An intoxicating golden reign has ended for the distressed Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring pictured above shortly after his capture by U.S. Forces.
Since the close of World War II, there has been several “interpretations” of the capture of Hermann Göring. With the passage of time and memories fading, a few veterans of World War II allege incorrectly that they captured the highest ranking Nazi – Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe.
His capture will be the subject of a PBS program, History Detectives, scheduled to air on August 29, 2005. The author will be featured on this program.
Following is what I believe to be correct. This information was taken from Brigadier General Robert I. Stack’s sworn testimony of May 20, 1945. His testimony agrees with the article published in the 36th Infantry Division’s newspaper, T Patch, on May 8, 1945.
On the evening of May 7, 1945 German Corps G, First Germany Army, and the U.S. Seventh Army had negotiated a cease-fire, and both units agreed to stop troop movements as well as to cease shooting at each other. During this time Göring sent a note to Seventh Army Headquarters in Kitzbühel, Austria, informing them that he would meet the Americans at the Fischhorn Castle at Zell am See, to surrender. At the time of his note Göring was staying at his Mauterndorf Castle, about 100 miles from the Fischhorn.
On May 8, 1945, the day of the surrender of Germany, General Robert L. Stack, Assistant Division Commander of the U.S. 36th Infantry Division, traveled to the castle with a platoon from the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion. When they arrived at the castle, it was occupied by armed troops of the Waffen SS Florian Geyer Division. Stack and his small staff waited for about three hours while members of the SS tried to contact Göring. Stack was informed that Göring was being held up due to German roadblocks and snow on the roads.
General Stack, his aide Lieutenant Harold Bond, and a German major drove away in a jeep and staff car in the general direction of Göring. One can only imagine the surprise of the German troops as an American Army general, a first lieutenant and German major drove through German roadblocks 70 miles behind German lines in search of Hermann Göring. Regardless of the danger, Stack wanted the glory of capturing the highest ranking remaining Nazi. He was no more than 30 miles from the Mauterndorf Castle when he found the Reichsmarschall and his household stopped on a country road a few miles from Radstadt. Stack and Göring got out of their cars and walked towards each other and saluted. Stack asked Göring if he spoke English. Göring said no but that he understood it fairly well. Stack told him he had received his letter and would accept his surrender immediately and take him to Fischhorn Castle at Zell am See that night. He would be sent to Seventh Army Headquarters either that night or the next day.
It was about 8:30 p.m. as the entourage headed back towards the Fischhorn Castle. They had no difficulty passing through the German roadblocks and entered the American lines at St. Johann, arriving at the Fischhorn Castle around midnight. They were 20 miles from Kitzbühel and Stack made the decision to spend the night there. Stack ordered Göring's staff to deliver all their arms to his room. Göring expressed a concern that the SS troops at the Fischhorn might kill him because just prior to Hitler's suicide, Hitler had ordered Göring's arrest and execution. Stack allowed four members of Göring's staff to keep their pistols and sleep in the front part of the room occupied by Göring.
Stack then notified the 36th Division Commander, General John E. Dahlquist, that he had arrested Göring. The following morning Stack had the SS troops disarmed and at about 10:00 a.m. left in his staff car, followed by Göring for the trip to Kitzbühel. Göring was taken to the division command post at the Grand Hotel. He was then introduced to Dahlquist. They saluted, and then talked briefly about the size and location of Göring's staff. Generals Dahlquist, Stack, and Walter W. Hess, along with Göring, had a drink and then ate chicken, peas, and mashed potatoes for lunch, as it was "fried chicken day" for the entire staff, an act that would later lead to fraternization charges against the American Officers.