the war.

He thought he was Goering's nephew, but it turns out that his father just lied about it to seem like a big shot, which is a new wrinkle I hadn't known about before.
posted by ckape at 1:10 PM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

The wiki on William Patrick Hitler, who changed his name later in life. I'd previously read that none of his sons had kids of their own intentionally--you know, to end the line deliberately--but that apparently is a myth.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:40 PM on July 25, 2012

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