Goering: "How I Met Hitler."
1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 80 of the proceedings, defendant Hermann Goering is given vast latitude by the Tribunal to tell his life story. He will be at it for the next few days. No other defendant will be given so much virtually uninterrupted time.
Goering: I was born on 12 January 1893 in Rosenheim, Bavaria.
Goering: First the Iron Cross Second Class, then Iron Cross First Class, then the Zahring Lion with Swords, the Karl Friedrich Order, the Hohenzollern with Swords Third Class, and finally the Order Pour le Merite, which was the highest decoration possible.
I inquired and found that on the following Monday evening I could hear Hitler speak, as he held a meeting every Monday evening. I went there, and there Hitler spoke in connection with that demonstration, about Versailles, the Versailles Treaty, and the repudiation of Versailles. He said that such empty protests as that of Sunday had no sense at all--one would just pass on from it to the agenda--that a protest is successful only if backed by power to give it weight. Until Germany had become strong, this kind of thing was of no purpose. This conviction was spoken word for word as if from my own soul.
He had always tried to find a "Pour le Merite" aviator or a "Pour le Merite" submarine man for this purpose, and now it seemed to him especially fortunate that I in particular, the last commander of the "Richthofen Squadron," should place myself at his disposal. I told him that in itself it would not be very pleasant for me to have a leading part from the very beginning, since it might appear that I had come merely because of this position. We finally reached an agreement that for 1 to 2 months I was to remain officially in the background and take over leadership only after that, but actually I was to make my influence felt immediately. I agreed to this, and in that way I came together with Adolf Hitler.
Caution: As always, these excerpts from trial testimony should not necessarily be mistaken for fact. It should be kept in mind that they are the sometimes-desperate statements of hard-pressed defendants seeking to avoid culpability and shift responsibility from charges that, should they be found guilty, can possibly be punishable by death.
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