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Secret Lifted Around Göring's Suicide

February 9, 2005
A former US Army private who was a guard at the Nuremberg trials has said he gave convicted Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering the poison capsule that enabled him to commit suicide two hours before his scheduled execution. Entire books have been written pondering how the heavily guarded Nazi leader managed to evade justice. While Herbert Lee Stivers's story cannot be proven, several experts on the era have said it rings true. Stivers, 78, a retired sheet metal worker from Hesperia, southern California, was a 19-year-old army private assigned to a guard that escorted Nazi defendants in and out of the courtroom during the post-World War II war crimes trials. Stivers said he agreed to take "medicine" to a supposedly ailing Göring to impress a flirtatious local girl who approached him one day on the street. "I would have never knowingly taken something in that I thought was going to be used to help someone cheat the gallows," he said. Two weeks after the delivery, on Oct. 15, 1946, Göring committed suicide and left a note bragging that he'd had a cyanide pill during his entire 11-month war crimes trial. An army investigation agreed and concluded the Nazi had hidden the pill on his body and in his cell. Stivers said nothing for 60 years, fearing he could face charges, until his daughter convinced him to go public to ease his conscience and reveal his part in history. The statute of limitations has long since run out, so he cannot be prosecuted.