Goering, or Göring, Hermann Wilhelm (1893–1946), a German air force officer and Nazi leader. During most of the Nazi regime (1933–45) he was second only to Adolf Hitler in power.
Goering was born in Bavaria. He shot down more than 20 Allied airplanes in World War I, and commanded the famed Richthofen squadron after the death of Baron von Richthofen. Goering joined the Nazis after the war and took part in Hitler's attempt to seize the German government in 1923. When Hitler came to power, Goering founded the Gestapo (secret police) and organized and commanded the Luftwaffe (air force). Hitler made him marshal of the reich, the highest military rank, in 1940. Goering also directed Germany's economy towards war production, 1936–43. He was the leading Nazi defendant at the Nuremberg international tribunal. After he was sentenced to death for war crimes, he took poison in his cell to avoid hanging.