Cautionary Tales – Buried Evil: V2 Rocket (Part 3)

1st March, 2024

As US troops approached a prison camp in Nazi Germany, they could hear agonized wailing. The stench of rotting flesh filled their nostrils. Moments later they discovered a pile of smoldering corpses, alongside emaciated survivors.

Next to the concentration camp they found something else: tunnels filled with tools — and partially assembled rockets. The soldiers had hit upon the evil heart of the V2 manufacturing program: enslaved laborers, imprisoned underground.

The rocket program’s director had already fled. Wernher von Braun now had just one concern: persuading the Americans to let him switch sides…

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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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