Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wernher von Braun's photo album

Rocket engine assembly in V-2 pilot product at Peenemunde, 1943.
Motorized V-2 battery with 3 launchers set up experimentally at Peenemunde, Spring 1944.
Both pictures courtesy of Wernher von Braun, reproduced in Carsbie C. Adams.  Space Flight.  (New York:  Mc-Graw-Hill Book Co., Inc., 1958.)  There are quite a few of Dr. von Braun's photos in this book.

There seems to be substantial evidence that he was a Nazi, occupied a high rank in the SS, and was complicit in the use of slave labour to build these terrible weapons.  All this was forgotten when his services were needed in the U.S. to counter the Communist threat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No, he joined the Nazi party to keep his job after being urged three times to join. That is not a real Nazi - that's a guy who wants to keep his job. The real Nazis joined without having to be asked.

Ditto the SS rank, which was essentially thrust upon him by Himmler, because Himmler was trying trying to take over the V-2 program. And when the second most powerful man in a fascist dictatorship says, "I'm giving you a commission," you don't say no. The evidence indicates that he only wore the uniform once or twice - notably, when Himmler himself paid a visit to Peenemunde.

His balking at Himmler's efforts to move the V-2 from Army control to SS control led to his being imprisoned by the Gestapo for two weeks, and it took the intervention of his boss, Army Gen. Dornberger, and Albert Speer, to get him out - on probationary status.

He had no responsibility for moving V-2 production underground or using slave labor. "Complicity" here seems to mean "didn't martyr himself even though it would have changed absolutely nothing."

I'd like to see how you and other oh-so-comfortable commentators would have done in similar circumstances. Oh, wait, that's right - you never had to face those decisions. Moral arrogance much?