Edda Goering was practically a princess of the Third Reich. As the only daughter of Hermann Goering, the leader of the Luftwaffe and Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man and potential successor, Goering was a national celebrity from the day she was born.
Her early childhood resembled a fairy tale. She grew up in Carinhall, an estate in the countryside replete with priceless works of art and a child-size play palace. Hitler was her godfather, and her birthday inspired national celebrations.
Her youthful idyll ended when the Allies defeated the Nazis in 1945. Hermann Goering, who had been convicted of war crimes and other charges at Nuremberg, committed suicide with a cyanide capsule in his cell hours before he was to be executed in 1946, when Edda was 8.
Edda Goering, who defended her father’s legacy for the rest of her life, died Dec. 21 in Munich. She was 80.
A spokesman for the municipal administrative authority for the city of Munich confirmed the death this week but provided no other details. German news reports said that only a few close associates had been informed of her death.
Children of Nazi officials can have complicated relationships with their parents. Goering’s feelings for her father, who doted on her, were straightforward.
“I loved him very much, and it was obvious how much he loved me,” she told journalist Gerald Posner for his book “Hitler’s Children: Sons and Daughters of Third Reich Leaders (1991).”
“My only memories of him are such loving ones,” she told Posner in a rare interview, “I cannot see him any other way.”
In the same interview, Goering played down her father’s part in the Holocaust, even though most historians say he was instrumental in implementing plans to systematically murder millions of people, including about 6 million Jews.
“My father’s problem was his loyalty to Hitler,” she said. “He had sworn personal fealty to him and would never abandon it, even when Hitler had gone too far. The things that happened to the Jews were horrible, but quite separate from my father.”
During her father’s trial, Goering and her mother, actress Emmy Sonnemann, Hermann Goering’s second wife, spent time in prison. They were living in a cottage without electricity and running water in the Bavarian countryside when her father killed himself; they eventually moved to Munich, where Edda Goering worked as a law clerk and later worked for a surgeon.
Hermann Goering, who was known for his lavish lifestyle, accumulated a vast collection of looted jewelry, furniture and artwork during the war. The German government seized most of his collection — property that Edda Goering said rightfully belonged to her and her mother. “It was all profit for the government,” she said, “and of course I did not receive anything.”
She unsuccessfully petitioned the Bavarian state government to return some of her father’s art collection. Her request was most recently denied in 2015, after a hearing that lasted only a few minutes.
Edda Goering was born June 2, 1938. Hitler became her godfather when she was baptized later that year.
Information on her survivors was not immediately available, but German news media outlets reported that she lived alone. Posner wrote in 1991 that her apartment contained a Goering family crest and many portraits of her mother and father.