The putative remains of Carin Göring, wife of Nazi leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe Herman Göring, were found in 1991 at a site close to where she had been buried. In a recently published article, Maria Allen, professor of forensic genetics at Uppsala University, Sweden, and her associates present evidence supporting that it is Carin Göring's remains that have been identified.
The Swedish Carin Göring was married to the well-known Nazi leader and ace pilot Herman Göring (Goering). When she died in 1931 she was buried in Stockholm, but three years later Herman Göring had her remains moved to his residence - Karinhall, outside Berlin. At the end of the war, Karinhall was destroyed and it was unclear what had happened to her remains. In 1951, skeletal parts were found that were thought to come from Carin Göring, and they were cremated and buried in Sweden.
Forty years later, in 1991, treasure hunters found a casket with remains that could also be Carin Göring's. They were sent to Sweden and the National Board of Forensic Medicine for identification.
Marie Allen and her colleagues, together with Anna Kjellström at the Stockholm University osteoarchaeological research laboratory, have now examined the remains to determine if they can come from Carin Göring. Analyses of the total of 26 bones showed that they are from an adult woman. DNA analyses confirmed that they are from a woman.
The researchers then performed two kinds of genetic analyses. A comparison of so-called mitochondrial DNA evinced identical DNA sequences between the skeleton and Carin Göring's son, indicating a mother-child relationship.
"The variant of mitochondrial DNA we saw in the bones is a relatively common one, occurring in about 10 per cent of all Europeans. Therefore we went on to study nuclear DNA," says Marie Allen.
Analyses of DNA from cell nuclei is difficult if the DNA is degraded, which is often the case in skeletons that have been buried. Nevertheless, the scientists managed to analyse several places in the nuclear DNA and thereby show probable mother-son kinship.
"The results of our anthropological and genetic analyses, together with historical data, provides several pieces of evidence in the identification of the remains of the former Nazi leader Hermann Göring's wife, Carin Göring.," says Marie Allen.
Carin Göring has now been reburied.