Goering: The Luftwaffe
1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 81 of the trial, Hermann Goering testifies on his own behalf, answering a series of leading questions posed by his defense counsel:
Dr Stahmer: Why did Hitler decide to rearm and reintroduce compulsory service?
Goering: In 1933, when I founded the Air Ministry, we had not yet gone into the question of rearmament. In spite of that I did arrange for certain basic conditions. I immediately extended manufacture and increased air traffic beyond the extent of necessary traffic, so as to be able to train a larger number of pilots. At that time I took over a number of young people, lieutenants, cadets, who then had to leave the Wehrmacht in order to take up commercial flying and there to learn to fly.
Now I could proceed to rearm on a larger scale; but in spite of that we confined ourselves at first to what we called a "Risk Air Force," that is a risk insofar as an enemy coming to attack Germany should know that he could expect to meet with an air force. But it was by no means strong enough to be of any real importance. In 1936 followed the famous report, which was presented to the witness Bodenschatz, in which I said that we must from this moment on work on the basis of mobilization, that money mattered nothing, and that, in short, I should take the responsibility for overdrawing the budget.
1946 Nuremberg Tribunal: On day 82 of the trial, Hermann Goering testifies on his own behalf, answering a series of leading questions posed by his defense counsel:
Here I was explaining at length to thousands of young flyers, the day they became commissioned officers, the concepts of comradeship, fulfillment of duty, and willingness to sacrifice. This quotation had been completely removed from its context. I therefore take the liberty of asking the Tribunal's permission, to read a short preceding paragraph, so that it will be seen in the right context, and I also request to be allowed to portray the atmosphere. Before me stand 1,000 young flight lieutenants full of hope, whom I now had to imbue with the appropriate fighting spirit. That has nothing to do with an offensive war, but the important thing was that my boys, should it come to war, this way or that, should be brave fellows and men with a will to act. The short quotation before this one is as follows:
I demand of you nothing impossible. I do not demand that you should be model boys. I like to be generous. I understand that youth must have its follies, otherwise it would not be youth. You may have your pranks, and you will get your ears boxed for it. But that is not the decisive factor. The decisive factor is rather that you should be honorable, decent fellows, that you should be men. You can have your fun as much as you wish, but once you get into the plane you must be men, determined to smash all resistance. That is what I demand of you, brave, daring fellows.Then comes the paragraph, which has just been read. "I have visions" ... "of possessing a weapon" ... "which shall come like an avenging host against the foe." That has nothing to do with vengeance, for "an avenging host" is a terminus technicus, a usual term, in Germany. I might just as well have said that the opponent would use another word to express the same thing. I shall not read any further here, for these words, if I were to read them, would be readily understandable; one has to realize to whom I was speaking.
"Can't we be friends?" The Nuremberg Tribunal Biographies
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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