Goering: Rearmament

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 81, Hermann Goering testifies on his own behalf, answering a series of leading questions posed by his defense counsel.

Goering: The rearming of the Air Force required, as a basic condition, the creation of a large number of new industries. It was no help to me to build a strong Air Force and not to have any gasoline for it. Here, too, therefore, I had to speed up the development of the refineries to the utmost. There were other auxiliary industries, above all, aluminum. Since I considered the Luftwaffe the most important part of the Wehrmacht--as far as the security of the Reich was concerned, and in view of the modernization of technical science--it was my duty as Commander-in-Chief to do everything to develop it to the highest peak. As nothing was there to begin with, a supreme effort and a maximum amount of work had to be achieved. That I did.

Much has been said here in a cross-examination about four-engine bombers, two-engine bombers, et cetera. The witnesses made statements to the best of their knowledge and ability, but they were familiar only with small sections and they gave their opinions from that point of view. I alone was responsible and am responsible, for I was Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe and Minister for Air. I was responsible for the rearmament, the training and the morale of the Luftwaffe.

If at the beginning I did not build any four-engine bombers, it was not because I had qualms that they might be construed as an aggressive force. That would not have disturbed me for one minute. My only reason was that the necessary technical and production conditions did not exist. That kind of bomber simply had not yet been developed by my industry, at any rate not so that I could use it. Secondly, I was still short of aluminum, and anyone only half an expert knows how much aluminum a four-engine bomber swallows up and how many fighters, that is, two-engine bombers, one can build with the same amount.

To start with, I had to ascertain who were likely to be Germany's opponents in a war. Were the technical conditions adequate for meeting an attack against Germany by such an enemy? Of all possible opponents I considered Russia the main opponent, but of course England, France, and Italy also had to be considered. It was my duty to consider all possibilities.

As far as the European Theater of war was concerned, I could, for the time being, be satisfied with bombers that could operate against the important centers of enemy armament industry. Thus, for the time being, I did not need anything more than aircraft which would enable me to do that, but it was important to have more of that kind.

But in a speech to the aircraft industrialists I let it be clearly known that I desired most urgently to have a bomber which, loaded with the necessary bombs, could fly to America and back. I asked them to work on that diligently so that, if America should enter into war against Germany, I could also reach the American armament industry. It was not a question, therefore, of not wanting them. I even, as far as I remember, inaugurated a prize competition for bombers capable of flying at great heights and at great speeds over large distances. Even before the beginning of the war we had begun to develop propeller-less aircraft.

Summing up, I should like to say that I did everything possible under the technical and production conditions then prevalent, to rebuild and rearm a strong Air Force. The technical knowledge of that time led us to believe that, after 5 years of war, new technical and practical advances would be made. That is a principle based on experience. I wanted to be prepared to have an Air Force which, however the political situation might develop, would be strong enough to protect the nation and to deal blows to Germany's enemy. It is perfectly correct for Mr. Justice Jackson to ask whether the speedy elimination of Poland and France was due to the fact that the German Air Force, acting according to modern principles, contributed so much. It was the decisive factor. On the other hand, though this does not concern me, the use of the American air force was also a decisive factor for the Allied victory.
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