The surname Goering is well known among history buffs. Hermann Goering was a German World War I pilot and decorated hero. After The War to End All Wars, Hermann Goering quickly became enamored by the rhetoric of a then little-known rabble rouser named Adolph Hitler. Later, when Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 as leader of the Nazi Party, Hermann Goering remained his faithful Second in Command until his death by suicide two years after his arrest and subsequent trial in Nuremberg using a hidden cyanide capsule.
Hermann Goering was tried and convicted of Crimes Against Humanity for his intimate involvement in the arrest, torture and murder of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Homosexuals and Transsexuals, the Physically Disabled, the Mentally Disabled, the Mentally Ill, Russians, and any others who disagreed with the Nazi regime and were labeled as “dissidents.”
Many are familiar with the names of famous Holocaust rescuers like the German industrialist Oskar Schindler; the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg; and the Dutch women Miep Gies (who hid Anne Frank, her family and friends) and Corrie ten Boom (who, along with other family members, helped many Jews escape the Holocaust).
Fewer people know about another hero of the Holocaust, Albert Goering, whose surname was hijacked so thoroughly by his older brother that he remained in obscurity and, in fact, was long suspected of Nazi collaboration, himself, because of it.
There is speculation that Albert Goering was likely the love child of their mother, Fanny, and her best friend, confidant and godfather to the Goering children, Dr Hermann von Epenstein, who also happened to be Jewish. You can read more about Albert’s life and the relationship between the brothers in a fascinating article by William Hastings Burke* on the UK website for The Guardian.
Regardless of Albert’s paternal origins, he was adored by his older brother, and this relationship continued until Hermann’s death. Albert Goering was everything that his older brother, Hermann was not. Whereas Hermann was boisterous in nature and sought out loud, busy venues, Albert was quiet and reserved. One thing Albert was not quiet about, however, were his political views. He was staunchly against the Nazi Party and everything it represented. There is an anecdotal story on auschwitz.dk of a Nazi officer who saw him, recognized him as Hermann Goering’s younger brother, and saluted him with a robust “Heil Hitler!” Albert responded, “You can kiss my ass.”
Albert used his relationship with his older brother to rescue untold numbers from certain death. In terms of devotion to the Nazi party, Albert was Hermann’s biggest liability. Ultimately, however, he was never able to refuse Albert’s requests to arrange for the release of individuals from custody, safe passage out of the country, etc. Hermann repeatedly shielded his younger brother from imprisonment and execution, and Albert made the most of his unique position to save as many lives as he could.
After the war, Albert Goering was imprisoned for several years simply because he was Hermann Goering’s brother. Another review of “Thirty Four” details that when he was released, he refused to change his last name and faced constant discrimination as a result. He became an alcoholic and survived on food packages sent to him by grateful Jews whose lives he had saved. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1966.
*William Hastings Burke is the author of the book “Thirty Four,” in which he documents his multi-country odyssey to uncover the truth about Albert Goering. The book’s title was inspired by a list of thirty-four famous people who were saved by Albert Goering. The book’s website also features an online petition that you can sign to urge Yad Vashem to consider awarding Albert Goering the title “Righteous Among the Nations.”