Albert Göering, the brother of the infamous Herman Göering, was diametrically opposed to everything that Herman represented. What is unknown is why two siblings could be so different in outlook yet experience the same privileged upbringing.
Main picture: Albert Goering in 1936
Hermann Göering was Hitler’s right-hand man and the founder of the Gestapo. Albert Göering was Hermann’s younger brother. While his maniacal sibling was killing Jews, Albert worked tirelessly to save them.
The Göering brothers, only two years apart, grew up in a Bavarian castle. From an early age, the two were obviously different. Hermann was bold, confident and obsessed with war games; Albert was shy and thoughtful. Later, Hermann would tell a psychiatrist from his Nuremberg cell, “Albert was always the antithesis of myself.”
Like many other Germans of the pre Nazi era, either the Göerings had Jewish friends or more scandalously, Jewish blood coursed through their Aryan veins.
Albert Göering was born on 9 March 1895 in Friedenau, Berlin. He was the fifth child of the former Reichskommissar to German South-West Africa and German Consul General to Haiti, Heinrich Ernst Göering, and his wife Franziska “Fanny” Tiefenbrunn, who came from a Bavarian peasant family.
The Göerings were relatives of numerous residents of the Eberle/Eberlin area in Switzerland and Germany, among them German Counts Zeppelin, including aviation pioneer Ferdinand von Zeppelin; German nationalist art historian Hermann Grimm, author of concept of the German hero as a mover of history that was later embraced by the Nazis and various other upper class individuals.
The Göering family lived with their children’s aristocratic godfather of Jewish heritage, Ritter Hermann von Epenstein, in his Veldenstein and Mauterndorf castles. Von Epenstein was a prominent physician and acted as a surrogate father to the children as Heinrich Göering was often absent from the family home. Albert was one of five children. His brothers were Hermann and Karl Ernst Göering, and his half-sisters were Olga Therese Sophia and Paula Elisabeth Rosa Göering, both from his father’s first marriage.
Von Epenstein began an affair with Franziska Göering about a year before Albert’s birth. A strong physical resemblance between von Epenstein and Albert Göering even led many to believe that they were father and son. If this were true, it meant that Albert Göering was half-Jewish. However, Franziska Göering had accompanied her husband to his post in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and lived there with him between March 1893 and mid-1894, which makes this seem extremely unlikely.
Albert’s anti-Nazi activities
Albert Göering seemed to have acquired his godfather’s character as a bon vivant and looked set to lead an “unremarkable life” as a filmmaker, until the Nazis came to power in 1933. Unlike his elder brother Hermann, who was a leading party member, Albert Göering despised Nazism and the brutality that it involved.
Many anecdotal stories exist about Göring’s resistance to the Nazi ideology and regime. For example, Albert is reported to have joined a group of Jewish women that had been forced to scrub the street. The SS officer in charge inspected his identification, and ordered the group’s scrubbing activity to stop after realizing he could be held responsible for allowing Hermann Göring’s brother to be publicly humiliated.
The Accidental Talmudist reports this incident as follows: “In Vienna, Albert once came upon a group of Nazi thugs, who had put a sign around an old woman’s neck proclaiming “I am a Jewish sow.” A crowd gathered to mock the woman. Albert pushed through the mob, and punched two Gestapo officers to save the woman. His life might have ended right there, as the crowd turned on him. The SS men demanded to see his papers. When they saw his name, they escorted him to safety in deference to Hermann.”
Albert Göering used his influence to get his Jewish former boss Oskar Pilzer freed after the Nazis arrested him. Göering then helped Pilzer and his family escape from Germany. He is reported to have done the same for many other German dissidents.
Göering intensified his anti-Nazi activity when he was made export director at the Škoda Works in Czechoslovakia. He encouraged minor acts of sabotage and had contact with the Czech resistance. On many occasions, he forged his brother’s signature on transit documents to enable dissidents to escape. When he was caught, he used his brother’s influence to gain his release. Göring also sent trucks to Nazi concentration camps with requests for labourers. The trucks would stop in an isolated area, and their passengers were then allowed to escape.
After the war
After the war, Albert was imprisoned at Nuremberg and interrogated for fifteen months. Nobody believed his story until 34 Jews that he had rescued submitted sworn statements on his behalf.
He was freed, but soon found that his name made him an unemployable pariah. Albert sank into depression and alcoholism, surviving on a small government pension and food packages sent by Jews he had saved.
He died in obscurity in 1966.
Albert’s wartime heroism was unknown until documents were recently unearthed in British archives showing that he saved hundreds of Jews.
Accidental Talmudist: A Tale of Two Brothers by Unknown Author
Thirty Four by William Hastings Burke