The second-highest scoring German flying ace of World War I at the age of 22, he pursued a postwar career with the famed Flying Circus and in Hollywood movies. At the onset of WWII, he joined the Nazi Party and was placed in command of the Reich Air Ministry’s development wing. However, he could not cope with the bureaucracy and the intense pressure of Hitler’s demands led to his addiction to alcohol. Despite this, in 1939, he became Luftwaffe Director-General of Equipment. Internal conflicts and lack of raw materials for supply had him falter at his job and after the Luftwaffe’s defeat in the Battle of Britain, Reich Marshal Hermann Goering tried to deflect Hitler’s ire by blaming it on Udet. Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union drove Udet to commit suicide on November 17, 1941. He shot himself in the head while on the phone with his girlfriend. He scrawled a suicide note in red ink that read: “Reich Marshal, you are responsible for my death.”

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Originally a teacher, he joined the Wehrmacht in WWII. He helped to hide and rescue many Poles and Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland, and is most remembered for helping Polish-Jewish pianist and composer ,Władysław Szpilman, to survive, hidden, in the ruins of Warsaw during the last months of 1944. Hosenfeld was taken prisoner by the Russians at the end of the war and condemned to twenty years hard labour for having belonged to the German military unit which they believed was largely responsible for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Despite the fact that many people who had benefitted from Hosenfeld’s help, petitioned on his behalf, the Russians were never to release him and he died of heart failure while still in captivity. In June 2009 he was posthumously recognized as a Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

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An ace fighter pilot during WW1 and leading member of the Nazi Party in WW11. In 1935 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the German Luftwaffe. He was promoted to the rank of Reich Marshal and in 1941 Hitler named him as his successor. By 1942, with the German war effort stumbling on both fronts, Goering’s standing with Hitler was greatly reduced and Goering largely withdrew from the military and political scene to live, as an eccentric, in the lap of luxury. After the war, Goering was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials. He was sentenced to death by hanging, but committed suicide by cyanide ingestion the night before he was due to be hanged.

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ALBERT GOERING (1895–1966)

The younger brother of Hermann Goering – Reich Marshal of Nazi Germany. As a German businessman, Albert used both his influential position as Export Director for Skoda Industries and the clout his family name carried to help Jews and dissidents survive in Germany during World War II in direct defiance of his older brother and the Third Reich. At the end of the war, however, he was arrested by right of his name and unfairly imprisoned as a war criminal. He died in poverty.

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ALBERT SPEER (1905–1981)

Hitler’s chief architect and Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. As “the Nazi who said sorry”, he accepted responsibility, at the Nuremberg trials and in his memoirs, for the crimes of the Nazi regime. His level of involvement with Hitler and the persecution of the Jews, along with his knowledge of the Holocaust remain matters of dispute.

Read more in Golden Boy: The Albert Speer Story by Paula Astridge




Commanded the Sixth Army’s assault on Stalingrad during Operation Blue in 1942. Fearing that Paulus was about to surrender, Hitler promoted him to Field Marshal with the expectation that he commit suicide instead. Paulus chose to surrender to the Russians Jan 31, 1943.

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A leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and later the Minister of the Interior, Himmler oversaw all police and security forces, including the Gestapo. He rose to become one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany as well as one of the persons most directly responsible for the Holocaust. As overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler coordinated the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Roma, many prisoners of war, and possibly another three to four million Poles, communists, homosexuals, people with physical and mental disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of the Confessing Church. Shortly before the end of the war, he offered to surrender both Germany and himself to the Western Allies if he were spared prosecution. After being arrested by British forces, he committed suicide with a cyanide capsule before he could be questioned.

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The Commander of the famed U-Boat ‘wolf pack’ in WWII, Doenitz was made Commander-in-Chief of the German navy in 1943. At Hitler’s death he was named his successor and became the last President of the Third Reich. It was a position that no-one wanted any longer and for the rest of his life Doenitz never forgave Albert Speer for having advocated him for the position. After the war, Doenitz was condemned to ten years in Spandau Prison for war crimes.

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Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Hitler’s closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism. He played a hand in the Kristallnacht attack on the German Jews, which historians consider to be the beginning of the Final Solution, and the prelude to the genocide of the Holocaust. After Hitler’s suicide, he committed suicide with his wife, Magda, after having killed his children with cyanide capsules wrapped in chocolate.

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MARTIN BORMANN (1900 –1945)

Head of the Nazi Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler. He gained Hitler’s trust and derived immense power within the Third Reich by controlling access to the Führer and by regulating the orbits of those closest to him. On 1 May, 1945, after Hitler’s suicide, Bormann left the Berlin bunker with SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger and Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann as part of a group attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement. He was never seen again.

Read more in Golden Boy: The Albert Speer Story by Paula Astridge