Cautionary Tales – Supersonic Nazi Vengeance: V2 Rocket (Part 1)

2nd February, 2024

At the height of World War Two, British intelligence began receiving reports that the enemy was developing a rocket weapon. The idea seemed fantastical — resources in Nazi Germany were scarce and a rocket-building program defied economic logic.

But one intelligence chief took the reports of a rocket weapon seriously and he managed to convince Winston Churchill to heed the threat too. The British Prime Minister gave the order to bomb Germany’s rocket factory to rubble, and 600 bomber planes embarked on a full-scale attempt to obliterate it.

From the air, the damage appeared devastating. The British thought they had succeeded in crushing the rocket-building program. But they were wrong.

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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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