Goering at Nuremberg
From Mr f.M. Carder Sir: What a scoop for Petronella Wyatt (Singular life, 1 February)! The mystery of how Goering obtained a cyanide capsule to avoid the gallows in Nuremberg in 1946 has puzzled historians ever since. The official report of the Allied Control Commission was never published, nor were the three letters left by Goering to his wife, the German people and Colonel Andrus, the American officer in charge of Nuremberg jail. Since then there has been much speculation as to the guilty party but, as Ann and John Tusa say in their book The Nuremberg Trial, 'No explanation is very convincing; none is backed by any proof.'
Mr Putzell's story seems to hold water and explains the difficulty there has been in establishing the truth. The American Office of Strategic Studies was a law unto itself, and at the end of the war employed many Nazis who were directly involved in war crimes and who were protected from prosecution. It is also quite believable that Donovan, head of the OSS (the Office of Strategic Services), 'secretly decided, with the agreement of the British contingent [at Nuremberg], that Goering deserved some sort of mercy'. Donovan and Putzell would both have had frequent and confidential access to Goering, and could have delivered the cyanide.
It is interesting to recall that Goering's suicide was kept secret until all ten executions had taken place. As a result, the early editions of several newspapers read: 'Goering first to hang'.