Sunday, October 7, 2012

V-1 and V-2 Rockets, Wernher von Braun & Mittlebau-Dora

Otto quipped of this photo of former Nazi, subsequently NASA scientist, Wernher von Braun,
"You figure he'd know better than to hold his hand that way! How heil does it go?"
Source: Deutsche Welle
Von Braun and Kennedy. Wikipedia.

Otto Gross is interested in World War Two history and occasionally sends clippings to the blog.

Otto's previous blog entries, one about his father, a Nazi soldier, and another about Enigma, can be found here and here.

Otto sent along "The V-2: The First Space Rocket," from Deutsche Welle. From that article:

"Nazi propaganda named Pennemünde's rocket the wonder weapon. But instead of wonders, it brought death and destruction to many cities and countries. About 25,000 V-1 and V-2 missiles were fired on cities in Belgium, Britain and France. However, they couldn't change the course of war. During production, more than 20,000 people died - again, mostly laborers forced to work at the site. This means that production resulted in more victims than the bombing itself."

And Otto also sent along this webpage that addresses the forced labor at Pennemunde. From that page:

"A Polish slave-labour survivor of the Dora factory recalls how Wernher von Braun visited the works and seemed 'completely unperturbed' by the piles of corpses. Further evidence exposes the role played by Heinrich Lübke, the former West German federal president, as one of the organisers of Nazi slave labour at Peenemünde and at Dora. For decades, allegations by Communist East Germany that Lübke was a 'war criminal' were dismissed by West Germany as propaganda…

Polish intelligence officers who had been given the reports of tests of the V-1 and V-2 rockets from the Polish underground Home Army, notified the British that they knew where the experiments were conducted, and the British, confident that the Poles could do just about anything, asked if by any chance the Polish underground army could steal one of the V-2s and ship it to England. The Polish underground soldiers did exactly that: they stole the V-2 rocket, one of the most guarded secrets of the Third Reich. They had also stolen one of the earlier models of German rockets, the V-1, and sent it to England."

Here is the Wikipedia page on that Home Army or Armia Krajowa work on the V-2 rocket.

Von Braun was unperturbed by piles of corpses at Mittelbau-Dora. 
From Wikipedia: Supervised by American soldiers, German civilians from the town of Nordhausen bury the corpses of prisoners found at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp in mass graves. Rare colour photograph taken in 1945. 
Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


  1. The true story of the Polish Underground hiding and disassembling an undamaged, crashed test-fired German V-2 rocket, is a fascinating one.

    I have reviewed some books on this subject. To see them, please click on my name in this specific posting. The reviews are part of my Listmania on Polish espionage achievements in WWII and the Cold War.

    1. Jan, you have been so busy. Thanks. This is a most chilling example of the double standards. It is the slave labourers who get vilified and blamed - but Wernher Von Braun gets a warm welcome from the powers-that-be. And is still, as far as I know, considered to have been an honoured citizen of America.

      But doesn't it also illustrate that this vilification of Poles/Polonia/Poland has nothing to do with anything we have done or failed to do.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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