Cautionary Tales – Into the Black Lair: V2 Rocket (Part 2)

16th February, 2024

In the 1920s, Germany’s Society for Spaceship Travel boasted some of the sharpest scientific minds – like the incandescently brilliant young Wernher von Braun. But it had very little money, and progress was slow.

Then, in 1932, the army made a proposal: it would fund more serious research if the enthusiasts at the Society would develop a rocket weapon.

Despite a string of failures to launch, von Braun was able to convince key powerbrokers in Nazi Germany that they couldn’t afford to ignore rocket technology. How did he do it? And what happened when the murderous Heinrich Himmler made a play for the rocket program?

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Further reading

Essential sources for this series:

Murray Barber V2: The A4 Rocket from Peenemunde to Redstone

Norman Longmate Hitler’s Rockets

Jean Michel Dora

Michael Neufeld The Rocket and the Reich

Michael Neufeld Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War

Michael Neufeld also kindly agreed to be interviewed as background for the series.

Other sources include:

RV Jones Most Secret War

Steven Zaloga V1 Flying Bomb 1942-52

Steven Zaloga V2 Ballistic Missile 1942-52

Freeman Dyson Disturbing the Universe

Walter Dornberger V2

Daniel Lang “A Romantic Urge” The New Yorker 21 April 1950

Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner How Big Things Get Done

Diane Tedeschi interview with Michael Neufeld Smithsonian Magazine 1 Jan 2008

Michael Neufeld “Wernher von Braun, the SS and Concentration Camp Labor: Questions of Moral, Political and Criminal Responsibility.” German Studies Review. 25:57–78. 2002

Adam Tooze Wages of Destruction

Dean Reuter The Hdden Nazi

Brian Crim Our Germans

Annie Jacobsen Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

Steve Ossad “The Liberation of Nordhausen Concentration Camp

Amy Shira Teitel “The Nazi Smoke and Mirrors Escape That Launched American Into The Space Age” Motherboard, 15 September 2012

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