Wernher von Braun and Nazi rocket scientists during and after the war.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
Villain or Visionary? Wernher Von Braun: The Father of Rocket Science
Villain or visionary? Space travel today would not have existed if it were not for Wernher Von Braun. The scientist was a rocket science prodigy, with his research shaping the American space program, contributing rocket technology that is still being used to this day. Nevertheless, his past work with the Nazi’s followed him throughout his career, looming over his accomplishments.
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New documentary traces Wernher von Braun's path from Nazi Party to American space hero
A new 30-minute television documentary -- called "How We Got Here: Nazis Get Us to the Moon" -- traces how Wernher von Braun escaped Nazi Germany at the end of World War II and became America's best hope for beating the Soviets to the moon.
Wernher von Braun at 100: Rocket scientist's unequalled work celebrated in Huntsville
Wernher von Braun was a German engineer who came to the U.S. at the end of WWII after working for the German war effort designing the V-2 combat rocket. Despite his past with the Nazi party, von Braun went on to build the rockets that would carry U.S. astronauts to the moon. "I met him the first day on the job in February 1956. He'd forgotten his belt that day and had taken a piece of rope and tied it around his waist. He was very down to Earth and friendly, never talked down to anyone. But talking to him, working on a project, you learned very quickly he was a genius," recalls aerospace engineer David Christensen.
What does modern Huntsville, Alabama owe Wernher von Braun? Some say everything
When Charles Bradshaw came to Huntsville in 1951 to work with Wernher von Braun, he remembers there being "two restaurants in town." There is no question that von Braun helped change Huntsville. It grew from 13,000 people during the Second World War to 180,000 today. But how much of today's city is due to this Nazi scientist who led the early rocket work of both the Army and NASA in Huntsville? All of it, say many who were there. All of it springs from one man who could inspire a dream of space in a congressional committee.
U.S. Space and Rocket Center opens new exhibit on Wernher von Braun
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center's new exhibit, "100 Years of Von Braun: His American Journey," is a history lesson on the role of rocket pioneer Dr. Wernher von Braun in the U.S. space program, but artifacts also show a more personal side of him as a family man, musician and pilot. People know about von Braun as a rocket scientist and historic figure (and who was classified as an ardent Nazi in the U.S. intelligence files), explained Ed Stewart II, the project's designer and curator, "but they know little about his personal life. I think what we've managed to pull together is a picture of him as a whole person."
Peenemünde section leader wrote that Wernher von Braun had nothing to do with V-2 rockets
German academic Uta Mense has discovered a bitter rivalry between von Wernher von Braun and colleagues at the Nazi rocket base Peenemünde, one of whom told the Americans von Braun had had nothing to do with the V-2 rocket. 3,000 Vergeltungswaffe 2 (Vengeance Weapon 2) ballistic missiles were launched in the last years of WWII. Paul Schröder, a section leader who worked with von Braun at the Nazi military research facility developing the Aggregat-4 (the V-2 rockets), claimed von Braun had been excluded from all decision-making in the Aggregate-4 development after having disgraced himself with a series of failed experiments.
Ed Buckbee recalls working with Wernher von Braun, talks about Peenemunde's links to US space program
When von Braun was arrested by the SS in March 1944 - for saying the V-2 rocket was meant for the space travel - things changed for the Nazi rocket team, which began planning to leave the Third Reich. "If it hadn't been for Walther Dornberger coming to his defense, he would have been executed," Ed Buckbee explained.
Dannenberg family donating Nazi rocket scientist's papers to UAH library
Rocket propulsion specialist Konrad Dannenberg's papers and memorabilia were donated to the M. Louis Salmon Library at UAH (University of Alabama in Huntsville). The collection includes his books, photographs, awards, memorabilia, models, his Peenemuende diaries (1941-1944), and such unique documents as his immigration papers when he came to the America after the Second World War to continue working with Wernher von Braun's team. In Huntsville, the papers will be easily available to family - and historians will find the collection conveniently near the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal.
