16.06.

A former SS man who was at the head of the American missile program

A former SS man who was at the head of the American missile program

After the war, the Americans took SS-Sturmbannführer Baron Wernher von Braun and his team and moved them to the United States, to work on the American missile program. In fact, the Americans took a large amount of parts for V-2 missiles from Europe and shipped it all to the US state of New Mexico.

On June 16, 1977, the famous German scientist Wernher von Braun died. He is extremely credited with the development of rocket technology in the 20th century. Namely, he first led German missile projects during the Nazi era and the Third Reich, and after the war he was hired by the Americans to lead their missile program.

Wernher von Braun was born as a German baron, and at the age of about 22 he received his doctorate in physics. After the Nazis came to power in Germany, von Braun joined Hitler’s Nazi Party (NSDAP) as a member with the number 5,738,692. Indeed, in 1940 von Braun even joined the SS. He immediately received the rank of officer, ie he became an SS-Untersturmführer, which corresponds to a lieutenant in the regular army (German: Wehrmacht).

Von Braun gradually progressed in the SS all the way to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer, corresponding to a major in the Wehmacht. However, he later claimed that he did not actually have any role in the SS, but that notifications of promotions only came to him by mail. He claimed to have worn the SS uniform only once. Yet one former SS officer stated that von Braun regularly wore an SS uniform at official meetings.

The most important fruit of von Bruno’s work in Nazi Germany were the famous V-2 missiles (short for Vergeltungswaffe 2). These missiles caused great destruction when they were launched at London and other Allied targets at the end of the war. It looks like over 3,000 of them have been launched.

After the war, the Americans took von Braun and his team and moved them to the United States to work on the American missile program. In fact, the Americans took a large amount of parts for V-2 missiles from Europe and shipped it all to the US state of New Mexico. It was allegedly a quantity that occupied over 300 wagons. Von Braun got a new home at Fort Bliss base, not far from the Mexican border. Given the existing amount of imported V-2 missiles, experiments could begin fairly quickly. Thus, in the USA, the former Nazi V-2 rockets achieved important milestones – the first photo from space was taken with one such rocket, and the first monkey in history was sent into space with the help of V-2.

Von Braun was erased of his Nazi past (NSDAP, SS) by the Americans and forgiven of his sins, but he was in a kind of semi-captivity. He was moved in 1950 from Fort Bliss to Huntsville, Alabama and spent the next 20 years there. It was important for the development of the first American ballistic nuclear missiles. During the 1960s and 1970s von Braun worked at NASA. Of course, this was a crucial time in which the first astronauts were launched into space, and a trip to the moon was made.

At the age of 65, von Braun died in the American city of Alexandria, in the state of Virginia. He is also buried in the same town, and his grave can be seen in the Ivy Hill Cemetery there.

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