Operation Paperclip: The Nazi Infestation Of America
Operation Paperclip was the codename under which the US intelligence and military services extricated scientists from Germany, during and after the final stages of World War II. The project was originally called Operation Overcast, and is sometimes also known as Project Paperclip.
Of particular interest were scientists specialising in aerodynamics and rocketry (such as those involved in the V-1 and V-2 projects), chemical weapons, chemical reaction technology and medicine. These scientists and their families were secretly brought to the United States, without State Department review and approval; their service for Hitler’s Third Reich, NSDAP and SS memberships as well as the classification of many as war criminals or security threats also disqualified them from officially obtaining visas. An aim of the operation was capturing equipment before the Soviets came in. The US Army destroyed some of the German equipment to prevent it from being captured by the advancing Soviet Army.
The majority of the scientists, numbering almost 500, were deployed at White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico, Fort Bliss, Texas and Huntsville, Alabama to work on guided missile and ballistic missile technology. This in turn led to the foundation of NASA and the US ICBM program.
Much of the information surrounding Operation Paperclip is still classified.
Separate from Paperclip was an even-more-secret effort to capture German nuclear secrets, equipment and personnel (Operation Alsos). Another American project (TICOM) gathered German experts in cryptography.
The United States Bureau of Mines employed seven German synthetic fuel scientists in a Fischer-Tropsch chemical plant in Louisiana, Missouri in 1946.
Wernher von Braun:
Dr. Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Germany and the United States. Originally a German scientist who led Germany’s rocket development program before and during World War II, he entered the United States at the end of the war through the then-secret Operation Paperclip. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen and worked on the American ICBM program before joining NASA, where he served as Director. He is generally regarded as the father of the United States space program.
Wernher von Braun was born in Wirsitz, Province of Posen (now Poland). Upon his Lutheran confirmation his mother gave him a telescope, and he discovered a passion for astronomy and the realm of space. When, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, Wirsitz became part of Poland in 1920, his family – like many other German families – moved. They settled in Berlin where at first von Braun did not do well in physics and mathematics until he acquired a copy of the book Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space) by rocket pioneer Hermann Oberth. From then on he applied himself at school in order to understand physics and mathematics. One anecdote from this period is the time the 12-year-old von Braun, when inspired by the legend of Wan Hu, caused a major disruption by firing off a toy wagon to which he had attached a number of firecrackers. The young von Braun was taken into custody by the local police until his father came to collect him.
In 1930 von Braun attended the Berlin Institute of Technology where he joined the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR, the “Spaceflight Society”) and assisted Oberth in liquid-fuelled rocket motor tests. After receiving his degree he commenced postgraduate studies at Technical University of Berlin, earning a doctorate in physics (aerospace engineering) on July 27, 1934.
The Nazi Rocketeer
While von Braun was working on his doctorate, a young artillery captain, Walter Dornberger, arranged an Ordnance Department research grant for him, and von Braun then worked next to Dornberger’s existing solid-fuel rocket test site at Kummersdorf. He received his doctorate two years later and by the end of 1934 his group had successfully launched two rockets that rose to heights of 2.2 and 3.5 kilometres.
At that time, however, there was no German rocket society, as the VfR had collapsed and civilian rocket tests had been forbidden by the new Nazi regime. Only military development was possible and to this end a larger facility was erected at the village of Peenemünde in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea. This location was chosen partly on the recommendation of von Braun’s mother, who recalled her father’s duck-hunting expeditions there. Dornberger became military commander at Peenemünde and von Braun was technical director. In collaboration with the Luftwaffe, the Peenemünde group developed liquid-fuel rocket engines for aircraft and jet-assisted takeoffs. They also developed the long-range A-4 ballistic missile (later renamed the V-2) and the supersonic Wasserfall anti-aircraft missile.
In November 1937 (other sources: December 1, 1932) von Braun joined the Nazi Party. An OMGUS (Office of Military Government, United States) document dated April 23, 1947 states that von Braun joined the SS (Schutzstaffel) horseback riding school in 1933, then the Nazi Party on May 1, 1937 and became an officer in the SS from May 1940 to the end of the war.
