Wernher von Braun

“How many things have been denied one day, only to become realities the next”. (Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon: 1865 and Round the Moon: 1870)

“I think that we’re going to the Moon because it is in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It is in the nature of his deep inner soul… we’re required to do these things, just as salmon swim upstream”. (Neil Armstrong 1930- 2012)

“Dr. Faust: ‘Who are you then?’ ‘I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good”. (Mephistopheles: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust : Part One)

Those of us of a certain age may remember a time when those families who had television sets, looked forward to Disneyland’s Sunday night television specials; including a number of space-oriented segments known as “Tomorrowland” . At that time my parents were skeptical as to the educational value of much of what was offered on those few black and white channels available on our small-screen wooden console. Nevertheless, we were encouraged to watch every Tomorrowland episode because it was deemed to be botheducational and scientific, as well as entertaining, and it was – all of that, and more. Disney’s star presenter was the charismatic, movie star handsome, Dr. Wernher von Braun, compelling evangelist for humanity’s (mostly American) glorious future in outer space exploration. Being a child, of course, I had no inkling of the murky complexities surrounding this man’s life and work, and how this admittedly inspiring German scientist had become an American hero.

Wernher von Braun’s remarkable career trajectory, from Hitler’s Germany to General Eisenhower’s post-war America is a tale in itself; and yet there is much more to this story. Wernher Magnus Maximillian, Baron von Braun (1912-1977), was born in Wirsitz, Province of Posen, now in Poland then part of the German Empire. The aristocratic Prussian was an accomplished musician, and composer, who took lessons from Paul Hindemith, as well as being credited as the Father of Rocket Science. Von Braun initially came to prominence as a central figure within the Third Reich’s rocket development program. More specifically he is credited with the success of their V2 combat rocket (Vengeance Weapon 2) during the European phase of World War II, that terrorized British and other cities, including Antwerp and later Liege in Belgium. Germany’s V2 was the world’s first long range missile as well as the first to reach the fringes of outer space.

During the war, von Braun was a member of the Nazi elite SS (Schutzstaffel or Protection Squadron) and held the rank of Sturmbannfuhrer (Major). His most important research and development of Nazi weapons of mass destruction began in 1937, as technical director of a laboratory station in Peenemuende, a small village along a remote stretch of Baltic coast, using and abusing thousands of slave laborers. After an Allied bombing raid in 1943, much of the weapons development was moved into the notorious concentration camp, Mittelbau-Dora (1943-1945), which held some 32,471 prisoners who were relentlessly subjected to extreme cruelty. Originally a sub-camp of Buchenwald, Dora and it’s 30 satellite camps (where over 20,000 died) was located in Central Germany near the Harz Mountain town of Nordhausen, about 125 miles south of Berlin. Overseen by the SS, this evil apparatus consisted of a vast military-industrial complex which included an extensive network of underground tunnels and storage depot facilities. The subterranean Mittelwerk factory was also located here, constructed and then staffed with skeletal inmates who labored under inexpressible, inhuman, beyond Dantesque conditions, where machine parts went in and rockets and corpses came out.

While he has expressed both shame and regret, it is a fact that Von Braun was among this SS installation’s overlord visitors on at least 10-15 occasions. Moreover, he sent his younger brother Magnus into Dora’s underground factory to supervise production of missile guidance mechanisms, as he later explained, in order to keep him from the front of an already lost war. (Wayne Biddle, Dark Side of the Moon: Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich and the Space Race,2009)

In retrospect, it could be argued that Von Braun was a less than a fanatical, blind loyal Nazi, who nevertheless managed an ambivalent and complex relationship to Germany’s Third Reich. In March 1944 he was suddenly arrested by Gestapo agents and detained on undisclosed charges by the dreaded Reich’s Chief of Political Police; mass murderer, notoriously perverse and sadistic Heinrich Himmler,. Later in this Kafkaesque affair, he learned that loyal National Socialist party informants suspected him of being a communist sympathizer. Even worse, it was alleged that he gave more time and attention to future peacetime projects in precedence over war production tasks. Release was granted only after Master Planning Architect and Reich’s Armaments Minister, Albert Speer intervened with Der Fuhrer on his behalf; arguing that von Braun’s knowledge and leadership- expertise was indispensable. (J.C. Fest, Speer: The Final Verdict, 2001). Duly cautioned, von Braun quietly returned to his rocket research and weapons development. One insightful biographer concluded that salient facts of Von Braun’s life and work, are also the symbolic of temptations offered to scientists and other innovators, to work on weapons of mass destruction and other projects of unknown and potentially nefarious outcomes. In the name of safety and survival, duty to one’s country, as well as generous financial reward, and those precious resources necessary to carry on with the research closest to one’s heart; these individuals will agree to work for evil regimes. (Michael J. Neufeld, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space: Engineer of War, 2007)

