Dec 052007
 

Wernher von Braun (1912-1977)

I see in the paper that Wernher von Braun’s doctoral thesis went for auction in New York today.

Wernher von BraunLet me tell you a little about Wernher von Braun.

The Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp provided the slave labour needed to produce the V-2 rocket at the Mittelwerk factory, buried deep in the Kohnstein mountain in central Germany. It was no holiday camp: its first commandant, SS-Sturmbannführer  Otto Förschner , was followed by Richard Baer, formerly commandant of Auschwitz.

20.000 slaves were worked to death at the Mittelwerk, dying at the rate of 250 a day. In fact, more people died in the manufacture of the weapon than were killed by its use. When the American forces approached in 1945, and the Nazis could no longer sustain production, they death-marched most of the prisoners to the death camps at Bergen-Belsen and Sachsenhausen, leaving behind only the sick and dying. In spite of this mass evacuation, American soldiers found 6,000 bodies lying around when they liberated Mittelbau, and subsequently forced the citizens of nearby Nordhausen to bury the dead in a mass grave.

The celebrated scientist, Wernher Von Braun, or to give him his full title, SS Sturmbannführer Dr Baron Wernher Magnus Maximilian von Braun, led the rocket team which developed the V-2 ballistic missile. He often visited Mittelwerk, and participated in the discussions about gaining maximum production from the slaves and increasing the number of slaves needed to produce the rockets. It was a daily occurrence for von Braun to pass the piles of bodies murdered by the SS, and he personally selected slaves from the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Von Braun may have had reason to reconsider his position in early 1944, but it wasn’t due to a crisis of conscience. Himmler had him arrested by the Gestapo for questioning the wisdom of the V-rocket programme, and it was only the personal intercession of Albert Speer with Hitler that secured his release. A year later, as the Russians approached his research HQ at Peenemünde, Von Braun moved 500 of his staff to Mittelwerk and, in what could be the smartest move of his life, hid the plans for the rockets in an old mine shaft.  Eventually, he managed to contact the Americans and was immediately co-opted, along with his hidden blueprints and his technical specialists, to the United States.

442px-Kennedy_vonbraun_19may63_02It mattered not a jot to his new American employers that von Braun was an SS officer, a member of the Nazi party, and a participant in the mass-murder of slaves. What mattered was that he was a gifted scientist-engineer, and he and his Nazi scientists were going to get the Yanks into space before the rest of his Nazi scientists, the ones captured by the Russians, could do it.

He went on to have a hugely-successful career, directing the development of the Saturn rocket that put men on the moon, and he ended up as Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning at NASA.

Not bad for an old Nazi war criminal.

When he retired, he became Vice President for Engineering and Development at Fairchild Industries, the aerospace company, located, ironically enough, at Germantown, Maryland, and also a board member of Daimler-Benz, another company heavily involved with Nazi death-camps and slave labour.

 

 

 

This was what Tom Lehrer had to sing about him:

And of course, who could forget Peter Sellers’s Dr Strangelove parody?

 

 

 

 


  56 Responses to “Wernher von Braun: It Isn’t Rocket Surgery”

Comments (54) Pingbacks (2)
  1.  

    I asked the Problem Husband about him. He used to be the main spokesman for NASA whenever they were in the news. He was on telly all the time smoking cigarettes and was considered a genius over here. Nobody had a clue who he was and what he’d done. Politics makes filthy bedfellows.

    “SS Sturmbannführer Dr Baron Wernher Magnus Maximilian von Braun”. Either he had a very small willie or he was invented by A.A. Milne for a rhyming couplet.

  2.  

    The Problem Husband used to be the main spokesman for NASA?

  3.  

    I don’t think he was the only useful Nazi got out of Germany by the Yanks. I think they had a special ‘extraction unit’ for that purpose.

  4.  

    Really liked this article. Thanks Bock

  5.  

    Good one Bock.
    You gave my morning a bad start. I know so much and constantly find out I know nothing.
    I’ve just had a look at Speer’s book about the man.
    I don’t know what else to say without writing a thesis!

  6.  

    You’ve got to love a reformed character…

  7.  

    And to think that we willingly let in this criminal – whom we can prove had direct ties to, oh, genocide, and we made such a big stink about the guy who was 17 and a guard (and we couldn’t link him directly to any dead bodies)?

    WTF?

    Priorities, anyone?

  8.  

