Hermann Goering was an exiled and penurious member of a small, despised, and discredited German party, struggling in Sweden against hunger and craving for morphia, selling his wife’s jewellery and running himself into debt to secure the bare necessities of life.
In 1936 Hermann Goering was second man in the most powerful State in Europe, completely cured of his addiction to morphia, immensely wealthy, and uniting in his person the positions of Prime Minister of Prussia, Commandant of the Prussian Police, Head of the State Secret Police, President of the Reichstag, Air Minister, Commander-in-Chief of the German Air Force, Chief Forester of the Reich, Head of the State Opera House, Reich Minister for the Four-Year Plan, and Field-Marshal.
Such a change in a man’s fortunes cannot come about by chance alone.
Goering had always in him the abnormal energy and the ruthlessness that point the easiest road to power.
All he needed was a big stick to batter the heads of all who got in his way.
Hitler provided him with the stick. He killed his friends as readily as his enemies in order to bring himself the things he wanted.
And what did he want? Everything. Power and blood and beauty, laughter and excitement and luxury and medals, a family and friends on whom to lavish gifts, beaten enemies over whom to gloat.
Grand passions and base passions, he wanted to savour them all.
And he has.
He has a beautiful and charming wife and a child.
His airmen have butchered the defenceless peoples of Europe.
He has countless dressing-gowns and pairs of slippers in which to luxuriate.
He has so organised the hunt in Germany, even reintroducing such vanished animals as the elk, the bison, and the wild horse, that he can find strenuous exercise and thrills at any moment in his great forests.
He has fine pictures on his walls and books on his shelves, fine plays and concerts to be enjoyed whenever he wills them, for they are under his control. Cost is immaterial.
He has had the fortune receive many huge gifts from industrial leaders. He glories in his own skill as organiser just as he glories in his skill in the hunt or in the cockpit of an aeroplane.
For any ordinary man the task of building from nothing the biggest air force in the world would have been sufficient.
Goering took it in his stride. And he did not hesitate in addition to this and all his other duties to undertake the direction of the Four-Year Plan, which meant nothing less than the direction of the whole industrial life of the State.
His day is one of 18 hours, and it is all too short for him.
He has amazing powers of concentration which enable him to see one thing in all its complexity and yet in its true essentials at one moment, and completely absorb himself in something quite different the next.
Of all the things he has got he values not least the power to indulge his own vanity, while millions of Germans indulge it with him.
They like him, in Germany, better than any other of their leaders. Fat and jovial, he parades his medals and his uniforms and his pet lion cubs and his palaces and jewels, and when the people laugh at him and make up funny stories about him he laughs with them and collects their stories.
Manchester Evening News – Saturday 31 August 1940