CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Humanities Council is hosting a talk by Ken Hechler about his book, "Goering and His Gang: My Interrogation of Nazi Germany's Top Officials."
Georing was second-in-command under Hitler during World War II. Hechler's talk will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Hurricane.
Hechler's book contains transcripts of 80 interviews with captured Nazi military and civilian leaders conducted between July 1945 and May 1946, when Hechler was serving in the U.S. Army. He was part of a five-man team that interviewed German prisoners in Mondorf, Luxembourg.
"During World War I, Hitler was a very insignificant corporal. Goering was a lot smarter," Hechler said this week. "After the Munich Putsch, Hitler made a written agreement with Goering that he would take over if Hitler died."
Hitler and Nazi party leaders took over the German government in the mid-1930s. But by the end of World War II, Hechler said, Hitler did not want Goering to become president.
In April 1945, when the Soviet Army was taking over Berlin and marching toward the bunker where Hitler was hiding, Goering suggested to Hitler it might be time to let him become the leader of the Third Reich.
"Hitler then sent out an execution squad to find Goering, before he killed himself," Hechler said. "Goering then decided it would be safer to surrender to the Americans. The 36th Infantry captured him and sent him to Luxembourg, where I interrogated him."
Many of the German prisoners Hechler interviewed, including Goering, were sent to Nuremburg and tried for war crimes.