    Dr. W. Braun was a dedicated genius. He got his Ph.D at the age of 22! He became addicted to space and rocketry when his father bought him “Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen” (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space) by rocket pioneer Hermann Oberth. The writer became his childhood idol and later his teacher as well.

    Amongst his comments about his NSDAP membership von Braun has said:

    “…I was officially demanded to join the National Socialist Party. At this time (1937) I was already technical director of the Army Rocket Center at Peenemünde … My refusal to join the party would have meant that I would have to abandon the work of my life. Therefore, I decided to join. My membership in the party did not involve any political activities … in Spring 1940, one SS-Standartenführer (SS Colonel) Müller … looked me up in my office at Peenemünde and told me that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had sent him with the order to urge me to join the SS. I called immediately on my military superior … Major-General W. Dornberger. He informed me that … if I wanted to continue our mutual work, I had no alternative but to join”

    He was NOT a criminal elisa! He was dedicated to his work. Criminal was SS and hitler! He was forced to work for him ’cause all the sources, even berlin university were under SS. He was even arrested for refusing to join the party.

    Please read about him before labeling him a criminal! I’ll tell you a good start –
    FROM NAZIS TO NASA: THE LIFE OF WERNHER VON BRAUN by Ward, R. J.

  9.  

    Jasjeet: You seem to be saying that he had no choice, that he had to use slave labour from extermination camps, or risk his career. Is that what you’re suggesting?

  10.  

    Jasjeet, dedication to one’s work is great, tremendous even. But if I suspected for a minute I was a party to crimes against humanity, or in any way part of the machine enabling it, I think I could put my career plans on hold for a few years.

    Being a genius does not give you carte blanche to be an arse. On the contrary, he was in a wonderful position to decry what he saw going on. His personal desires prevented him from speaking up, he kept his head down and thereby contributed to horrible murder and the most inhumane suffering of his fellow humans. Whatever greatness and ease of life he achieved afterwards does not erase that fact. At best he was a complex character with a mixed legacy, but being a genius does not trump all and he doesn’t deserve to be lionised. Where was his contrition at the role he played as a Nazi? You expect something a lot better than “I vos only following orders” from a genius. Much better to be a human. We don’t need hegemonies for people who will not even admit fully to their wrongdoing.

  11.  

    I see I’ve no need to defend myself.

    Just because he didn’t personally execute people doesn’t mean he isn’t culpable. He willingly worked for the Nazi’s (even if it was, as you point out, potentially to save his life). He could have defected – he was well known enough that his high profile could have saved his life.

    I just find his actions rather amoral, that’s all. Selling himself to the highest bidder with no regard for anyone else…that implies to me that while he may have been brilliant, he was a bit egomanicial and possibly also lacking in empathy (which makes him a sociopath).

  12.  

    And lastly….

    how grand a statement would it have been if he had killed himself in protest of the Nazi government? La La…..

  13.  

    People…I am NOT defending Nazis! Believe me….I still favor Jews of Israel! (Some of u will contradict me here!) schindler list is my fav movie! I Just want to press on the fact that none of us has seen what he went through! He knew he had something that has potential to change the world….he faced a very very difficult dilemma. His choices were not lucrative at all. He knew that hitler would do his deeds with or without him!
    Einstein kind of invented ABomb concept! America killed tens of thousands of Japanese, Iraqis, Afghanis…Can We Blame every scientist in america now for what bush has done?

    Elisa…He was not fond of his life…he would not be working with rockets if he was! His teacher was killed in an explosion of fuel! HE WANTED TO LIVE TO COMPLETE HIS DREAM OF BUILDING A SPACECRAFT! Even when his V2’s were used to carry bombs he was not happy! But his country was at war! Mindset is always altered in these situations. HE did make a mistake but an honest one! and if he had killed himself…we would not have known him at all! Rocket science could have suffered! And, when he was in SS..his profile was not HIGH! He was humiliated and mocked by Nazi generals in front of his team everyday!

    Bock..I may be wrong but I think people (slaved by nazis) who got work had a better chance of living since they were ‘useful’ to nazis. He like Oscar, just helped them…..it was army which killed them. He did not put his career first….He was offered very high SS Ranks after V2 success, he refused. HE was passionate about rockets only…that is why he even went to america!

    He never said that what he did for nazis was right….and he was always sorry for that! even though he just did research…like albert E.,newton etc….his work was used by wrong people.

