This day in history, May 9, 1945, Hermann Wilhelm Goering was captured by the U.S. Seventh Army.
Goering was second in command in Germany during the World War II era. The most powerful man in the country was Adolf Hitler. Goering became the president of the Reichstag, head of the Gestapo, prime minister of Prussia and would be Hitlers designated successor.
While a member of the NSDAP (Nazi Party), Goering took part in the the failed coup attempt known as the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. He was shot in the leg and became addicted to pain killers as a result.
Goering became the Nazi leader in charge of economic matters and ordered the purging of German Jews from the economy following the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938. As a result, the Aryanization policy’s effect drastically increased. Jewish property and businesses were confiscated and many became victims of the Final Solution.
During the pre-war years, Goering became an extremely popular figure in the eye of the German public. Even in the political circles of the United States and Great Britain, Goering was viewed as an accepting Nazi and a possible mediator between Hitler and western democracies.
When Goering failed to win the Battle of Britain and prevent the Allied bombing of Germany, Goering’s standing in the party was diminished. Hitler began excluding him from conferences, but continued him in his positions at the head of the Luftwaffe and as the leader in charge of the Four Year Plan. As the war went on, he became depressed and became more addicted to painkillers.
In April 1945, Hitler, fearing that Goering was a traitor and that he wanted to overthrow him, informed him that unless he resigned immediately he would be executed for high treason. Goering was then removed from all offices and placed under house arrest.
After Goering was taken prisoner, he was tried at Nuremberg and charged with various crimes against humanity. Goering was sentenced to death by hanging, but before being executed, he committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide tablet.