I came across this photo of Hermann Goering in the dock at the Nuremberg Trials, and I was very struck by it. This was one of the most terrible human beings who ever lived, and what he was is captured with great power in this photo. The eyes speak defiance, inner sadness and dark knowledge. The lips attempt the smile of the innocent, which only reveals the guilt he actually feels more clearly.
He died in his cell after being slipped a cyanide capsule by a guard who had apparently been bribed, but a number of other Nazi panjandrums were hanged in prison. Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, was among those who were detailed to clean up after the hangings, which were carried out in the gymnasium at Spandau Prison, which had been a school. He reported in his autobiography that there remained under the gallows a dark mark in the wooden floor, like a scorch mark, that could not be removed.
I have often wondered if this was left by their evil souls as they plunged downward out of the bodies. I have learned through my own and my wife’s life experience and much reading, especially in the literature of the ancient Egyptian religion, that a soul at peace with itself is light, and that our great task in life is to do good and to forgive wrongs against us so that we will die unburdened.
These men died bearing unimaginable burdens. As a group, the Nazi elite were probably the most evil human beings who have ever lived. I sense that Goering’s soul knew its fate, and I think I see that knowledge in this terrifying picture.
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