Dark Side of the Moon: Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich, and the Space Race [book review]
Though rocket scientist Wernher von Braun is championed for helping the US to win the space race, his ties to the Nazis in Third Reich make him deserving of harsh criticism, author Wayne Biddle states. Von Braun surrendered to American forces just before WW2 ended, moving to the US. When questioned about his role in developing the V-2 rockets, von Braun said his focus was just in space travel. But declassified files and interviews with Nazi labor camp survivors, reveal von Braun as an opportunist who fully accepted his orders to create weapons, not spaceships. He was also far more aware of terrible conditions in the V-2 factory than he admitted.
The Rocket Man - 20 min documentary film about Wernher von Braun
20-minute documentary film "Wernher von Braun: The Rocket Man" uses archival footage and associates' words to explore 4 decades of his career, from work in Nazi Germany through the Saturn/Apollo years and his campaign in the 1970s to create the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp program. The film is produced and written by Ed Buckbee - a former NASA public affairs officer - who reveals that von Braun, in addition to being a visionary and the engineer and manager behind the Saturn V moon rocket and Apollo landings, was a natural for the cameras. The film also includes recent interviews with people who knew von Braun well, like his secretary Bonnie Holmes.
Konrad Dannenberg: German rocket scientist who helped put man on moon
Konrad Dannenberg, a German rocket scientist who was part of the Wernher von Braun team that helped put the first American astronauts on the moon, has passed away at the age 96. Once part of Nazi war machine, Dannenberg and von Braun team members were brought to the U.S. to compete against the Soviet Union in space. Only a half dozen of the 118 Nazi scientists who came to Huntsville in 1950 with von Braun are still alive. During World War Two, Dannenberg left the battlefield to work on the V-2 rocket at Peenemunde. Of all his rocket launches the most memorable is the test launch of the V-2 on Oct. 3, 1942: the V-2 soared 53 miles high.
Von Braun team member Wilhelm Raithel dies
Dr. Wilhelm Raithel, one of the original members of Dr. Wernher von Braun's team of Nazi rocket scientists, died aged 95. He was born in Hoechst an der Nidder and later worked as a civil engineer in Munich. In the Second World War, a civilian draft order relocated him to Peenemnde to work with von Braun on the V2 rocket. After the war, he rejoined the von Braun team in Texas in 1947. He became director of Structures and Mechanics Laboratory at Redstone Arsenal and worked on the U.S. Army's Redstone and Jupiter missiles. "He was my boss. He was a very bright individual, as most of them were, and a very personable individual," William R. Lucas recalled.
Ernst Stuhlinger, scientist crucial to U.S. space race, passes away at 94
Ernst Stuhlinger, a close associate of Wernher von Braun, was one of the 118 scientists of the Nazi V-2 missile program who surrendered to Americans. He played the behind-the-scenes scientist to the more charismatic von Braun. Colleagues think that his ingenuity was vital to the first successful American space launching, 4 months after the Soviet Union stormed the world with Sputnik 1. In the frenzy to catch up, an army team was ordered to get the Explorer 1 satellite up, double-time. The rocket was a combination of V-2 technology and American upper stages.
Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War Author by Michael J. Neufeld (Book review)
That's quite a title for a lecture on Huntsville's greatest hero at a university that wouldn't exist with that his help. The lecturer was Dr. Michael Neufeld, Smithsonian Institution space historian and author of books on von Braun, who has not been popular here since he began scratching the popular image of von Braun in his book "The Rocket and the Reich," over a decade ago. Now he's back with "Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War," and his subject remains the same: putting von Braun in some kind of package that will hold both his World War II rocket work for the Nazis and his post-war work for America.
A town named a school after V-2 rocket scientist Klaus Riedel
A German town has been charged of promoting neo-Nazism after naming a school after a scientist who helped build the V-2 rockets. Bernstadt auf dem Eigen has renamed a school in honour of Klaus Riedel, who had a key role in the Nazis' development of the V-2 rocket programme, to mark the centenary of his birth. The Nazis used slave labourers to build the V-2 which were fired at Antwerp and London near the end of WWII. "If the NPD (far-right National Democratic Party) find out that there's a monument to one of the people behind the V-2 rocket, then I'd be extremely worried they're going to hold rallies all the time there," Astrid Guenther-Schmidt said.
