Goering: The Master Race

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

Dr Stahmer: What did you understand by the term "Master race"?

Goering: I myself understood nothing by it. In none of my speeches, in none of my writings, will you find that term. It is my view that if you are a master you have no need to emphasize it.

Dr Stahmer: What do you understand by the concept "living space"?

Goering: That conception is a very controversial one. I can fully understand that powers who together--I refer only to the four signatory powers--call more than three-quarters of the world their own, explain this idea differently. But for us, where 144 people live in 1 square kilometer, the words "living space" meant the proper relation between a population and its nourishment, its growth, and its standard of living.

Dr Stahmer: An expression which is always recurring is that of "seizure of power."

Goering: I should like to call "seizure of power" a terminus technicus. We might just as well have used another term, but this actually expresses as clearly as possible what did in fact occur, that is to say, we seized power.

Dr Stahmer: What is your attitude to the Leadership Principle?

Goering: I upheld this principle and I still uphold it positively and consciously. One must not make the mistake of forgetting that the political structure in different countries has different origins, different developments. Something that suits one country extremely well would perhaps fail completely in another. Germany, through the long centuries of monarchy, has always had a leadership principle. Democracy appeared in Germany at a time when Germany was very badly off and had reached rock bottom. I explained yesterday the total lack of unity that existed in Germany--the number of parties, the continuous unrest caused by elections. A complete distortion of the concepts of authority and responsibility had arisen, and in the reverse direction. Authority lay with the masses and responsibility was with the leader, instead of the other way about.

I am of the opinion that for Germany, particularly at that moment of its lowest ebb, when it was necessary for all forces to be welded together in a positive fashion, the Leadership Principle--that is, authority from above downwards and responsibility from below upwards--was the only possibility. Naturally I realize the fact that here, too, a principle, while thoroughly sound in itself, can lead to extremes. I should like to mention some parallels. The position of the Catholic Church rests now, as before, on the clear leadership principle of its hierarchy. And I think I can also say that Russia, too, without the leadership principle, could not have survived the great burden which was imposed on her by this war."

1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 88, Hermann Goering answers a series of loaded questions posed by the Soviet Prosecutor.

General Rudenko: I have a few concluding questions to put to you. First of all, regarding the so-called theory of the master race. I should like to put to you only one question in this connection and I should like you to reply directly to it. Were you in accord with this principle of the master race and education of the German people in the spirit of it, or were you not in accord with it?

Goering: No, and I have also stated that I have never used that expression either in writing or orally. I definitely acknowledge the differences between races.

General Rudenko: But do I understand you correctly that you are not in accord with this theory?

Goering: I have never expressed my agreement with the theory that one race should be considered as a master race, superior to the others, but I have emphasized the difference between races.

General Rudenko: You can answer this question; it seems, you do not consider it right?

Goering: I personally do not consider it right.
The Nuremberg Tribunal Biographies
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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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