Was Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring an Idiot?

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Phil V
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Post by Phil V » 30 May 2002 15:02

To paraphrase GORING himself "at least i had 8 good years".

He was probably only in it for the fun, $$$$ and power that came with his position.

As for his position as strategist, leader, pilot and marshall - well he probably only did all these things to keep the boss of his back while he was enjoying himself.

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MVSNConsolegenerale
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Goering

Post by MVSNConsolegenerale » 30 May 2002 16:46

I've actually been reading a lot about goering in the past few days.

I'm currently reading INTERROGATIONS: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945 by Richard Overy. It seems he was a lot more intelligent than I originally believed, just by reading the transcripts. He was obviously corpulent and an 'un-intentional drug addict' (he only got addicted because he was prescribed certain drugs when injured in the first world war), but from a purely administrative point of view he built most of the notorious organizations of the entire third reich, including the gestapo. Also, the air campaigns at the start of the war were extremely successful; with him playing no small part in their invention and execution.

From his transcripts it seems that he was paying an amazing attention to the goings on in the war, not even just his offices. He knew what was going on with pretty much all the offices. The scope of his knowledge is simply amazing.

Also, he knew who to surround himself with and who to trust. A much looked over character is Von Newmann, who was his deputy in pretty much all matters. A very intelligent man usually portrayed as a rat-like imbecile.

Well, this book is simply amazing. A lot of propaganda had been put out about the leaders of the third reich, it is extremely interesting to see the interrogators opinions on these people. Most of the people who were labeled as degenerates or morans actually come off as a lot more cunning and intelligent.

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Galahad
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Re: Goering

Post by Galahad » 01 Jun 2002 20:52

I don't think any of the options truly describe Goering. He wasn't a great pilot--though he was a good one, he wasn't a great strategist and he certainly wasn't a great administrator, at least not where the Luftwaffe was concerned.

Neither was he an idiot. He was an extremely intelligent man, with an IQ in the gifted range. As I recall, on the IQ tests given the Nuremburg prisoners, only Schacht--and maybe Speer--scored higher than Goering.

He was a very perceptive man, at times. An example is when someone wanted Ribbentrop to try to conduct secret peace negotiations with Britain. One reason Ribbentrop was suggested for the job was that "Ribbentrop knows the English". Goering didn't think that was a good idea and replied, "Yes, but the English also know Ribbentrop".

Part of his problem was that he was opinionated, and when the opinion he had in his head was Hitler's, the results were often disastrous because he refused to disagree. Another part was that he was vain and liked the limelight, especially around Hitler. Claiming the Luftwaffe alone could destroy the British at Dunkirk is an example. So is claiming it could keep the troops at Stalingrad supplied.

In the first case, he can't be totally faulted, because the Luftwaffe WAS a powerful force then and hadn't run into anything that was its equal. In the second, though, he showed that he was ignorant of the actual capability of the Luftwaffe, something the head of an air force shouldn't be. And the ignorance ensured the death of 6th Army.

Goering was the proverbial mixed bag. He did a good job of establishing the Luftwaffe.....though he had some extremely competent help in doing that. But he wasn't competent to run what he built, especially in a war, particularly when his interference kept undercutting the efforts of competent men like Milch. This was partly due to lack of training, partly due to lack of administrative ability, partly due to his ego and partly due to the fact he refused to put in the long hours that the man who headed the Luftwaffe in war needed to put in on a daily basis.

His failures as an administrator are many. Given his fighter pilot's viewpoint, it's not surprising that he didn't back--I think it was Wever--in the building of a strategic bomber force. He built the kind of air force he knew, the kind he had flown with in WW I, though a much more modern version. But he lacked the insight or training to see the requirements modern war would demand.

He brought no order to the provision of aircraft for the Luftwaffe; rather, he actively interferred with such provision. Though Germany had a limited production capability, he scattered its resources to the winds, trying to build everything under the sun, rather than picking good plane types and building the numbers needed. The end result was that Germany was outproduced. Britain should not have produced more fighters than Germany in 1940, but it did. What Germany achieved in production, it achieved through the efforts of Speer in spite of Goering's interference

Much can be said of Goering, good and bad, but I think the word that sums him up best as head of the German Luftwaffe, is simply that he was a "failure".

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Scott Smith
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GÖRING...