    I just think that few individuals do not belong to country, religion, race etc…..they belong to the world…to all…they serve a higher purpose. They do make mistakes…but who does not? We CANNOT compare Dr. Braun with hitler/bush/osama…..THIS IS SO WRONG.

  14.  

    problemchildbride (I feel guilty to address you like this! This is a funny ‘name’ Hahahahhaa)

    You are right! He had a mixed legacy. Great intentions….took wrong shelter…and later recovered!

    I think that Britain, America, even Russia would have used him to develop missiles if they knew him and if he was their citizen! He just happened to be a German! ….like I happen to an Indian…Hahahahahahahahaha….Good Night for now people…..

  15.  

    Even some jews were able to leave nazi germany, why did this scientist do the same. his work seems more important to him that the victims of the holocaust he was a party to.

    Einstein invented the A-bomb, at least he didn’t sell it to the nazis.

  16.  

    squid, in my eyes Nazis, Americans, British, Spanish, Japanese, Muslims all are equally responsible for causing mass killings at different times.

    And, dear I am sorry to point out that Mr. Einstein DID sell the bomb! He also immigrated to US.

  17.  

    Jasjeet Singh is right!
    Our only defence is that we (British) weren’t as enthusiastic about it as some and usually, usually, not always, revisited our actions and condemned them that carried them out. We are a country that loves to pick over our past imperial crimes, it’s one of our redeeming features. We do have some, still, but you’d better hurry because they’re going fast.

    Let me tell you a little about Wernher von Braun.

    He was a total CUNTBAG

  18.  

    It’s funny that history seems to be in a continual loop; think on this – don’t all nations take turn being the imperialist, colonialization, power hungry despots?

    Hm. Venetians ruled the seas of the Mediterranean for a few hundred years. Then you had the Ottoman Empire…and Charlamagne, and then you had a nice period of Religious Fervor, then we had that nice thing called Colonialism – we in the Americas have been owned at times by Spain, France and Britian. Now the U.S. takes over it’s plot for world dominance!

    But like any true empire, eventually the empire will fall. ‘Tis only a matter of time; and who will step into that vaccuum?

  19.  

    I’m not listing my events chronologically….and I know it :-)

  20.  

    It is rather interesting that while some get the “crimes against humanity” treatment and get prosecuted (obviously not of any use, technically speaking) for show, others “transformed” into dutiful citizens in “developed” countries. Way to go, what can I say.
    I personally see no need to explore stars with rockets, spaceships and what not, when our own world is falling apart with so many problems.
    Bock, this was very informative. Your post comes about 17 hours after I watched Schindler’s List. Well, some people DID have a choice, didn’t they?

    Thank you for the post.

  21.  

    He was a German defending his country, what’s wrong with that? Applying the same logic of your article have you any criticism of Bomber Harris? Or the second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki? War is horrible and brings out the worst in humanity but I feel your article is one-sided in its treatment of Von Braun.

  22.  

    You don’t seem to have read the piece, Martin. It’s about slave labour and death camps. Not V-2 rockets.

    Or perhaps you think it was acceptable to use the slaves of Dora-Mittelbau in the Mittelwerk?

    Actually, Martin, on second thoughts, fuck off you Nazi prick.

  23.  

    Ah yes, “Operation Paperclip”.

    Seeking the spoils of war, American and Russian teams combed the embers of the Third Reich for military and scientific treasures. Having witnessed German technological strength firsthand, the former allies cast their nets wide for the minds that engineered the Reich’s weaponry. Cutting-edge designs discovered at Peenemunde and other facilities convinced the Americans that discarding German scientists would be at best a waste, at worst an open door for the Russians. Thus, President Truman authorized Operation Paperclip in 1946, to bring German scientists to the States.

    There was a catch: Truman expressly forbade entry to former Party members or vocal supporters of Hitler’s regime. Hearing this, the State Department and Allen Dulles expunged the records of top Nazi scientists and rewrote their dossiers. By 1955, over 700 former Nazi scientists were granted American citizenship right under Truman’s nose. Wernher von Braun, inventor of the V2 missile, was made director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Paperclip admitted low-level Mengeles who experimented on POWs and concentration camp prisoners, as well as high-ranking SS and Gestapo agents, all of whom found prominent posts at NASA, the Pentagon, private aerospace and medical firms, and research institutions.

