Jonathan Wolfman's Blog

Jonathan Wolfman

Jonathan Wolfman
Maryland, Northwest of The District,
January 26
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MARCH 20, 2012 7:07AM

My Teacher Greets Hermann Goering-"Guten Morgen, Goldberg!"

Rate: 21 Flag


     You know, among the best moments we have as students have not much at all to do with prescribed curricula. Some, of course, do. Among the most excruciating prescribed  moments in my senior year of high school came when our English teacher, Marie Hildebrand, had us all memorize and then recite the opening lines of the 'General Prologue' to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. In the Middle English. We all did it, one by one, from memory, and, of course, it was a frighteningly searing enough experience that I can pull it from my back pocket on demand. Many of us can.

                Whan that Aprille with his shoures sotte

               The drought of Marche Hath Pierced to the Roote

               And bathed every veyne in swiche licour

               Of which virtu engendred is the fleur....

and like that, for thirteen more teenage toungue-bruising lines.

     Yet it was my senior year sociology teacher, Manny Kramer, who holds for me the Finest-Moment. I cannot tell you what I learned that Fall and Spring, '68-'69, though I believe it had to be something of value for Manny let those of us with 'A' averages off the final exam hook and I was among the Elect (as was, I think, about half our section).

     On a dreary winter suburban Philadelphia morning, tall, thin, quiet, almost avuncular Manny, quite against his usual determinedly subdued manner...Manny electrified us. Apropos of nothing in particular he said that he wanted to tell us about the morning he met the Nazi Luftwaffe Commander, Hermann Goering, among the Third Reich's elite.

     He had our attention.

     Manny, he began, had been a very young reporter with the U.S. Army assigned to the War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg. He had never, he told us, never for any length of time considered approaching, let alone speaking to, the men whom, he said to us, "were monsters."

      On the morning he met Hermann Goering face to face, Manny said, he'd arrived at the courtroom a little early because the night before he'd read that the American papers had carried in '42 or '3, when Germany still seemed invincible to so many, something Goering had said about Nazi air superiority and the inevitability of Nazi victory.

     Hermann Goering had apparently boasted: "If the British or the Americans ever fly over German air space, you can call me 'Goldberg'!"

     That wasn't something Manny Kramer, a Jewish boy from Philly, could possibly resist.

      A moment after the MPs led Goering and his fellow defendants into the dock, Manny recalled -- his eyes I remember now as bright globes yet distant...the man was quite transported as he spoke to us -- he sidled up as close as he could get to where Herr Goering, stone-faced, was seated and whispered

                   "Guten Morgen, Herr Goldberg!"

     Hermann Goering, turned on Manny Kramer the reddest, most vicious glare he had ever seen or had since.

     Our teacher said he was certain that had the Nazi leader not been so very aware of his surroundings in an Allied military court, he knew in his gut and without a doubt in his mind that Goering would have reached out to snap his neck.

     Manny paused; sighed. He said it ranked among the most satisfying moments of his life. I believe it. His face that day in class shone, and that, for me, how my teacher's face shone so that dreary winter morning, is among the finest memories I know I carry and will, always.     


Hermann Goring in the Nuremberg dock, first row, first seat at the left as one faces the dock.


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Some things you do not forget. I believe that even in his last years this had to make my teacher smile so big. :)
Wonderful account from two great teachers. Had Manny also and found that he was one of the great high school teachers who had patience and understanding, while dealing with students. A very caring man...
Goring cheated the hang man by taking poison before his hanging, a coward at the end, like the rest of the rats...
Ray right on all counts...and Manny was an art historian, too.
Jawohl!!!! Ach...ptui!
Matt and that last is good in any language. :)
Holly that's quite right, Ms. Not-Ignorant!
Kosh you see, then, why it resonates in me even now. :)
A great story. It had to be an incredible moment for him. Great account of this.

Buddy I actually called my aunt last night, in Philly, to make sure I wasn't hallucinating as I wrote this...just to make sure I was right in my own aunt was on the same faculty at the time. :)
Fantastic. A once in a life time opportunity. Holds bragging rights forever!
Ande you bet your tuchus them's bragging rights!
Balt probably teacher may have been as young as twenty in 1946...and, in '68-'9, he would've been in his 40s.
RW I guarantee that the man knew precisely what my teacher was saying. (Not worth debating here; one had to be there -- I am clear-as-a-bell on this.)

