The other “father” of the space program in the United States of America, a man from Germany, Wernher von Braun, “made what amounted to a Faustian bargain for the advance of rocketry,” by joining the Nazi Party and becoming an SS officer!
He claimed he had no choice, arguing that the Gestapo kept a close eye on him, watching him for signs of disloyalty.
However, some of his “contemporaries did manage to resist the fascist regime, often perpetrating small, undramatic acts of slowdown, sabotage, or resistance.”
The Peenemünde team of engineers, lead by Wernher von Braun, “were Hitler loyalists who looked forward to the day when Aryan Germans would have the promised Lebensrum (room to live) granted by conquest of Europe.”
Von Braun later claimed he was “merely an earnest enginner who put his craft above all else.”
“This excuse didn’t prevent him from enjoying his wartime position or being fêted by the Third Reich’s rich and powerful.”
“Von Braun, a colonel in the SS, was deeply complicit in the war crimes at the Mittelwerk and Dora facility” that “was carved inside Kohnstein Mountain, near Nordhausen in the Harz Mountains. Using concentration camp slave labor, they transformed a tunnel complex into a facilty that could produce thousands of V-2s.
Arthur Rudolph, a close colleague of von Braun and chief operations officer at the Mittelwerk V-2 production facility, oversaw the slave labor. He was an ardent Nazi and anti-Semite. Nevertheless he was quietly accepted into the United Sates and granted citizenship in the mid-1950s. Keeping a low profile at Fort Bliss, working in secrecy, he immediately began making contributions to the American rocket program, as did ex-Peenemünder Kurt Debus. Hubertus Strughold, another beneficiary of Operation Paperclip, was a physician who had been the director of the Luftwaffe Institute of Aviation Medicine during the Nazi era was given a a similar job heading the new Air Force of Aviation Medicine, in West Texas.
[Operation Paperclip: a paperclip was placed on the files of those Nazis chosen to work as rocket engineers in the United States of America.]
As Strughold settled in America, quite a liberty to enjoy the privileges of democracy, his former colleagues were facing trial at Nuremberg for war crimes he’d known about.”
Warning! Do not read if sensitive to acts of torture.
In one experiment, Jewish inmates were forced to squat in a chamber as the pressure insde the chamber was altered in a matter of seconds, simulating a depressurized airplane dropping from high altitude. The doctors watched as the prisoners died or permanently lost their minds.
Okay to continue reading after this period.
Werner von Braun’s first public speech, in the United States of America to the El Paso Rotary Club stated:
“It seems to be a law of nature that all novel technical inventions that have a future for civilian use start out as weapons.”
Rocketry entered a new dangerous territory with the development of the first intercontinental ballistic missiles, and Werner von Braun, once again did the sensible thing to lie low and develop his ballistic missiles in Fort Bliss—White Sands for U.S. Army purposes while keeping the moon and beyond in his dreams.
Did he ever think about the pain inflicted to all those who died, or survived, or who were harmed severely by the manufacturing and use in acts of war, by the V-2 rockets he engineered?