    Of course Paperclip was tiny compared to the Ratlines (“Operation Sunrise”) Tens of thousands of wanted Nazis, holding Red Cross-authorized transit documents provided by the Vatican, shuffled through Italy, Austria, France, and Spain……. Organised by Karl Wolff (SS general in charge of the Italian sector) and Licio Gelli.
    Gelli arranged, through the newly ordained Bishop Giovanni Montini, the network of “ratlines” for wanted Nazis to escape

    And who was Bishop Giovanni Montini? Well he’s remembered by a different name…….

    ……………..Pope Paul VI.

  24.  

    I’m sure you know who Licio Gelli was.

  25.  

    Gruss,

    At least I did more in my life than all you wanky marxist scumbags combined. x1000. Spoiled bitches. Of course the Irish are known as the work-shy negroes of europe. Have you people actually contributed anything useful to humans lately? “Paddy is a moron. Spud thick Mick.
    Breeds like a rabbit. Thinks with his prick.
    Anything floors him if he can’t fight or drink it.
    Round them up in Ulster. Tow it out and sink it.”…..I think that quote sums it up. Of course I have to write in English to you, you know, in your former master’s language.

    Tschuss!……………und Heileige!

    Alle Raeder mussen fur den Sieg!

    Yours,

    SS-Sturmbannführer und Administrator for Planning/NASA. Dr. Wehrner von Braun

  26.  

    Sad poor bastard

  27.  

    Gruss,

    That’s it? “Sad poor bastard?” I guess the irish work ethic still stands then.

    Bye!/Tshuss

    Herr Von Braun.

  28.  

    This particular racist is in Scotland, surprisingly enough, or at least, that’s what its IP address indicates:

    82.45.187.211
    2008/06/10 at 9:30 AM.

  29.  

    Very interesting line of responses on von Braun. My background is that of an English teacher in the U.S. (a grateful recipient of VonBraun’s intellect that truly enabled the U.S. to eventually get to the moon). I really try to look at things as objectively as I can and if I don’t, I don’t mind it being pointed out to me. So feel free.

    In response to the vitriol being poured out on von Braun I think it is important to recognize that all our comments are coming from the perspective of hindsight, which is usually 20/20. We, of course, already know all the horrors of Hitler’s Germany. von Braun, along with most German’s at the start of Hitler’s reign, did not; since they had not begun yet. And the ones that did, such as the euthenaisa programs at mental hospitals, were kept under wraps.

    What people in Germany did understand was that Hitler and the NSDAP (What we call the NAZI party) had ended the street battles with the communist party (funded by Stalin). Along with the peace that took place was a rapid increase in prosperity that Hitler brought to Germany.

    After the defeat of WWI and the humiliating peace treaty that was inflicted on her, many Germans were embittered against both France and Britain; especially since they thought they were surrendering under the auspices of U.S. President Wilson’s 14 points. French and British negotiators would have nothing to do with Wilson’s “14 points” and so inflicted a harsh and recriminatory treaty on Germany. Even Ferdinand Foch, a high echelon French General from WWI said, “this isn’t a treaty, it is an armistice for twenty years!” (Look it up, he said it.) This really laid the groundwork for German antagonism towards those 2 countries for WWII.

    von Braun, who was a Junker, a member of the Prussian aristocracy, whose father was a baron and whose whole class was dedicated to service to the state, came into contact with the Nazi party, he felt he was serving the German people, not Adolf Hitler; as some fanatical followers of Hitler did. In war, when your country is threatened; which is what Hitler (who controlled the press) said was the case, you serve the state and try to defeat your enemies. In a post-war statement, von Braun (in referring to his actions at the rocket complex he oversaw at Peenemunde), “But war is war, and because my country found itself at war, I had the conviction that I did not have the right to bring further moral viewpoints to bear. My duty was to help win the war, whether I had any sympathy for the government or not.” A sentiment that many Britain’s held during the Boer war, when many thousands of Boer women and children were rounded up into concentration camps and died by the thousands due to malnutrition and disease.

    While von Braun’s V-2 rockets did kill thousands of London civilians, this pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands that British and American bombs killed in Germany because of Britain’s “Bomber” Harris’s desire to bomb German cities to weaken civilian resolve for the war.

    Nothing happens in a vacuum. Events are always connected somehow. I believe von Braun, whose main desire was for man to get into space, became enmeshed with a regime that would enable that; who would give him the resources to help him toward that dream, but the state wanted part of that dream for it’s own purposes, (though they didn’t give a shit about space and arrested von Braun for a short time to make him understand that fact).

