Wernher von Braun is known to many as a brilliant pioneer of rocketry who left Germany in 1945 to become a key advisor in America's space program. Until now, few realize the bloody legacy he left behind. The Nazi Rocketeers tells the story of how von Braun and his fellow scientists abandoned their initial dreams of space exploration in favor of creating the devastating V-2 ballistic missile. This weapon enabled the Nazis to precipitate mass destruction and loss of life. Contrary to previous accounts, this history proves that von Braun and his colleagues were not forced under duress to turn their rockets into weapons of war. They were, in fact, highly ambitious members of the Nazi movement who willingly put their creation to lethal use. In return, honors were bestowed on them from the Third Reich and Hitler himself. Perhaps the most shocking revelation is the collaboration between the scientists and the SS in the exploitation of concentration camp slave labor for the building of the V-2 missiles. In addition to addressing an overlooked portion of World War II study, this book is a sobering testament to the consequences of corrupted genius.
In the late 1920s, Herman Oberth, an early theoretician of space travel, told the world of his plan for using liquid-fueled rockets as vehicles for space travel. To his surprise and delight, he found himself with a group of young German disciples, prominent among them Wernher von Braun, who wanted to turn this dream into reality. During the years of the Third Reich, with von Braun as their technical leader, these men developed the first modern rockets and attended at the birth of the Space Age. Although von Braun and his fellow rocket scientists dreamed of exploring space, they readily embraced the goal of creating weapons of terror and mass destruction. The myth they encouraged after the war described them as brilliant visionaries whose genius was exploited by the Nazi regime. Now, 50 years later, The Nazi Rocketeers tells the true story of how these men enthusiastically participated in the Nazi cause and crimes. The Nazi Rocketeers describes how Hermann Oberth, Wernher von Braun, and their colleagues progressed, from the innocent dream of space travel, through the development of the V-2 ballistic missile, to the transfer of their technological legacy to the Americans.
Other notable Nazi Rocketeers are Army General Walter Dornberger, career soldier and von Braun's mentor; Albert Speer, technocrat and advocate of the rocket as a weapon; and SS General Hans Kammler, architect of Auschwitz and director of the V-2 rocket war. The book tells how Wernher von Braun and many of his fellow rocket scientists were early and active members of the Nazi movement; von Braun was both a member of the Nazi party and a major in the SS. For their service to the Nazi cause, they were honored by the Third Reich and by Hitler himself. Most damning is the revelation that they actively collaborated with the SS in the exploitation of concentration camp slave labor to build the V-2 missile. This rocket, when used as a weapon, killed thousands; yet tens of thousands of prisoners died at the Dora concentration camp, where the rockets were built under the direction of the SS and the rocket scientists. The Nazi Rocketeers tells the story of the technical genius and moral corruption of the creators of the first modern rockets.