Edda Göring (born 2 June 1938), is the only child of German politician, military leader, and leading member of the Nazi Party, Hermann Göring, by his second marriage to the German actress Emmy Sonnemann. The family name is also spelt in English-language sources as Goering.
Born a year before the outbreak of the Second World War, Edda spent most of her childhood years with her mother at the Göring family estate at Carinhall. As a child she received many historical works of art as gifts, including a painting of the Madonna and Child by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
In the final stages of the war, she and her mother moved to their mountain home at Obersalzberg, near Berchtesgaden. After the war, she went to a girls-only school, earned a degree from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and became a law clerk. In the 1950s and 1960s many of the valuable gifts she received as a child, including the Madonna and Child painting, became the subject of long legal battles, most of which she eventually lost in 1968.
Unlike the children of other high-ranking Nazis, such as Gudrun Himmler and Albert Speer, Jr., Göring did not speak in public about her father's career. However, in 1986 she was interviewed for Swedish television and spoke lovingly of both her parents.
The only child of Hermann Göring, Edda was born on 2 June 1938. Her father received approximately 628,000 messages of congratulations on his daughter's birth; tributes came in from all over the world, including telegrams from British Lords Halifax and Londonderry. The historian Giles MacDonogh later described the German reaction to the birth:
"The Reich was jubilant on 2 June. Its first lady, Emmy Göring, gave birth to a baby girl. The child was named Edda. The actress was 45, and her husband had been shot in the groin during the Beer Hall Putsch, so there was talk of virgin birth. When Hermann came to pick up his wife and child from the sanatorium 10 days later, the streets were black with cheering crowds".
It has often been suggested that the name Edda was given in honour of the daughter of Benito Mussolini, but her mother stated that this was not so. On 4 November 1938, she was baptised at Carinhall, and Adolf Hitler became her godfather. The occasion was reported by Life Magazine, with many photographs of Edda, her parents and Hitler, who greatly enjoyed the event. Her baptism presents included two paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
To the displeasure of Heinrich Himmler, it was discovered that neither Emmy nor Edda's nanny were Nazi Party members, but this was soon corrected, when Göring arranged for Emmy to join the party. On Hitler's instructions, she received the Golden Party Badge, a rare award originally reserved for founding members, long-term supporters, or people who had shown outstanding service to the party.
Edda grew up at Carinhall and like other daughters of high-ranking Nazi leaders and officials she was called Kleine Prinzessin ("Little Princess"). When she was one year old, the journalist Douglas Reed wrote in Life magazine that she was, "a sort of Nazi Crown Princess.
In 1940, the Luftwaffe paid for a small-scale replica of Frederick the Great's palace of Sanssouci to be built in an orchard at Carinhall for her to play in. Some 50 metres long, 7 metres wide and 3½ metres high, this had within it a miniature theatre, complete with stage and curtains, and was known as Edda-Schlösschen ("Edda's little palace").
In 1940, Der Stürmer magazine printed a story alleging that Edda had been conceived by artificial insemination. A furious Göring demanded action by Walter Buch, the supreme Nazi Party regulator, against the editor, Julius Streicher. Buch declared he was ready to "stop that sick mind once and for all", but Hitler intervened to save Streicher, and the outcome was that he was stripped of some honours but was allowed to go on publishing Der Stürmer from his farm near Nuremberg.
During the closing stages of the Second World War in Europe, Göring retreated to his mountain home at Obersalzberg, near Berchtesgaden, taking Emmy and Edda with him. On 8 May 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally, and on 21 May, a few days before her seventh birthday, Edda was interned with her mother in the U.S.-controlled Palace Hotel, code-named Camp Ashcan, at Mondorf, in Luxembourg. By 1946, the two had been freed and were living at one of their own houses, Burg Veldenstein, in Neuhaus, near Nuremberg. There they were visited by the American officer John E. Dolibois, who described Edda as, "a beautiful child, the image of her father. Bright and perky, polite and well-trained". During the Nuremberg trials, Edda was allowed to visit her father in prison. He was found guilty of war crimes and was sentenced to death, but on 15 October 1946, the night before his scheduled execution, Göring committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide pill.
By April 1946, Emmy and Edda Göring were living in a small house at Sackdilling.