    I think he slowly began to see what type of people he was dealing with but eventually, it was too late to do much about it. There was at least one instance where he tried to get special treatment for concentration camp labor that was directly involved with scientific work, such as a French physicist named Charles Sadron who said of an encounter with von Braun at Dora,

    ” He expresses to me in measured and courteous terms, his regret at seeing a French professor in such a state of misery, then proposes that I come work in his laboratory. To be sure, there is no question of accepting. I refuse bluntly. Von Braun excused himself, smiling as he left. I will learn later that , despite my refusal, he tried several times to better my lot, but to no avail.”

    I would just end by saying an old American Indian saying that roughly translates, ” You can’t judge another man until you walk a mile in his moccasins.” You really need to look at the context of how events unfolded in his life before you could truly say, “What would I have done?” Instead of looking comfortably from the comfort of 20/20 hindsight and smugly condemn him.

  30.  

    I was with you right to the last line. It’s a pity that you use the word “smugly” to describe those who criticise collaborators with genocide, which is what von Braun was. He might well have had misgivings, as Speer did, but he participated nevertheless. If anything, he was more culpable, being better informed.

  31.  

    Kerry: I can’t respond to you if you send emails directly to me. Please direct comments through the site.

  32.  

    Sorry, I know “smug” is a loaded word but it accurately describes us when we criticize others when we haven’t looked closely at their motivations. Websters Dictionary defines it as “contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority OR correctness.” When we’re cutting down somebody or something without having looked thoroughly into it then we’re feeling “confidently correct” in our beliefs; i.e. “smug.” While there is a negative connotation to it, I think the image brought up by the word is worse then the actual definition. As a former fundamentalist Christian I’ve definitely been smug before but what can you do? Nobody’s 100% right all the time.

  33.  

    Having said all that, and I do feel sympathetic to von Braun after having read Michael Neufeld’s, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War (a 2007 published work that really is exhaustively researched and as far as I see totally objective) I still think the Tom Lehrer song and video you posted is hilarious and I’ve been sharing it with friends. Actually, I think I’m going to watch it again right now.

  34.  

    Dear Bock:
    Reading your essay of Warner Von Braun. Very interesting but you need to be corrected on one item.
    In your website You post a still of the film, Dr, Strangelove. You imply that Peter Sellers (as Dr, Strangelove) is portraying Von Braun. This is incorrect. Stanley Kubrick who directed the film, was having Peter Sellers (as Strangelove) actually portray Dr. Edward Teller. The father of the Hydrogen Bomb.
    Unfortunatly Von Braun was not the only high ranking nazi scientist who helped us beat the soviets to the moon. You can thank a little known presidential directive of the Truman Administration called Operation Paperclip that allowed germans with questionable nazi pasts to come to the united states.

  35.  

    Einstein did not “create” the atomic bomb. Read your history.

  36.  

    Werner Von Braun was a great man. The author is not fit to lick the soles of Von Braun’s shoes. He
    probably cheers every rocket lobbed by the muslim cockroaches into Israel.

  37.  

    Plenty of historical figures, who contributed to modern society, have very unpleasant aspects of their lives.
    I dont see any point in being judgemental.

    Save your ire for the ones who are active at the moment.

  38.  

    Dave — Let me be clear. When you tell me to save my ire, are you instructing me not to write about Nazis?

  39.  

    I am saying – you are better off writing about the current incarnations.

  40.  

    Dave — I think you should leave it up to me what I write about.

  41.  

    Fine – but to be frank – you wasted your time with this one.
    it was pointless and says nothing new – it is little better than a copy and paste.

    You dont mind constructive criticism , do you?

  42.  

    I don’t mind constructive criticism, but this isn’t even criticism. It’s whataboutery.

    Is there any reason why I can’t write about the present-day people, and also about people like Von Braun? Are you worried about the time I put into it?

    As regards your cut-and-paste remark, maybe you could provide a link to the things you’ve written yourself. I look forward to reading your articles on a wide range of subjects.

  43.  

    “Are you worried about the time I put into it?” – to be frank , you could have spent a bit of time fixing the typesetting – “SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Otto Förschner, ”

    While your ” lets see your stuff then” point is fair enough , it is a bit hypocritical considering the piece on Gavin Duffy. You cant have it both ways Bock

    Also – articles like this just aren’t worth writing. Instead of “writing” articles like this – how about just putting
    up a link to wikipedia.

  44.  

    That isn’t a typographical error. That’s a UTF-8 problem, to do with reinstating a backup, but I expect you knew that already.