As Germany’s Thousand Year Reich ended in rubble, our alliance with the Stalinist-Soviets was increasingly frayed. Von Braun had no desire to be captured by the rapidly advancing Russians, who like the Americans, were on a deadly serious treasure-hunt for scientific booty; to be co-opted, as soon as possible into their own military-industrial agendas. Without much difficulty, von Braun and his brother arranged to surrender to the Allied Forces Eventually, he and some 1,600 scientists, aerospace engineers, technicians, medical doctors, research chemists and other unspecified German recruits were whisked on over to the USA under auspices of the then secret, and still controversial, “Project Paperclip”. Originally known as code name “Overcast”, this program was authorized by President Harry Truman in August 1945, along with a strong stipulation that no one with a serious Nazi past was to be included. This was immensely problematic given the fact that many of our trophy conscripts were ardent Nazis and known war criminals, who were now deemed essential for our national security interests. (Bob Ward, Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher von Braun, 2005)

As is still the case, military intelligence and our Department of Defense determined to override a White House directive, and “paper clipped” special documents to many questionable dossiers. As early as 1946 when some aspects of Paperclip began to be disclosed, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and others registered objections to this “really bad idea”. Scientist, Hans Bethe, who fled the Nazi’s, was moved to ask, “Do we want science at any price?” Critics who persisted were soon labeled “unpatriotic” and possible “communist sympathizers”. As the project evolved, German experts in aerospace dynamics, supersonic-rockets, inter-continental ballistic missiles, jet aircraft, stealth technology, electronics, eugenics and genetic research, hardened armor, nerve gas, biological warfare, weaponized vaccines, radiation medicine, and mind control were assimilated into our increasingly militarized scientific and intelligence community. Questions still remain as to exactly who was exploiting who under “Operation Paperclip”. (Annie Jacobsen, Operation Paperclip, 2014)

As the post war, now Cold War, missile-based arms race evolved into an emerging Space Race, Von Braun was stationed at the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico and later the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in racially-segregated Huntsville, Alabama. The charming young scientist and his attractive family were soon assimilating into American culture, which is not so surprising given that the largest ethnic group in this country is of Germanic descent, as was our president at that time. Nevertheless, the years between 1947 and 1957 were difficult as the media continued to dwell upon Von Braun’s Nazi past. But, then on October 4, 1957 his fortunes took a sudden and dramatic turn when the Russian’s announced a successful launch of their Sputnik (Russian for satellite), which was now orbiting the planet. This was both a shock and severe blow to American pride, since the Space Race was not only about technological advances but also a contest for ideological superiority between capitalism and communism. Americans began to panic, and educators were blamed for poorly prepared students in science and mathematics courses. Rocket engineers were taunted with jokes such as the, “Sputnik Cocktail: one part vodka and two parts sour grapes.”

President Eisenhower initially attempted to downplay the Russian achievement with a comment that the Soviet’s had merely “put one small ball in the air”. Then, and very soon thereafter, on November 3, 1957, Russia launched Sputnik II. This second version weighed 1,116 lbs (508 kg) and carried the first living being into space; the unfortunate canine Laika, a Moscow street dog who died hours after launch from overheating. Now the White house was faced with two successful satellite launches just in time for the widely publicized Red Square celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. For many, this could be likened to a kind of “Pearl Harbor of space” and there was a national call to action. Von Braun experienced an intense frustration as his mostly German Army team, was bypassed and the U.S. Navy’s Project Vanguard was tasked with launching America’s first satellite. (Matthew Brzezinski, Red Moon Rising, 2007). Public relations continued to worsen as Vanguard’s spectacular failures were widely televised and mercilessly lampooned by the media, and our satellites variously labeled as our “Flopnik”, “Kaputnik”, “Oopsnik” and “Stayputnik”. (Alan Boyle, MSNBC, October 4,1997). In the wake of these humiliations and losses of prestige, von Braun’s Army Redstone team was finally given the go-ahead.