Post by Scott Smith » 01 Jun 2002 21:36

I think Göring was an outstanding success prior to 1940 in building the Luftwaffe. If there is any failure it was the notion that Germany had the resources for a Luftwaffe that could be all things to all people. Air-armaments were still a new weapon, and some, like Douhet, believed that air-fleets could replace all armies (and navies). Hitler and Göring are really not to be faulted for thinking that an impressive show of air-force over Great Britain would lead to an easy diplomatic settlement. The British made no less of a mistake in thinking that pounding enemy cities and burning down workers' housing would lead to a Class War and the easy overthrow of the Nazis for some kind of puppet government

After 1940, however, the Luftwaffe had to concentrate not on armaments in-breadth but in-depth. It had to specialize on air-defense (Flak, fighters, rockets and radar) with as much reconnaissance and ground and naval air-support as could still be mustered. There is no way that Germany could ever build a strategic-bomber force comparable to what the Allies could do, and especially not without sacrificing from other critical missions. A four-engined bomber would not have won the Battle of Britain and a "Ural Bomber" would not have won the war in Russia. It would have been a waste in precious resources--a wise move to cancel it on Göring's part. Of course, if he had gone for it then it would have been a failure just the same and he would be criticized for that move instead. :wink:
Galahad wrote:Given his fighter pilot's viewpoint, it's not surprising that he didn't back--I think it was Wever--in the building of a strategic bomber force.
If Wever had lived to see the war, he would never have supported a strategic-bomber force comparable to the Allies given the enormous cost, nor would the Army and Navy likely stand for this. The Navy essentially went without air-support during most of the war. I can't imagine the Army being so accomodating. The Army Air Service had managed aerial warfare quite exceptionally during the First World War, as Göring well-knew. Every four-engined bomber built meant an intolerable number of fighters and medium-bombers used for ground-support that were not built. Of course, the Allies didn't have this problem, so they seem like geniuses, even though strategic-bombing didn't win the war for them, either.
:)
Last edited by Scott Smith on 06 Jun 2002 11:29, edited 1 time in total.

Ovidius
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Re: GÖRING...

Post by Ovidius » 01 Jun 2002 21:58

Scott Smith wrote:Of course, the Allies didn't have this problem so they seem like geniuses, even though strategic bombing didn't win the war for them, either.
:)
Then, what did win the war?

:? 8O

~Ovidius

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Galahad
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Re: Scott's comments

Post by Galahad » 01 Jun 2002 22:07

The judgement of experts on the Luftwaffe's failure to have a long range bombing arm is divided. Some say, as you did, that it couldn't afford to have one. Others say the lack of it hurt the German war effort.

But that's beside the point.

Are you saying, then, that Goering overall WASN'T a failure as head of the Luftwaffe? If so, then we have entirely different ideas of what constitutes a success.

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Scott Smith
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Re: Scott's comments

Post by Scott Smith » 01 Jun 2002 22:30

Galahad wrote:The judgement of experts on the Luftwaffe's failure to have a long range bombing arm is divided. Some say, as you did, that it couldn't afford to have one. Others say the lack of it hurt the German war effort.
The Luftwaffe could have used long-range heavy bombers to interdict the Russian railroad system during Barbarossa. It could have used them to knockout the Soviet electrical industry. It would have allowed some occasional carpet-bombing of difficult positions on the ground. And it could have used them to provide long-range naval air-support--perhaps the most important factor of all. Yes, they could have been used within reason, and if they could have been afforded, but the political temptation for a Douhet-style strategic air-force would have been too great, and the result would have been a failure without Allied means.
Galahad wrote:Are you saying, then, that Goering overall WASN'T a failure as head of the Luftwaffe? If so, then we have entirely different ideas of what constitutes a success.
After 1940, yes, because he became lazy and was not competent technically to solve the complex problems that were presented to the Luftwaffe after 1940. Still, the Luftwaffe prior to 1940 is Göring's creation and he shares a tremendous amount of credit for its success in defeating the Franco-British armies, and also later in Germany's civil defense, as he had planned for that long before the war.
:)

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Scott Smith
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POLITICAL WAR...

Post by Scott Smith » 01 Jun 2002 23:05

Ovidius wrote:
Scott Smith wrote:Of course, the Allies didn't have this problem so they seem like geniuses, even though strategic bombing didn't win the war for them, either.
:)
Then, what did win the war?

:? 8O
War is fundamentally a POLITICAL act. Wars are either won politically by politicians and diplomats or they are won by the military through either attrition or maneuver to force either a political ACT or to occupy territory with ground forces to replace enemy politico-military jurisdiction for friendly control or martial law.

The only example of strategic bombing not galvanizing the populace even more in sacrifice and support of their government is the two atomic bombings, which catalyzed the Japanese to say I QUIT.

Merely cruising into the harbor with a gunboat might be enough to secure that political decision, such as when Commodore Perry steamed into Tokyo bay in 1853 and said: Let's Trade! And the xenophobic Japanese somewhat reluctantly said, Okay.

