LOS ANGELES -- A former guard at the Nuremberg trials has come forward to say he thinks he provided the poison that Nazi Hermann Goering used to commit suicide hours before his scheduled execution for war crimes, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.
Herbert Lee Stivers, now 78, was a 19-year-old US Army private when he took notes and a capsule hidden inside a fountain pen to Goering at the request of two men who said the Nazi general was "a very sick man" who needed medicine, the newspaper said.
Stivers said he is now convinced the "medicine" was the cyanide that killed Goering on Oct. 15, 1946, the night before he was to be executed. Goering, who had commanded the German Air Force, had been convicted at the Nuremberg trials the previous month.
"I felt very bad after his suicide," Stivers said. "I had a funny feeling; I didn't think there was any way he could have hidden it on his body."
Stivers had agreed to pass the items on to Goering after being introduced to the men, who called themselves Erich and Mathias.
Erich "said it was medication, and that if it worked and Goering felt better, they'd send him some more," Stivers said. "I wasn't thinking of suicide when I took it to Goering. He was never in a bad frame of mind."
A military investigation concluded that Goering had the cyanide all along.
The Army's explanation did not ring true to him, Stivers said, noting that Goering "was there over a year. Why would he wait all that time if he had the cyanide?"
It was not possible for reporters to independently verify Stivers's assertions. But military records confirm that Stivers was a guard at the Nuremberg trials, the newspaper said.
Stivers, a retired sheet-metal worker from Hesperia, Calif., said he broke his silence at the urging of his daughter.