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neighboring countries, and ordered them arrested and put
into concentration camps if they returned to Germany. After the elimination of the forces of the opposition, the Nazis felt it necessary to dispose of nonconformists within their own ranks. During the Roehm purge of 30 June 1934, many people were murdered who had nothing to do with the internal SA revolt but were just "not liked very well” (2950-PS), Goering's role in this bloody affair was related less than two weeks later by Hitler in a speech to the Reichstag:
“Meanwhile Minister President Goering had previously received my instructions that in case of a purge, he was to take analogous measures at once in Berlin and in Prussia. With an iron fist he beat down the attack on the National
Socialist State before it could develop.” (3442–PS) (c) The Reich, 1933–39. Meanwhile, in the central Reich government, Goering occupied a series of the highest and most influential positions. The broad powers which devolved upon him made him, under Hitler, the Chief Executive of the Nazi State.
With the accession to power, Goering retained the somewhat empty title of Reichstag President but was also appointed Minister Without Portfolio and became a cabinet member. When in an early meeting (15 March 1933) the cabinet discussed the pending Enabling Act (which gave the Cabinet plenary powers of legislation) he offered the suggestion that the required two-thirds majority might be obtained simply by refusing admittance to the Social Democratic delegates (2962-PS). He became Reich Air Minister in May 1933 (2089-PS). In his capacity as Air Minister and Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe, he sat as a member of and the Fuehrer's deputy on the Reich Defense Council, which was established by the secret law of 21 May 1933 and continued by the secret law of 4 September 1938 (2261-PS; 2194-PS). This Council was a war planning group whose purpose was “to plan preparations and decrees in case of war which later on were published by the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich.” (2986-PS)
In 1936, Goering was made Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan and acquired plenary legislative and administrative powers over all German economic life. (1862-PS)
Goering was a member of the Secret Cabinet Council established in 1938 to act as "an advisory board in the direction of foreign policy" (2031-PS).
The Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich, created in 1939, took over, in effect, all the legislative powers of the Cabinet
which had not been reserved to Hitler's personal control or to Goering as the Delegate for the Four-Year Plan. Goering became the Chairman of this Council. (2018-PS)
Finally, as the invading Nazi armies marched into Poland, Hitler announced the designation of Goering as successor designate, the heir apparent of the “New Order."
(d) Economic Preparation for War, 1933–1939.
In April 1936, Goering was appointed Coordinator for Raw Materials and Foreign Exchange and empowered to supervise all State and Party activities in these fields (2827-PS). In this capacity he convened the War Minister, the Minister of Economics, the Reich Finance Minister, the President of the Reichsbank, and the Prussian Finance Minister to discuss inter-agency problems connected with war mobilization. At a meeting of this group on 12 May 1936, when the question of the prohibitive cost of synthetic raw material substitutes arose, Goering said:
"If we have war tomorrow, we must help ourselves by substitutes. Then money will not play any role at all. If that is the case, then we must be ready to create the prerequisites
for that in peace.” (1301-PS) At a subsequent meeting of the same men on 27 May 1936, Goering suggested a program of plant construction for the production of synthetic substitutes but warned-against the financial strain involved in excessive overexpansion. He opposed any limitations dictated by orthodox financial policy and stated :
“All measures are to be considered from the standpoint of
peace in certain amounts.” (1301-PS). On the Nurnberg Party Day in the fall of 1936, Hitler proclaimed the establishment of the Four-Year Plan, a comprehensive program of national self-sufficiency, and announced the appointment of Goering as “Plenipotentiary” in charge. In October, a decree was promulgated which implemeted this announcement and provided for the execution of the plan. (1862-PS) It is clear from Goering's own statements in an interrogation on 25 June 1945 that the purpose of the Plan was to place Germany on a war footing economically:
“Goering: 'My job was to organize the German economy and my energy was put to work to get things started and carried through
*. My main task was to secure the food supply for Germany for many years ahead and to make Germany self-sufficient. The most important items were iron,
petroleum and rubber.
The industry only wanted to have very high grade Swedish iron for business reasons. There was danger that during the war Germany would not be able to get iron from Sweden and there would be no iron.' Interrogator: 'What war are you talking about? This is 1936 you're speaking of.' Goering: “Any possibility of war. Perhaps with Russia, or in case there was war with anyone at any time and any
where.'' When asked the reasons why the Four-Year Plan lost importance in 1942, Goering explained that his preoccupation with the Air Force did not allow him the necessary concentration on the affairs of the Four-Year Plan, and stated :
"The main task of the Four-Year Plan had been accomplished.
This task was to get Germany ready." These answers confirm the comment Goering made in 1936, that his chief task as Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan was “to put the whole economy on a war footing within four years." (EC-408) As Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, Goering was virtually the economic dictator for Germany with control over all other interested Reich agencies. He was the "boss of the economy," and all important decisions had to be referred to him.