Shortly thereafter, on January 31, 1958, in the defining event of von Braun’s career, his team launched America’s first satellite: Explorer One. This major win for Team USA also launched the German scientist into A-list celebrity status. The telegenic and genial Prussian aristocrat was soon appearing on TV with Walt Disney as an enthusiastic embodiment of the New Space Age. In 1960, he was the subject of a somewhat hagiographic biopic, “I Aim for the Stars” Yet, it is interesting to note that this documentary touches on the Faustian theme of a “devil’s bargain”. In a fictionalized scene, his mother questions the wisdom of the young Von Braun’s involvement with weaponized rockets. “Long ago, they said that witches made a pact with the Devil so that they could fly on their broomsticks”. The son replies: “My broomsticks fly without the Devil’s help. But, if they didn’t I guess I’d be willing to sign with him”. While this scene is fiction, Von Braun’s nephew recounts that when Von Braun’s mother was dying and unable to sleep, she would recite thousands of lines from Goethe’s masterwork, Faust, Parts One and Two, all from memory. Like Goethe’s Dr. Faust, one could imagine Wernher von Braun bargaining with an emissary of the Devil to carry out his engineering projects, while rationalizing them as being for the greater good of mankind. (Neufeld, p.348)

While the biopic and Disney’s episodes were generally well received, von Braun’s critics were not to be silenced, as Mort Sahl quipped: “Wernher von Braun: I aim for the stars, but sometimes I hit London”. Satirical songwriter Tom Lehrer joined in with a clever tune about allegiance and expedience:

Once the rockets are up,
Who cares where they come down
That’s not my department
Says Wernher von Braun.

In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Stangelove, which originally had a German title, (Merkwurdigliebe) he lampoons the motives of America’s imported Germans in the U.S. missile programs. While many assumed that Peter Sellers’ mad Strangelove character was modeled on Henry Kissinger, the actor said no, it was Wernher von Braun. Nazi references were made clear with the final line: “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!”. (Michael Seth Starr, Peter Sellers a Film History, 1991).

Much later in 1970, Norman Mailer expressed widespread Jewish skepticism about von Braun, now a U.S. citizen, as an authentic American hero: Still what a grip he has on the jugular of the closet missionary in every WASP”.

Von Braun was eventually transferred to NASA and served as the agency’s first director from 1960-1970. During his tenure there he was able to finally realize his lifelong dream to be able to help mankind land on the Moon.Together with his team, he received many international accolades when their Saturn V rocket successfully launched and carried the six -astronaut Apollo 11crew up and onto the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, along with a safe return. Somewhat mysteriously, he maintained that he and his team did not deserve all the credit for this achievement. With a wink and a nod in the direction of a pile of classified folders on extraterrestrial reports, he simply said, “We had help”. Later in Germany, Herman Oberth, his former mentor and long time colleague was much more specific about the Moon landing project. “We had help from people from other worlds”. In subsequent interviews von Braun expressed optimism about manned missions to Mars.

As von Braun was said to have an ambivalent and complicated relationship with the Third Reich, the same might be said of his final years at NASA. As a result, in 1972, at age 60, discouraged by budget cuts and weary from bureaucratic squabbles, von Braun retired from NASA and joined the corporate world of Fairchild Industries in Germantown, Maryland. However, this career change to become a vice president of engineering and development in an aerospace firm proved to be short after he was diagnosed with the first of several cancers in1975.Von Braun had always been an enthusiastic supporter of science education for young people. While at Fairchild he met Dr. Carol Rosin, then a schoolteacher, who was to become his personal assistant and later spokesperson toward the end of his life when he was too weak to travel or even speak publically.

There will always be those who maintain that there is no such thing as an ex-Nazi, and that von Braun should have, somehow or other, single-handedly put a stop to the ongoing abuses at Nazi slave labor factory installations. However, any serious student of history would know that, not only would such a hypothetical gesture have failed, but von Braun and his family would have been brutally disappeared forever. Von Braun had a different, much different and ultimately larger fate, and my sense is that he knew this on the deepest possible level. In this respect, Dr.Carol Rosin reveals some little known aspects of von Braun’s character and concerns during his later years. By most accounts, he was a loving and attentive husband and father, a lover of life and also a devout Lutheran capable of profound remorse. Astronaut John Glenn recalled a visit to von Braun’s home and his surprise in finding the scientist’s library filled with books on religion, comparative religion and philosophy. In essence, von Braun’s allegiance was to humanity, all of us, rather than to any one nation, and what he hoped would become our collective interstellar destiny. And yet, according to Dr. Rosin, he was deeply troubled by issues that he knew that he would not live to address and he passed these concerns, as a mandate, onto her.