In an age of Total Warfare, however, imperial powers are less likely to be able to control the interior with a simple gunboat (or even a carrier with a couple-dozen jets onboard). And because war is fundamentally a political act, not even 16 inch guns, napalm and atomic bombs will cow DESPERATE people who want to be free at any cost. They will strap bombs to their bodies and blowup pizzarias if they have to, even though this alone will not likely win a war.
:)

Commodore Perry Visits Shuri Castle,
June 6, 1853:

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Ovidius
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Re: POLITICAL WAR...

Post by Ovidius » 01 Jun 2002 23:30

Scott Smith wrote:And because war is fundamentally a political act, not even 16 inch guns, napalm and atomic bombs will cow DESPERATE people who want to be free at any cost. They will strap bombs to their bodies and blowup pizzarias if they have to, even though this alone will not likely win a war.
If you talk about Israelis and Palestinians(which BTW is so Off-Topic that this thread is very much in danger to be closed) the comparison sucks because none of the two sides has reasons to fight for a desert strip of land, and "someone else" needs a conflict there, for countless reasons. :mrgreen:

As for the Third Reich, it lost the war, but it lost also the peace, because although war had ended decades ago, a certain Mr. Spielberg around, together with thousands of his minions, contributes day by day to the campaign that builds mountains of bullshit over the Third Reich's image.

As for the resuslts, a lot of visitors have voted for option #4, which the author himself has put there mockingly, according to his own words.

And when "someone" had brought out info about Goering's IQ 138, "someone else" had jumped like a flea to say that the test had been done according to different rules than normal(in normal IQ tests, 100=Medium), and all the Nuremberg defendants were stupid(which was not the truth).

While, of course, Goering was not a strategist, nor an administrator, not even a great pilot, but just a sorry fat creature who played with model trains in his basement at Karinhall. And of course, a certain segment of the nowadays people needs to "Believe" that a "bloody Nazi murderer" couldn't have been otherwise than stupid :mrgreen:

It reminds me of a quote from Norman Spinrad's Sci-Fi novel The Solarians, regarding a comparison of enemy races Human and Doog:

"The Human is able to try actions which no Doog would try, because a Doog would know they're impossible. Yet still the Humans risk and sometimes, against all odds, they manage to do it. This is what the Doogs fear. They fear because they'll never be able to understand. And this is why they must consider us "vermin". For them, we have to be either "vermin"... or Gods."

~Regards,

Ovidius

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Galahad
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Re: end opinion

Post by Galahad » 02 Jun 2002 00:06

Scott Smith writes: "After 1940, yes, because he became lazy and was not competent technically to solve the complex problems that were presented to the Luftwaffe after 1940."

Despite picking of various nits, it looks awfully much like you agree with my overall estimation.....that in the end, Goering was a failure as head of the Luftwaffe.

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Scott Smith
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GÖRING...

Post by Scott Smith » 02 Jun 2002 00:14

Even if one does not consider HG to have been a good strategist or administrator, with 22 kills in the First World War, and having successfully commanded Richthofen's Flying Circus, I don't see how it can be said that he was not a good pilot, marksman, and leader. He was certainly a brave soldier and pilot.

One problem with highly-intelligent people is that they bore easily, and Hitler should have groomed the Reichsmarschall for greater responsibilities. Göring wanted to be Foreign Minister. But Hitler chose Ribbentrop instead. One reason that Fatty turned into a slug was because he could not imagine any way to win the war. In that respect he was an inadequate strategist.

It is certain that Hitler retained the Reichsmarschall as head of the Luftwaffe for too long; only when Göring threatened personal disloyalty by asking to assume power did Hitler finally sack him. Really, the fault is Hitler's.

Milch would have made a good Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe, with Jeschonnek as deputy and OKL Stabschef. Kesselring and von Richthofen were exceptional officers as well. Udet was not suited for the industrial and technological aspects of air-armaments and should have been kept as the fighter expert under Milch's thumb. Reform should have happened in 1940, but Hitler missed the last chance to effectively reform the Luftwaffe in 1943.
:)

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Galahad
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good pilot

Post by Galahad » 02 Jun 2002 00:26

"I don't think any of the options truly describe Goering. He wasn't a great pilot--though he was a good one"

I never said he wasn't a good pilot.

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Goering's two mistakes...

Post by Dave » 02 Jun 2002 00:52

1) Not making a long range bomber (like the US' B-17, '24 or 29, or the British Avro Lancaster) a priority allowed the Reds to simply move their industrial base out of range of the Luftwaffe's medium bombers.

2) The famous quote about how Americans can only make refrigerators and razor blades. Underestimating the US, specifically the 8th AAF, was the main mistake on the Western Front.

All told, we have two industrial superpowers that the 3d Reich could not materially effect the manufacturing base of.
War means fightin', and fightin' means killin'.

-Lt. Gen. N. B. Forrest

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Scott Smith
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Re: Goering's two mistakes...

