Hermann Goering (or Göring; 12 January 1893 - 15 October 1946) was a Nazi leader in Germany. Goering had been a fighter pilot and celebrated air ace during the First World War, and led the squadron of Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) after von Richthofen had been killed. Goering scored 22 air victories and was awarded the Pour le Mérite, informally known as the Blue Max.
He joined the Nazi Party in 1922 and in November 1923 participated in the Beer Hall Putsch with Adolf Hitler. He was wounded during the event. Following the failure of the attempted coup he fled to Sweden, returning to Germany in 1927 under amnesty. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1928 and became its President on 30 August 1932.
Goering founded the Gestapo in April 1933. He was also in charge of the Four Year Plan which controlled the national economy. In 1935, Hitler appointed Goering the commander of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), which he led during World War II. In one of the biggest blunders of the war, Goering convinced Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt and Hitler not to advance on the trapped allied forces at the Battle of Dunkirk because he wanted the air force to share in the glory of their destruction. Most of the trapped forces were taken aboard ships to England to fight another day. Still Goering was considered the second most powerful member of the Nazi Party. Hitler also officially designated Goering as his successor on 29 June 1941. However, during the last two years of the war Goering's power greatly waned. Goering spent much of his time hunting, collecting stolen art and living in seclusion. He was a drug addict. Goering became the subject of ridicule both inside and outside the Nazi Party.
In the final days of the war in Europe, Martin Bormann convinced Hitler to remove him from power. Goering later surrendered on May 6, 1945 to units of the U.S. Army 36th Infantry Division. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials. Hours before his execution, Goering committed suicide by cyanide, an embarrassment to his captors. Goering was a documented evolutionist.