CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 8, 2017 – Steven Spielberg’s 1993 epic historical drama “Schindler’s List” was a powerful account of the efforts of German businessman Oskar Schindler to save the lives of Jews interred at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland.
Like Schindler, there was another similar list created by a man with a more recognizable last name, who was also responsible for saving the lives of numerous Jews during World War II. His name was Goering. Not Hermann who was a leading member of the Nazi Party and head of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force), but Albert, Hermann’s younger brother.
Though the personalities of the two Goerings were 180-degrees apart, they loved each other so much that Albert frequently used his last name to his advantage to help Jews escape and/or flee the terrors of the German occupation.
Oddly enough, the Goering family lived with their godfather when they were children, growing up in the aristocratic Jewish environment of Ritter Hermann von Epenstein.
About a year before Albert’s birth, von Epenstein had an affair with Franziska Goering, giving rise to speculation that Albert may actually have been Epenstein’s son. If true, it would also mean that Albert Goering was half-Jewish.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Albert Goering, unlike his brother Hermann, rejected the barbarism of the party and immediately turned away from it.
Over the course of the next dozen years, Albert grew increasingly bolder in his efforts to free Jews from captivity. Most often he would use the “Goering” name as a means to gain leverage from Nazi underlings who were afraid to go against the wishes of Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man.
In addition to assisting Jewish families in their efforts to flee, Albert also used his position as export director at the Skoda Works in Czechoslovakia to encourage members of the Czech resistance to conduct acts of sabotage.
As time passed, the younger Goering frequently forged Hermann’s signature on documents in order to enable dissidents to escape. When that became too dangerous, Albert often signed a document simply using the name “Goering” knowing full-well that it would probably be mistaken for his brother Hermann since Albert, himself, was relatively unknown
There were also times when Albert would make appeals directly to Hermann in situations where he was aiding someone of enough prominence that he could “show off” his power to the younger Goering.
Because of his boldness, Albert was caught on several occasions only to use brother Hermann’s influence to gain his own release.
Frequently he would dispatch trucks to concentration camps to “pick up” prison laborers. After the trucks departed, they would stop in some isolated location where the passengers were unloaded and set free.
The irony of the story occurred following the war when Albert was questioned during the Nuremberg Tribunal and arrested, simply because his name was “Goering.”
Thus, the very aspect of his life that had made him so successful in freeing Jews from almost certain death, eventually became an albatross because his name was linked to that of his older brother, Hermann.
During his incarceration, Albert Goering compiled a list of 34 prominent Jews he had aided in obtaining their freedom from the Nazis, using his list as his primary defense in the trial.
Though Albert Goering was initially convicted for crimes he did not commit, many of the people on his list testified on his behalf and he was eventually released.
Brother Hermann was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang, but two hours before his sentence was carried out, he committed suicide by taking a cyanide capsule he had smuggled into his cell.
Albert Goering was arrested by the Czechs on a second occasion. But once again, the extent of his activities came to light and he was released.
Sadly, Goering spent most of his money in his efforts to help Jewish prisoners. Because of the stigma of his name, following his time in prison, Albert found it difficult to obtain enough suitable work, living primarily on funds provided by a government pension.
In one final act of kindness, Albert Goering was aware that his pension would be transferred to his wife upon his death. In 1966, just a week before he died, Goering married his housekeeper in an act of gratitude so she would receive his pension.
Albert Goering died penniless and without recognition for his anti-Nazi wartime activities.
It would be three decades after his death before Albert Goering’s story would come to light. Even today his efforts remain largely unknown.
But, as with his counterpart Oskar Schindler, it was a list of names that allowed Albert Goering’s story to be told.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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