When Hermann Goering’s younger brother Albert was interrogated by US army personnel in Augsburg, he handed them a list with 34 names. The list contained the names of 34 people whose life he had saved. The list was ignored as a fabrication for months.
William Hastings Burke’s Thirty Four was published by Evro. It tells the story of Albert Goering, the younger brother of Hermann Goering. Hermann told the US investigators that his brother was the exact opposite of himself, but that he wasn’t a bad chap for all that. Albert is the Goering whom history forgot.
Born in 1893 and 1895 respectively, Hermann and Albert were the sons of German diplomat Heinrich Goering and his second wife Fanny Tiefenbrunn. Rumour linked Fanny in an affair with Jewish doctor Hermann von Epenstein; and rumour saw Albert as the son of von Epenstein as well. True or not, it served to explain the marked difference in temper in the two boys.
Hermann went to a military academy, Albert became a civil engineer. During the Great War, Hermann became a fighter ace and a national celebrity, Albert took a bullet in his stomach on the Western Front. Hermann embraced Nazi politics and started to climb the ranks in the party in the 1920s, Albert opposed them.
In 1933, Hermann Goering was Commander -in-Chief of the Prussian Police and Gestapo and started the first concentration camp; Albert left the country in protest and moved to Austria. Later in Vienna, he came upon Nazis forcing Jewish ladies to scrub the street on their knees while a crowd gathered to gawp and jeer; he took of his jacket and took the scrubbing brush from one of them, kneeling down to scrub himself. He was accosted by the Nazis and asked for his papers; seeing his name, he was let go where anybody else would have been off to a concentration camp.
When Albert’s Jewish friends came under pressure in Austria, he helped them where he could. He helped more than one to flee to Switzerland; one he fetched from the Gestapo prison and drove him to the Italian border giving him foreign currency. All of them would later figure on his list.
Hermann and Albert had got estranged over politics in the 1920s, but by 1938 they had reconciled and the two families went on a holiday together. During that holiday, the news came that the Gestapo had apprehended Archduke Joseph Ferdinand IV of Austria. They had dragged the elderly member of the Imperial Habsburg family from his home, shaved his head, and transported him to Dachau concentration camp.
Hermann was so elated by the news that he offered Albert and his sister a wish each. Albert wished for the release of the Archduke. It must have galled Hermann, but the next day the Habsburg was freed. He would later be included in Albert’s list.
But even as the Reichsmarschall’s brother, Albert had to be more and more on the alert as his interventions were meanwhile noticed and recorded by the Gestapo. As the situation became more unbearable in Austria, Albert moved to Italy and started funnelling money into the underground movement there as well as strategic military information.
Eventually, he moved to Prague and took a job with Skoda. When a Dr Charvat was taken from the works to Dachau, Albert sent a command for his release to the camp commander signed simply Goering. It worked, and two Dr Charvats that were being held there were immediately released. (And no, you wouldn’t want to ask back for clarification with Goering, because it would mean the end of your career immediately.)
Several moves by Gestapo to apprehend Albert were quashed by Hermann who not only knew about what Albert was doing but sometimes was even part of the stunts out of a sense of family. Albert knew his time was running out, so he staged his major coup. He drove a convoy of trucks to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Telling the camp commander that he was Albert Goering from Skoda, he ordered him to load workers for him. It worked, and he let the freed prisoners free as soon as they were in the woods. After this, he was a fugitive himself.
After the war and after his release with full exoneration, Albert was unable to find work because of his family name. He had to live on the food parcels and gifts sent to him by the people he had helped during the war.