Two important conferences show clearly how Goering inspired and directed the preparation of the German economy for aggressive war. On 8 July 1938 he addressed a number of leading German aircraft manufacturers, explained the political situation, and laid the groundwork for a vast increase in aircraft production. After stating that war with Czechoslovakia was imminent and boasting that the German air force was already superior in quality and quantity to the English, he continued:
“If Germany wins the war, she will be the greatest power in the world, dominating the world market, and Germany will be a rich nation. For this goal, risks must be taken. The only thing that matters is increased output regarding quantity and quality. Even if the manufacturers know that their present policies may mean their bankruptcy within three years, they will have to do it all the same
I want you to be perfectly resolved, today already, how you will run your business when war comes. The earlier the manufacturers make their preparations for mobilization today, the less danger there will be of work being held up. It must be determined for every worker whether he is essential for production upon outbreak of war, and measures must be taken to
secure his deferment in case of mobilization. (3441-PS). An executive will be put in charge to work on nothing but the complete preparation of each plant for mobilization day."
(R-140) A few weeks after the Munich agreement, on 14 October 1938, another conference was held in Goering's office. He began with the statement that Hitler had instructed him to organize a gigantic armament program which would make insignificant all previous achievements. He indicated that he had been ordered to build as rapidly as possible an air force five times as large, to increase the speed of Army and Navy armament, and to concentrate on offensive weapons, principally heavy artillery and heavy tanks. He then proposed a specific program designed to accomplish these ends. (1301-PS)
(e) Military Mobilization for War. In his dual role as Reich Air Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the German Air Force, it was Goering's function to develop the Luftwaffe to practical war strength. As early as March 1935 Goering frankly announced to the world that he was in the process of building a true military air force :
“After the German government expressed willingness to help, it became necessary to make a clear demarcation within German aviation, namely, in this respect: which air force will be able to be made available? This situation brought about the decision as to those of the German aviation who will in future belong to the Air Force and those who will in future remain in civil aviation or in sport aviation. It was necessary to mark this separation also outwardly, so that the members of the German Air Force became soldiers according to
the law and their leaders became officers.” (2292-PS) Two months later, in a speech to 1,000 Air Force officers, Goering spoke in a still bolder vein:
“I repeat: I intend to create a Luftwaffe which, if the hour should strike, shall burst upon the foe like a chorus of revenge. The enemy must have a feeling of being lost already
before even having fought. In the same year, he signed his name to the Conscription Law which provided for compulsory military service and constituted an act of defiance on the part of Nazi Germany in violation of the Versailles Treaty. (1654-PS)
Goering's statements during this period left no doubt in the minds of Allied diplomats that Germany was engaged in full mobilization of air power for an impending war.
"Goering and Milch often said to me or in my presence that
the Nazis had decided to concentrate on air power as the weapon of terror most likely to give Germany a dominant position and the weapon which could be developed the most rapidly and in the shortest time
High ranking Nazis with whom I had to maintain official contact, particularly men such as Goering, Goebbels, Ley, Frick, Frank, Darrè and others, repeatedly scoffed at my position as to the binding character of treaties and openly stated to me that Germany would observe her international undertakings only so long as it suited Germany's interests to do so." (2385-PS)
(2) The Launching of Aggressive War. Goering was the central figure in the preparation of Germany for military aggression. In German economic development and military growth he held the key positions throughout the prewar period. Although he held no official position in the field of foreign affairs, Goering also figured prominently in all of the major phases of Nazi international aggression between 1937 and 1941. As "No. 2 Nazi" he was a leading participant in every major plan of territorial aggrandizement or offensive military strategy.
Goering was the prompter and director of the diplomatic tragicomedy leading to the Austrian Anschluss. In the middle of November 1937, Mr. Bullitt, the American Ambassador to France, reported the following conversation with Goering:
“I asked Goering if he meant that Germany was absolutely determined to annex Austria to the Reich. He replied that this was an absolute determination of the German Government. The German Government at the present time was not pressing this matter because of certain momentary political considerations, especially in their relations with Italy; but Germany would tolerate no solution of the Austrian question other than the consolidation of Austria in the German Reich. He then added a statement which went further than any I have heard on this subject: He said, 'There are schemes being pushed now for a union of Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, either with or without a Hapsburg at the head of the unit. Such a solution is absolutely inacceptable to us, and for us the conclusion of such an agreement would
be an immediate casus belli'.” (L-151) When the time came, on 11 March 1938, Goering was in complete command. Throughout the afternoon and evening of that day he directed by telephone the activities of Seyss-Inquart, also of Keppler, Ullrich, and the other Nazi operatives in Vienna. (2949– PS; the pertinent portions of these telephone conversations have