German rocket team honored at space museum in Huntsville (Article no longer available from the original source)
Surviving members of a German rocket team who moved to the U.S. after World War Two were honored in their adopted hometown for their work to put America's first satellite in orbit and send men to the moon. "Without the German team coming to Huntsville we would not have had a new direction," said Mayor Loretta Spencer, who was among those who spoke at a ceremony honouring the German rocket team at the new Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. A plaque was revealed from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Retirees Association with the names of German rocket engineers on it. 7 of 9 known living team members attended the ceremony.
Werner K. Dahm, one of the German rocket scientists, dies at 90
Werner K. Dahm was a rocket pioneer whose work in Nazi Germany and the U.S. made significant contributions to the nation's ballistic missile projects and its manned and unmanned rocket programs. He was the aerodynamicist in the future projects group on the original team of German rocket scientists working at Peenemuende with Wernher von Braun during the Second World War, when supersonic and hypersonic aerodynamics were still in the early stage of development. He was chief of the aerophysics section at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. When he retired in 2006, at 89, he was the last of the nazi rocket scientists at NASA.
Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun's secret 1934 papers for sale
A once top-secret manuscript, a milestone in the development of modern rockets, is to go under the hammer. Wernher von Braun created the 166-page document for his PhD dissertation in 1934. It was was regarded so pivotal to the rocket development that it was seized by the German military and remained classified until 1960. Von Braun developed Nazi Germany's V2 combat rocket (the Vergeltungswaffen 2 or Vengeance Weapon 2). He surrendered to American troops at the end of WW2 and was merged into the American scientific community. Von Braun went on to become the director of Nasa's Marshall Space Flight Centre and the architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle for Apollo 8.
Wernher von Braun - Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War
During the space race, rocket engineer Wernher von Braun didn't inspire ambivalence. Cold-warriors worshiped him. He was the patriarch of U.S. rocketry; his desings would crush the Soviets - "eastern hordes" as he termed them. Others could not forget the V-2 missiles he designed for Adolf Hitler. To critics, Von Braun embodied a shameful U.S. policy that valued technical knowledge over justice. Yet today Von Braun is mostly unknown to those under 40 - says historian Michael J. Neufeld, whose biography spells out Von Braun's Nazi history: from the SS-sponsored equestrian school he attended to the Knight's Cross that he wore on his SS major's uniform.
Nazi scientist Wernher von Braun at Roswell claims Clark C. McClelland
During my long years in US space program, I exchanged data with former German scientists, who had been brought to the USA under Operation Paper Clip. I had the privilege of speaking with Wernher von Braun, the leader of the scientists assigned to the ABMA (Army Ballistics Missile Agency) launch crews at the Cape Canaveral launch sites. During the periodic MFA (Manned Flight Awareness) meetings, I was able to talk with von Braun. On one such occasion I asked "Did the Roswell Incident in fact happen?" He thought for a second, then talked about his inspection of the crashed craft, which did not appear to be made of metal as we know metal...
Operation Paperclip brought possible Nazi criminals to U.S. (Article no longer available from the original source)
Operation Paperclip was an extraction process of German scientists from Nazi Germany, which brought together a team that assembled the Nazi V-2 rocket. Harry Truman agreed to the project, but excluded anyone found "to have been a member of the Nazi party... or an active supporter of Naziism or militarism." The War Department's JIOA conducted investigations: all scientists in the first batch were "ardent Nazis." JIOA Director Bosquet Wev was furious, warning that "the return of these scientists to Germany, where they could be exploited by America's enemies, presented a far greater security threat ...than... any Nazi sympathies that they may still have."
Where the Rockets Come Down - The lesson of Wernher von Braun (Article no longer available from the original source)
In July 1943, Wernher von Braun briefed Adolf Hitler on the A4 wonder weapon: "The bird will carry a ton of amatol in her nose, but will hit the ground at a speed of over 1,000 meters per second, and the shattering force of the impact will multiply the destructive effect of the warhead." Hitler interrupted: "I don't accept that thesis. It seems to me that the sole consequence of that high impact velocity is that ... the warhead will bury itself in the ground, and the explosive force will merely throw up a lot of dirt." At Peenemunde von Braun ordered a research: "I'll be damn if he wasn't absolutely right. Hitler may have been a bad man, but he surely was not stupid."
