The Good Goering

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20160127

Gavin Esler investigates the story of Hermann Göring's lesser known brother Albert, who claimed he saved the lives of those threatened by Nazi persecution.

"He was always the antithesis of myself. He was not politically or militarily motivated; I was. He was melancholic and pessimistic, and I am an optimist. But he's not a bad fellow, Albert."

Hermann Göring was the most prominent Nazi to face prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials. He had been Hitler's successor and the second most powerful man in the Third Reich. Yet there was another Göring held by the Allies after the war, who in contrast was a complete mystery to his interrogators - Albert Göring, Hermann's younger brother.

Albert made some extraordinary claims. He said he had always been opposed to his brother's Nazi Party and, to the utter astonishment of his interrogators, stated he had saved the lives of countless people threatened by the regime, including Jews, sometimes with the help of Hermann himself.

Could it really be that Albert was the "Good Göring" he painted, or was he just another Nazi liar trying to evade judgement at Nuremberg?

Gavin Esler re-examines Albert's story to find out. Following the paper trail of historical documents which remain about him and through witness testimony, Gavin pieces together the life of this all-but forgotten Göring, and discovers more about the complex relationship he had with his brother Hermann.

Gavin travels to Germany where Albert Göring remains unknown to this day. He discovers Albert's story does not sit easily within the history of the period, challenging our sometimes simplistic definitions of good and evil.

A Kati Whitaker production for BBC Radio 4.