NEWS

Hours before execution, Goring poisoned himself

On October 1, 1946, the president of the judicial group at Nuremberg, Geoffrey Lawrence, read the official verdicts from the trial. Martin Bormann, the deputy Fuhrer, was sentenced to death in absentia. (He was missing at the time of the trial and it was later discovered he had died in 1945). The other death sentences were handed down to Frank, Frick, Goring, Jodl, Kaltenbrunner, Keitel, von Ribbentrop, Rosenberg, Sauckel, and Arthur Seyss Inquart, who was the Reich’s minister of the interior and the governor of Austria. Hess, Funk and Raeder received life in prison, while von Schirach and Speer got 20 years and Donitz 10. Fritzsche, von Papen and Schlacht were acquitted. The hangings of those sentenced to death took place between October 15 and 16, while 40 witnesses and eight journalists looked on. But things did not go without a hitch. A few hours before the executions, Colonel Burton C. Andrews, head of security at the tribunal, told those assembled that Goring had committed suicide. Everyone had feared this would happen. The highest-ranking war criminal at the trial had poisoned himself – despite heavy security – just a few hours before his sentence was supposed to be carried out. Where had he found that fateful potassium cyanide capsule the night before he was supposed to be hanged? Six decades later, someone answered that question. In 2005, a retired army private, Herbert Lee Stivers, said he had met a German woman who had flirted with him and convinced the private to give Goring a fountain pen which apparently hid «medicine» for the Nazi leader. Stivers said he wasn’t sure what the «medicine» was until after Goring died. Stivers said he only came forward this year because he worried about being punished for his act.