When modern readers think of Hermann Goering, what probably comes to mind is the overweight drug addict and convicted war criminal who cheated the hangman’s noose at Nuremberg by committing suicide just hours before he was due to die. Or perhaps there is the image of his powerful German air force in the Second World War – the Luftwaffe – bombing defenceless European cities and towns in the early part of the war, until it was defeated by the Royal Air Force in the epic Battle of Britain. Perhaps the reader might think of Goering the debauched art collector who pirated captured collections all over Nazi Europe during the Occupation years.
All of these images are correct, but here we see another Hermann Goering: the slim, dashing fighter pilot and combat ace of an earlier struggle, the Great War of 1914-18, which he began as an infantry officer fighting the French Army in the 1914 Battle of the Frontiers. During a hospitalization, his friend Bruno Lorzer convinced him to become an aerial observer-photographer, photographing the mighty French fortress of Verdun. He did, and began these never-before-seen personal photo albums of men and aircraft at war: up close.
This remarkable book – the first of an intimate series of photographic diaries – is an unique photographic record of the early years of this notorious figure.