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Hermann Goering Didn't Say Quote About Enslaving People With Fear

Adam Warner Adam Warner
7th August 2021
Hermann Goering Didn't Say Quote About Enslaving People With Fear
The quote was falsely attributed (Getty Images).

The Claim

During the Nuremberg Trials, Hermann Goering was asked, “How did you convince the German people to accept all this?” 

To which Goering replied, “It was easy and has nothing to do with Nazism; it has to do with human nature. You can do this in a nazi regime, socialist, communist, in a monarchy or democracy: the only thing a government needs to turn people into slaves is fear. If you can find something to scare them you can make them do anything you want.”

Emerging story

The claim began circulating on social media platforms in 2020 in response to COVID-19 restrictions. 

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Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar’s investigation found no evidence that Hermann Goering made this statement during the Nuremberg Trials or at any other time. Transcripts of the trials, which are widely available online, do not have any instances of this quote attributed to Goering or anyone else.

The quote is likely a misrepresentation of a Goering quote from the 1947 book Nuremberg Diary by American psychologist Gustave M. Gilbert. The book includes discussions Gilbert had with Goering and other Nazi war criminals. 

In one such discussion, Gilbert is talking with Goering about how governments are able to manipulate people into going along with war. Goering says, “Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

To this, Gilbert responds, “There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.” 

Goering replies, “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

While this conversation does not feature the exact quote from the viral claim, this is the closest documented statement made by Goering to the quote that is being shared. However, it does not mention the use of fear to control people but methods of coercing the populace into accepting war.

The quote that is widely shared on social media likely comes from Robert Kennedy Jr., nephew of former US President John F. Kennedy. In recent years, Kennedy has become an advocate for conspiracy theories, COVID-19 hoaxes, and anti-vaccination. During an August 28, 2020 rally against Covid restrictions held in Berlin, Kennedy attributed the quote to Goering. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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