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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

A true American hero!

Nearly twenty years ago I was contacted by a married couple (both doctors) who lived on the island of Usedom, near the famous WW2 research facility of Peenemunde. Following the end of the Cold War, they were able to visit the test site and look for pieces of the V2 and V1 missiles that were developed there. Over the next couple of years, I bought lots of material, most of which I traded for American space memorabilia: I even sold some of my V2 displays to Apollo Astronaut Tom Stafford for his aerospace museum!

Last night there was a documentary on Freeview about the Apollo Program: an astronaut who was part of the presenting team seemed shocked  to discover that Wernher von Braun, the designer of the Saturn V launch rocket had been a Nazi Major during the war, but - along with many of his colleagues - had been recruited to work on the US space program. He never faced any tribunals, nor was he brought to account for the atrocities committed upon forced labourers at Peenemunde or the production factories at Mittelwerk-Dora-Nordhausen.

Here are a couple of photos of Wernher von Braun that the Doctors sent me: interesting how easily the Nazi SS officer's background was kept a secret from the US public. Remember: this was the man who designed the rockets that launched the first successful US satellite (Explorer 1), the first American into space (Alan Shepard) and the Apollo spacecraft...

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