Berlin Shows Von Braun's Nazi Roots

By Ap | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 12, 1995 | Go to article overview

Berlin Shows Von Braun's Nazi Roots


Ap, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


A big portrait of Wernher von Braun at a Berlin exhibition isn't intended to lionize the rocket developer. Rather, it's to expose his feet of clay.

Von Braun was a member of the Nazi Party and its elite SS. He built V2 rockets as weapons of mass terror, using slave laborers who were unlikely to survive.

There is no known public expression of his remorse, the exhibit says.

The same Wernher von Braun was named one of the "100 most important Americans of the 20th century" by Life magazine in 1990 for building the rockets that put U.S. astronauts on the moon.

The exhibit profiles von Braun and other Germans who made important scientific contributions to Adolf Hitler's war effort. Most of them escaped punishment.

The Museum for Transport and Technology, which attracts 300,000 visitors a year, put on the display as a reminder of little-known or forgotten wartime activities of Germans who were big post-war successes. It is the museum's way of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the downfall of the Third Reich.

Von Braun, who died in 1977 at age 64, was taken with about 120 other German rocket scientists to the United States after World War II. The Soviets took other German scientists as prisoners. Von Braun, competing with his former co-workers, was the leading force in U.S. space weaponry and exploration.

"But at what price?" asks the catalog for the exhibit, which opened April 5 and runs until Oct. …

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