Carol Rosin became the first woman corporate manager at Fairchild Industries (1974-1977). She later founded the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space in Washington, D.C. and has testified before Congress and the Senate on many occasions about space-based weapons. Now a Space and Missile Defense Consultant, she has revealed covert plans told to her by Dr. von Braun, who held one of the highest “need to know” security clearances, as to how space-based weapons were to be sold to the public. As he said, more than once, this is diabolic and way beyond spin, “It is a lie, all lies” …a canopy of lies over a veil of secrecy. Wernher von Braun, she maintains, who always spoke of plural universes, was vehemently and desperately opposed to the weaponization of space. (peaceinspace.org)

During her testimony at Dr.Steven Greer’s Disclosure Project in December of 2000, she revealed Dr. von Braun’s distress at nefarious hidden agendas to weaponize space under four entirely bogus threats – specifically, a “Commie” Russian ”killer satellite” threat which actually culminated in Star Wars; so called missile shields, “terrorist”, “rogue nations” and “third world crazies” attacks, asteroid and comet impacts and finally a false flag, hoaxed ET enemy invasion, the final scare. All in all, he was deeply troubled about this ongoing series of malicious scare tactics designed to bamboozle the public to give up both nationalist loyalties and personal privacy in return for global security from hostile and predatory “outside forces”.
Carol Rosin recalls and testifies, under oath, as to how often Werner von Braun openly wept, often and bitterly, about these profoundly deceptive and destructive lies.

(disclosureproject.org) For this and many other reasons, this remarkable man’s life is not consistent with any profile of a soulless sociopath or die-hard Nazi. As Goethe knew and wrote: “Character develops itself, (over time) within the stream of Life”. (Faust)

Well now, at this point in time we ‘ve already heard about all of the malicious propaganda scenarios , that Wernher von Braun and Carol Rosin bravely warned us about . And now, we await…further developments of a last and supposed “alien threat”…this final card of the “powers that be” or whoever they are, apparently trying to exert some sort of universal repressive control. From where I sit, way out here in the far reaches of our Red Rock. Arizona desert, it seems clear that swords are not about to be hammered into plowshares anytime soon…guns are everywhere, and too many people are making too much money from these clever media-controlled propaganda deceptions. Furthermore, even our most impartial observers are likely to verify that, the intended manipulations of these phony agendas, which cynically play into and exploit guilt ridden, fundamentalist believers, often succeed in flaming hysterical fears of an oncoming Apocalypse and Armageddon.

At the time of these shocking disclosures by her pain-ridden, terminally-ill mentor, Carol Rosin maintains that she was still too young and too naïve to grasp the full import of what he was trying to convey about the deadly, life-negative consequences forthcoming from an ongoing revolving-door game of greed, power and control. While she believed that he had much more to share, she also discerned that he was under serious threat and concern for her well-being, as well as for the safety of his family, colleagues and friends. This succeeded in preventing him from revealing anymore of his “need to know”, truly terrible knowledge. Wernher von Braun died in 1977 of multiple cancers.

Dr. Carol Rosin has carried on with her mandate, in some detail, as outlined by her adamant and long suffering mentor. Now that America spends at least 60% of its discretionary budget on the military, the issue of weapons in space continues.

As David Glenn Cox explains, “It’s the Frankenstein Principle, we should know better, but we don’t. Just because we can doesn’t mean that we should. In our never-ending quest for technological stupidity we find ourselves living in a world today treed by the hounds of madness and stupidity.” Following the corporate media-driven, siren song of progress, our military needs to weaponize the ethers with robotic space drones and surveillance satellites, unstoppable hypersonic vehicles equipped with nuclear weapons to deliver anywhere on our globe within 45 minutes.…because why? For those still asking what is this gazillion dollar mission again? The answer is, well…never you mind, the “powers that be” want this…and because if we don’t, the bad guys will. Which “powers” and what bad guys? Never you mind….(“Space: The Final Frontier, opednews.com, May 7,2014)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.