    Didn’t you?

  45.  

    Why should I care how it happened?
    Why didn’t you edit it to make sure it doesnt happen? Better to write it without the umlauts rather than have garbled text.

  46.  

    Dave, whether you noticed it or not, I don’t work for you. I’m not here to entertain you. I’m not here to please you, and if you don’t like my choice of subjects, it isn’t a problem for me.

    I’ll write what I want to write, even if you disappprove, and if you want to waste your time complaining about it, that’s your choice.

    I really don’t give a rat’s arse.

  47.  

    You flatter yourself with the word “write”- that is all I am saying.

    I am beginning to think I should give this blogging stuff a go – because it must be a dawdle if you can get away with putting up stuff like this.

    In fairness, not all of your articles are this bad.

  48.  

    well this article is Straight jewish propaganda if you really did know anything about Von Braun you would know he is the farurthest thing from a nazi

  49.  

    That’s right. Jewish propaganda about the Jews murdered at Dora Mittelbau in support of Braun’s rocket project.

    There’s only one answer to people like you. Fuck off.

  50.  

    Could be worse John, it could be Gay jewish propangda and I’ve a feeling that would really set someone like you off.

  51.  

    Just wanted to make it clear that I am not the Steve who made the retarded remark at #36, as a semi-regular ranter on these forums I’d hate to be confused with someone else, time for a new handle methinks.

  52.  

    I make a point of making my audiences (older ones-high school/college, anyway) aware of the ‘minds behind the mission’ that put us on the moon in 1969-1972. For all of you, three simple words: knowledge is power.
    Right or wrong, it is what it is. Terrorist, or ‘backseat buddy’ in a motorcade w/ the US President?
    Depends on who is writing the history, I suppose. And whose propaganda is blasted into your ears and heart.
    Final clip-part six of the TV program ‘Mars and Beyond’, which shows Von Braun/Von Stolinger detailing the plans for a large scale mission to Mars. Funny how both Goering and Von braun ended up with fibers around the neck…

  53.  

    Interesting discussion.

    I think Von Braun can be described as someone with a noble dream who made a deal with the devil to get it. He did not round up and enslave the political/ethnic prisoners, but he used them to complete his work. Would they have ended up with the same fate at some other concentration/work camp? Probably. However, that does not excuse his collaboration with the Nazi slavers. He was a brilliant man, but he was also a man who compromised doing what is right with what served his personal goals. Many of us are guilty of that same sin over our lives at some point. Of course, I hope most of us would not be so selfish as to achieve our goals using slave labor.

    I don’t think Von Braun should be treated with the kind of comptempt we normally reserve for the truly evil like Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan. Von Braun can be admired for his brillance with the realization that his hero status is diminished by his weakness of pursuing a goal at all cost including using slave labor. Of course if the man had left Germany as soon as the Nazi’s took control and later achieved rocket success in a free country, he truly would be a hero. However, not many people turn out to be true heros. Most people have dark marks on thier record. For example, Franklin Roosevelt is one of the greatest U.S. presidents in my opion. He tried to give work to the poor in the Depression, greatly aided conservation of natural resources, and led the U.S. in the joint effort of the Allies against the Axis powers. However, he incarcerated thousands of Japanese Americans in concentration camps based on nationality rather than evidence of enemy colaboration. Most were released in healthy condition after the war, but they had lost their land and business during the internment. That stains his legacy but not as much as Von Braun’s is stained by the use of slave labor. I still view FDR as hero who had some significant faults. Von Braun can not be considered a hero, but he can be admired as the man who got humanity to the moon and helped give us the spinoff technology.

    I live fairly close to the Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama USA. Von Braun designed rockets there for many years and is revered there. I think a healthy addition to the local visitor center would be an exhibit discussing the man’s mixed legacy including discussion of his use of slave labor.

  54.  

    Bock, I’d highly recommend a book called The Griffin (by Arthur Kramish), which tells the true story of Paul Rosbaud. He was a high profile scientist with connections to the very top scientists of his time including Neils Bohr, Cockroft, and of course Von Braun and the very elite of Nazi society. From that position, he actively and secretly fought against Naziism and his efforts led to the leaking of the blueprints for the V2 rocket and detailed analysis of it’s design and manufacture at Peenamunde. He was also critical to Germany not developing nuclear weapons in advance of the Allies. Rosbaud is a largely forgotten hero of the fight against fascism in Europe.

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