Post by Scott Smith » 03 Jun 2002 01:28

Dave wrote:1) Not making a long range bomber (like the US' B-17, '24 or 29, or the British Avro Lancaster) a priority allowed the Reds to simply move their industrial base out of range of the Luftwaffe's medium bombers.
A heavy-bomber fleet during Barbarossa would have been helpful in preventing Soviet rail-movement when entire factories were moved to the Urals according to prewar contingency plans. But strategic bombing itself would not have been in the cards for Germany; it is thought to be cheap but isn't. This panacea would not have won the Soviet war even if the Germans could have afforded it.
2) The famous quote about how Americans can only make refrigerators and razor blades. Underestimating the US, specifically the 8th AAF, was the main mistake on the Western Front.
And the Germans lost their window-of-opportunity in nullifying this threat, which was easier to do than trying to win the war with 500 pounders dropped by aircrews not expecting to see their 25th mission.
All told, we have two industrial superpowers that the 3d Reich could not materially effect the manufacturing base of.
Excellent point. A border war in Poland becomes a world war against three superpowers. "Mission creep" is an understatement! Hitler's strategy was fundamentally flawed once he committed to military force, although waiting was not realistic either.

As Ciano once noted, defeat is an orphan. And Hitler and Göring were not winners. That does not make them idiots, however.
:)

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Post by Roberto » 03 Jun 2002 13:10

A border war in Poland becomes a world war against three superpowers.
Vernichtung Polens im Vordergrund. Ziel ist die Beseitigung der lebendigen Kräfte, nicht die Erreichung einer bestimmten Linie. Auch wenn im Westen Krieg ausbricht, bleibt Vernichtung Polens im Vordergrund. Mit Rücksicht auf Jahreszeit schnelle Entscheidung.
Ich werde propagandistischen Anlass zur Auslösung des Krieges geben, gleichgültig, ob glaubhaft. Der Sieger wird später nicht danach gefragt, ob er die Wahrheit gesagt hat oder nicht. Bei Beginn und Führung des Krieges kommt es nicht auf das Recht an, sondern auf den Sieg.
Herz verschliessen gegen Mitleid. Brutales Vorgehen. 80 Millionen Menschen müssen ihr Recht bekommen. Ihre Existenz muss gesichert werden. Grösste Härte. Schnelligkeit der Entscheidung notwendig. Festen Glauben an den deutschen Soldaten. Krisen nur auf Versagen der Nerven der Führer zurückzuführen.
Erste Forderung: Vordringen bis zur Weichsel und bis zum Narew. Unsere technische Überlegenheit wird die Nerven der Polen zerbrechen. Jede sich neu bildende lebendige polnische Kraft ist sofort zu vernichten. Fortgesetzte Zermürbung. Neue deutsche Grenzführung nach gesunden Gesichtspunkten, evtl. Protektorat als Vorgelände. Militärische Operationen nehmen auf diese Überlegungen keine Rücksicht. Restlose Zertrümmerung Polens ist das militärische Ziel. Schnelligkeit ist die Hauptsache. Verfolgung bis zur völligen Vernichtung.
Überzeugung, dass die deutsche Wehrmacht den Anforderungen gewachsen ist. Auslösung wird nocht befohlen ...
Source of quote: Ernst Klee / Willi Dressen, "Gott mit uns”: Der deutsche Vernichtungskrieg im Osten there is yet another summary of Hitler's statements at the afternoon meeting on the Obersalzberg on 22.8.1939. The document referred to is Nuernberg Document 1014-PS, IMT, Volume XXVI.

My translation:
The annihilation of Poland is the priority. The goal is the removal of living forces, not the reaching of a certain line. Even if war should break out in the West, the annihilation of Poland remains the priority. Considering the time of the year, a quick decision is required.
I shall provide for a propagandistic reason to unleash the war, regardless of whether it is credible or not. The victor is not asked at a later stage whether he told the truth or not. In beginning and conducting a war, what matters is not right but victory.
Close heart to pity. Brutal proceeding. 80 million people must get their right, Their existence must be assured. Greatest harshness. Quick decision is necessary. Firm faith in the German soldier. Crises must only be attributed to commanders having lost their nerves.
First requirement: Advance to the Vistula and the Narev. Our technical superiority will break the nerves of the Poles. Every new Polish force forming must be immediately annihilated. Continuous attrition. New German frontier according to healthy criteria, eventually a protectorate as a buffer area. Military operations must not take these thoughts into consideration. The utter shattering of Poland is the military goal. Pursuit until complete annihilation.
Conviction that the German Wehrmacht is up to the task. Unleashing will yet be ordered ...
Some "border war" that was.

And then there was the unprovoked aggression on 22 June 1941 against the Soviet Union ...

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