And of course, it's possible that Goering used any number of Jewish last names and Jewish-sounding last names in his bombast, for which the man was famous.
RW I know what you're betting and I am certain of what I wrote here. And so was my teacher. I am not going to continue this unfruitful back-forth.
Great story Jon
Fantastic. Posting to FB.
Wow. And how fortunate you are to have had such teachers.
Cred it was among the finest public high schools in the country in that era
That would be a satisfying moment all right.

(I'm surprised anyone would be able to get that close to the monsters on trial...wasn't Eichmann in a glass cage or something?)

As you can see in the photo, above, the men in the dock at Nuremberg in 1946 were not protected by glass or by any other measure besides, as you can see them in the same photo, the MPs.

As to Eichmann, the Israelis who tried him at Jerusalem in 1961 did keep him in a glass booth bc there had been death threats.
What a precious moment that must have been. Herr Goldberg- better be careful what you speak into the universe, it might come back at you when you least expect it.
rated with love
Poetess if there's Justice, Manny Kramer is forever in Hermann Goering's face in the Beyond.
Absolutely incredible post. You reminded me of a powerful lesson in which I was a player. A teachable moment is often totally unscripted. One day during a college composition class, I was having difficulty getting students to engage an assigned essay, “What Made This Man? Mengele” by Robert Jay Lipton. After prompting and cajoling, I challenged the students out of frustration, “If Mengele was here, standing before you, what would you say to him?” And as the students’ questions of anger, disgust, and even fear began to fly at me, without willing it, I became Mengele for them. I straightened my spine, jutted out my chin, emptied my eyes of emotion, and began to stiff walk around the stool I had been sitting on. I responded to their questions imperiously in rapid fire response, interrupting and even anticipating their questions. “For science, for future generations,” came Mengele’s response to the question of why he tortured gypsy and Jewish children with his genetics experiments. I felt I was channeling the monster doctor and my skin crawled with the experience, but my students were caught up in the drama, and we continued until one begged me to stop because it was too real for her. As I gladly released the persona, the students stared at me for sometime before we could reorient and begin a meaningful discussion of Lipton’s powerful essay about the inherent potential for evil in human beings.
Sounds like that REALLY rankled Herr Goldberg.

GOOD! and good for Manny!
beauty you & i should've taught together! :)
You can put a price on that kind of memory.
Wonderful story, and true! As Col. Hans Landa said in Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds", "That's a bingo!"
It's good to remind people of the Nuremberg trials and the whole concept of war crimes, given recent actions by Bush and Obama that violate international law.
And where is the intellectual integrity of deleting comments that reveal you get your facts all wrong and that this story could not possible be true?
I see absolutely no integrity in soliciting comments via spam and then deleting those who expose falsehoods that should not escape a sophomore. It's bad enough to publish rubbish that appeals to the incredulous under the phony pretext of being an "A" average "elite" but it's utterly devoid of intellectual integrity when a charlatan deletes comments that reveal you get all your facts wrong and that this story could not possible be true?

This is not a matter of opinion. These facts are all wrong, the quote is wrong, it could not possibly have happened and the real quote (which you deleted) was not even published till ten years after you claim your teacher allegedly reported it.

Please do not spam me nonsense like this. It appears Open Salon has a sufficient glut of the gullible ready to swallow such claptrap.
Look. Do give us a break. Mr. Manny Kramer (if he even existed ) was a charlatan who had dunces and nincompoops for students. So much for “A average Elite” students who could swallow history this dumbed down. I suggest that the self-anointed Mr. “‘A’ average Elite” think twice before insulating our intelligence.

But do you actually think that you could first get away with publishing such false, incredulous, rubbish and then also get away with spamming us all for debate only to quash free speech by deleting the credible commentary that utterly refutes every fact you rely on? Do you really think like the “history is bunk” Our Ford in Brave New World you could just go whisk, whisk, to delete the truth and no one would know? Really?