Nazi remarks anger a member of Wernher von Braun's rocket team (Article no longer available from the original source)
Don't confuse German rocket scientists with Nazi war criminals, Dr. Konrad Dannenberg, a key member of Dr. Wernher von Braun's rocket team said. More than 100 German scientists were brought to the U.S. under an operation Paperclip. The German V-2 program was developed as a long-range guided missile by von Braun and his team at Peenemunde but Allied bombing forced them into a underground factory called Mittelwerk. Nazi leaders used death camp laborers for some of the tasks; conditions were harsh and many died. Von Braun was under parole, having been arrested by the Nazi SS. "He became a famous rocket scientists only years later."
Von Braun team: V-2 rockets and German rocket scientists (Article no longer available from the original source)
While cobbling together captured V-2 rockets in the Texas desert after World War II, German rocket scientists called themselves POPs, "prisoners of peace", to alleviate the sometimes tedious work of America's infant rocket program, a key member of Dr. Wernher von Braun's German rocket team said. Team members were not forced at gunpoint to come to America, but there was really very little choice, as Germany was bombed-out and war-shattered. The Germans had been working on military rockets at Peenemnde since May 1937, building on research that had been going on in Germany since the end of WWI.
Rocket man recalls von Braun pushing U.S. space program (Article no longer available from the original source)
Phil Fons was a young rocket propulsion specialist when he first met German physicist Wernher von Braun and his assistant Walter Riedel - two of the top rocket scientists in the world and the creators of the V2 rocket. Fons was working for Aviation's Rocketdyne division, overseeing the rocket engine tests of its Navaho missile program. It was von Braun who convinced John F. Kennedy to send a manned spacecraft to the moon. When U.S. troops swept over Germany in the final months of WWII, von Braun and his engineers surrendered to them - and Pentagon officials were quick to ship the entire V2 program to Fort Bliss and White Sands.
Project Paperclip: Dark side of the Moon
Sixty years ago the US hired Nazi scientists to lead pioneering projects, such as the race to conquer space. These men provided the US with cutting-edge technology which still leads the way today, but at a cost. The end of World War II saw an intense scramble for Nazi Germany's many technological secrets. The Allies vied to plunder as much equipment and expertise as possible from the rubble of the Thousand Year Reich for themselves, while preventing others from doing the same.
The Nazi Scientists of America - Including 118 German rocket scientists at Fort Bliss
The front page of The New York Times on November 17, 1945, bore a curiously vague headline: “88 German Scientists Reach Here, Reputedly With Top War Secrets.” The paper speculated that the group’s arrival was the result of a program announced weeks earlier by the War Department to bring German scientists to America. Men who just seven months earlier had been at war with the United States were being ushered onto our shores by the government. The purpose: to jump-start American high-tech industry.
Program highlights search for Nazi scientists during second world war
Driven by the fear that the Nazis might come up with a last-minute super weapon, and foreshadowing the beginning of the Cold War, competing Anglo-American and Soviet intelligence teams scoured underground tunnels and mountain hideaways for the best brains in Germany - as documented in "Secrets of the Dead: The Hunt for Nazi Scientists" WWII documentary.
Martin Schilling, Developer of V-2 Missile at Peenemunde
Martin Schilling who worked with Wernher von Braun at Peenemunde, Germany, during World War II to develop the world's first large ballistic missile, the V-2, died on April 30. Although not a decisive weapon, the 47-foot-long V-2 (Vergeltungswaffe 2, or Vengeance Weapon 2) with its one-ton warhead, was one to inspire dread among Allied civilians and soldiers alike. About 1,000 V-2's were fired at London during the war, and some 4,000 were launched against Allied soldiers. Because the V-2 traveled at an altitude of 60 miles and a speed of one mile per second, faster than the speed of sound, there was no warning of its approach.