In 1948, while living near Hersbruck with her mother and her aunt Else Sonnemann, Edda entered the St Anna-Mädchenoberrealschule ("Saint Anne's High School for Girls") at Sulzbach-Rosenberg in Bavaria, where she remained until gaining her Abitur. In November 1948, the family moved to Etzelwang to be nearer the school. In 1949, Emmy faced legal problems regarding some valuable possessions and explained many of them as the property of Edda, now aged ten. After leaving school, Edda became a law clerk and later graduated from the University of Munich. A private letter from an unknown relative in 1959 stated that "the baby is now a young lady, slim, fair-haired and pretty. She lives with her mother on the 5th floor of a modern apartment block in the Munich city centre".
In her later years, Edda worked in a hospital laboratory and was hoping to become a medical technician. She was a regular guest of Hitler's patron Winifred Wagner, whose grandson Gottfried Wagner later recalled:
"My aunt Friedelind was outraged when my grandmother again slowly blossomed as the first lady of right-wing groups and received political friends such as Edda Goering, Ilse Hess, the former National Democratic Party of Germany chairman Adolf von Thadden, Gerdy Troost, the wife of the Nazi architect and friend of Hitler, Paul Ludwig Troost, the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, the Nazi film director Karl Ritter and the racialist author and former cultural leader of the Reich Hans Severus Ziegler."
Edda worked in a rehabilitation clinic in Wiesbaden and devoted herself to taking care of her mother, remaining with her until she died on 8 June 1973. After that, for five years in the 1970s, Edda was the companion of the Stern magazine journalist Gerd Heidemann. Heidemann had bought the yacht Carin II, which had been Hermann Göring's, and according to Peter Wyden "He charmed Edda, pretty, not married, and devoted to the memory of her father, the Reichsmarschall, and started an affair with her. Together, they ran social events aboard the boat. Much of the talk was of Hitler and the Nazis, and the guests of honor were weathered eyewitnesses of the hallowed time, two generals, Karl Wolff and Wilhelm Mohnke."
For some years Edda made public appearances, attending memorials for Nazis and taking part in political events, but in recent years her life has been more withdrawn. Unlike the children of other high-ranking Nazis, such as Gudrun Himmler and Albert Speer, Jr., she has never commented publicly on her father's role in the Third Reich or the Holocaust. In the 1990s, she said of her father in an interview:
"I loved him very much, and it was obvious how much he loved me. My only memories of him are such loving ones, I cannot see him any other way. I actually expect that most everybody has a favorable opinion of my father, except maybe in America. He was a good father to me."
In 2010, Edda said of her uncle Albert Göring for an article in The Guardian, "He could certainly help people in need himself financially and with his personal influence, but, as soon as it was necessary to involve higher authority or officials, then he had to have the support of my father, which he did get."
The governments of West Germany and the reunited Germany denied Edda Göring the pension normally given to the children of government ministers of the old German Reich. As of 2015, she was reported to be still living in Munich. In that year, she unsuccessfully petitioned the Landtag of Bavaria for compensation with respect to the expropriation of her father's legacy. A committee unanimously denied her request.
At the time of her baptism in November 1938, Edda received several works of art as gifts, including a painting of the Madonna and Child by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a present from the City of Cologne. Part of an official collection entrusted to the office of the Oberbürgermeister (or Lord Mayor), the painting was previously on display in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne. The mayor at the time, Karl Georg Schmidt (de) had been a member of the Nazi party since 1923 and was a political ally of Hermann Göring.
After the war, the City of Cologne sought the return of the painting, on the grounds that the gifts had been unwillingly given to Edda under pressure from Göring. Advocate-General Philipp Auerbach (de), state commissioner for racial, religious and political persecution in Bavaria, was entrusted with the return of many art treasures that had been acquired by the Görings, and the legal battle over the Cranach Madonna lasted for 15 years. At the first hearing, in the regional court of Cologne, judgment was given for the city. Edda, who at the time was studying law, appealed this decision to the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, which in 1954 overturned the lower court. Historian Anna Sigmund reports that the appeal court "came to the conclusion that [Hermann] Göring had not exerted any pressure" and "on the contrary" the mayor of the day (Schmidt) had "tried to curry favor for the city of Cologne by giving away the Cranach painting". This was Edda Göring's second legal victory of 1954. She had already been successful in forcing the state of Bavaria to return to her jewellery valued at 150,000 Deutschmarks which it had seized.
The authorities continued to pursue the case of the Cranach painting, and in January 1968 the Federal Court of Justice of Germany in Karlsruhe gave a final judgment in favour of the City of Cologne. By that point, both the state of Bavaria and the Federal Republic of Germany had laid claim to the painting, which was returned to the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
Edda Göring is mentioned in a poem by Robert Pringle called "Stations of the Cross":
I start reading My Father's Keeper
to Edda Göring, who turns the blank pages.