The Unsinkable Herr Goering: Ian Cassidy
Hermann Wilhelm Göring was a German politician, military leader and leading member of the Nazi Party. There is nothing funny or comical about this man. Fighting in World War One and considered an ace fighter pilot, he received the coveted Blue Max. As the last commander of Jagdegeschwader, the fighter wing or the Red Baron. He was a member of the NSDAP and was wounded in 1923 during a failed coup called the Beer Hall Putsch. So, what could possibly make anyone want to write about this man who killed millions and was considered Hitler’s right hand man. Not only that this evil man founded the Gestapo in 1933 and was appointed commander in chief of the Luftwaffe. So, why would he wear silk stockings, suspenders on the way to meet with the Ambassador thinking every step of the way that he should not have been asked to do this ridiculous job for Hitler? Called the Reichmarschall, he considered himself above it all and was slated to be Hitler’s successor and deputy in all his offices. According to this story and of course in order to provide some humor Goering liked to indulge himself by dressing in woman’s underwear. Added to this story and supposedly adding some human when he uses the bathroom he relieves himself in quite a unique way before the meeting is over.
As we get to know him within the first chapters we realize that he is a man who covets material things and whose desires are lavish. Within his thoughts we hear his opinion of the Ambassador, his home and what he hopes to get from his meeting. Resenting having been sent there in the first place Goring exhibits habits that are totally unbefitting someone of his station and position. Added in we learn more about what his plans are for his future as we move to his office and meet his aide Konrad who receives specific instructions for their futures. Goring is planning to leave Germany before things heat up and all he needs is transportation, all or most of his worldly possessions and something large enough to transport everything besides him and his family. Listening to him deal with the Ambassador you realize that both men are really quite the same as they discuss how they hope to divide the possessions of several noblemen who live in England when the war ends. Seemingly smug, confident and definitely feeling he is above it all, he returns to his office where he puts into a place as I started to describe a plan to run to South America knowing that Germany is not doing well in the war and things will get rough for him.
Moving to the next scene we meet Anne Cole who has been employed by Konrad to enlist the services of a painter and his staff to get the steamer he has hired ready for his journey. Meeting the painter, his secretary and his colorful staff allows the reader to learn more about the time period, the fact that no one is immune to having some fun on the side, drinking, deceit, lies, greed and more, Goering hopes to escape, not get caught and make his way to a better life. But, Anne might not be the hottest number on the street but she is shrewd, cunning and manages to befriend the painters secretary, get information out of his staff and has plans of her own for her future. Getting to know the businessman who owns the company that will be doing the painting and redecorating we learn that his business practices often mirror that of his late father and underhanded and unscrupulous are the terms that come to mind. But, Anne comes back on the radar with her superiors and they begin to channel and target her movements trying to figure out what she is up and whom she is working for. Herr Goering becomes restless and it takes every ounce of restraint on the part of Konrad to ease his mind, make him realize that in order for him to escape other pieces must be in place and the steamer has to be ready for him to travel. But, what is Konrad’s real motive? Will he turn on him and report to Muller and the others that are part of Hitler’s team? What happens when so many work so hard to catch this dangerous man?
An aide that prefers men and needs to hide it from the world, a plot to leave Germany and escape whatever Hitler has planned and the Allied forces, and the hope of finding his way to Spain and then South America. Goering appears to be a complete fool with no regard for anyone or anything but himself and his wants. Goering thought that he was highly regarded by Hitler only to find out in 1942 that this was not true and his importance lessened. He withdrew from the military and politics and focused on his property, money, art, riches and more that he stole from the Jews people he had killed during the Holocaust.
James Coughlan is the man running the renovations, the painting and the redecoration with his crew of unsavory men. Each one looking to make an extra pound or two and a manager who James has yet to catch stealing, things start to heat up as the plan is supposed to come full circle and Herr White/Goering is biting at the bit. Receiving a dispatch about the consignments, learning what Konrad or Major Soelliner has written the Reich Marshall leaves to attend a meeting with Hitler. Lies, treason, betrayals and plans that are left to others do not always play out the way you hope they will. As we hear his voice at home talking to his wife hoping to leave and start on their journey. As we read pages 149 and 150 we hear the voice of this criminal hoping to get his wife and daughter on the plane and out of Germany. But, what happens when the Swiss greets him and the officials you won’t believe.
As Goering and his family board the plane, find themselves in a farmhouse in temporary quarters we learn more about what others are doing to find him. With Konrad who has his own agenda, Coughlan fleecing him for more money for his drunken men who just want to get home at any cost, and the security forces of the Third Reich trying to find Goring there are many players after the same person. Gestapo agents after Konrad and Goering, Ernst Kaltenbrunner the Obergruppne Fuhrer hoping to be hot on the trail of both men the ending is near but just who will escape? Sitges Harbour: Where is his vessel and how did it disappear? What will happen if the Gestapo catches up with him? Hijackers, vessels taken and what happens when the British show up? Will Goering get away? If you know anything about history you know the answer to that yourself. An ending so explosive and a face off that someone might think that the author rewrote history and created his own ending for Coughlan and Goering. Whose side is Konrad on and what really is the fate of this Reich Marshall? Trying to avoid being arrested Goering goes to Sweden, lived in Stockholm for four years and became addicted to morphine and weighed over 280 pounds. At first you would think he was immune to the law as this occurred in 1927 and he was allowed to return to Berlin and then elected to the Nazi Party in 1932. He was the president of this party and one year late became a cabinet minister and then minister of the interior and prime minister of Prussia. But, Goering was greedy, naïve in many respects and thought he would become Hitler’s successor. The ending will definitely surprise readers that do not really know what really happened to him, what the British did in relation to his death and the end result for his family and for Konrad and Anne Cole.
The author brings to light what happens when your trust is placed in the wrong people and those that you think will not prevail do and those that think they are immune or in power learn the truth that they are not. Characters described by the author in his unique way but definitely not one that you like or even care about. Would you consider this a farce or just a different take on history with a definite touch of humor, sarcasm and twists?
Fran Lewis: reviewer