Amongst his comments about his Nazi membership von Braun has said:
“I was officially demanded to join the National Socialist Party. At this time (1937) I was already technical director of the Army Rocket Center at Peenemünde … My refusal to join the party would have meant that I would have to abandon the work of my life. Therefore, I decided to join. My membership in the party did not involve any political activities … in Spring 1940, one SS-Standartenführer (SS Colonel) Müller … looked me up in my office at Peenemünde and told me that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had sent him with the order to urge me to join the SS. I called immediately on my military superior … Major-General W. Dornberger. He informed me that … if I wanted to continue our mutual work, I had no alternative but to join.”
That claim has been often disputed because in 1940 the SS had shown no interest in Peenemünde yet and there exists no other evidence that pressure was ever used to make people like Von Braun join the Nazi party, let alone the SS. Von Braun claimed to have worn the SS uniform only once . He began as an Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant) and was promoted three times by Himmler, the last time in June 1943 to SS-Sturmbannführer (Wehrmacht Major).
In November 1942 Adolf Hitler approved the production of the A-4 as a “vengeance weapon” and the group developed the A-4 to rain explosives on London. Twenty-two months after Hitler ordered it into production, the first combat A-4 — now renamed the V-2 (“Vergeltungswaffe 2”, “Retaliation/Vengeance Weapon 2”) — was launched toward England, on September 7, 1944.
SS General Hans Kammler, who as an engineer had constructed several concentration camps including Auschwitz, had a reputation for brutality and had originated the idea of using concentration camp prisoners as slave laborers in the rocket program. Arthur Rudolph, chief engineer of the V-2 rocket factory at Peenemünde, endorsed this idea in April 1943 when a labor shortage developed. More people died building the V-2 rockets than were killed by it as a weapon. Von Braun admitted visiting the plant at Mittelwerk on many occasions, and called conditions at the plant “repulsive”, but claimed never to have witnessed first-hand any deaths or beatings, although it became clear to him that deaths had occurred by 1944 . He denied ever visiting the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp itself.
Adam Cabala reported: “[…] the German scientists led by Prof. Wernher von Braun also saw everything that went on every day. When they walked along the corridors, they saw the prisoners’ drudgery, their exhausting work and their ordeal. During his frequent attendance in Dora, Prof. Wernher von Braun never once protested against this cruelty and brutality.” and “On a little area beside the clinic shack you could see piles of prisoners every day who had not survived the workload and had been tortured to death by the vindictive guards. […] But Prof. Wernher von Braun just walked past them, so close that he almost touched the bodies.”
On August 15, 1944, von Braun wrote a letter (Ref 7) to Albin Sawatzki, manager of the V-2 production, admitting that he personally picked labor slaves from the Buchenwald concentration camp, which, he admitted 25 years later in an interview, had been in a “pitiful shape”.
Arrest By The Nazi Regime
There are three different versions of von Braun’s arrest. André Sellier, a French historian and survivor of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, offers as good an explanation as any. Himmler called von Braun, an SS officer, to come to his Hochwald HQ in East Prussia sometime in February 1944. To increase his power-base within the Nazi régime, Heinrich Himmler was conspiring to use Kammler to wrest control of all German armament programs, including the V-2 program at Peenemünde. He therefore recommended that von Braun work more closely with Kammler to solve the problems of the V-2, but von Braun claimed to have replied that the problems were merely technical and he was confident that they would be solved with Dornberger’s assistance.
Apparently von Braun had been under SD surveillance since October 1943 and a report on him and his colleagues Riedel and Gröttrup was being prepared. In it von Braun and his colleagues were said to have expressed regret at an engineer’s house one evening that they were not working on a spaceship and that they felt the war was not going well (a ‘defeatist’ attitude). A young female dentist later denounced them for their comments and, combined with Himmler’s false charges that von Braun was a Communist sympathizer and had attempted to sabotage the V-2 program, this led to his arrest. Kammler, highly dedicated to Himmler, was also instrumental in von Braun’s arrest by the Gestapo.
The unsuspecting von Braun was arrested and on March 22 (or March 14) 1944 and was taken to a Gestapo cell in Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland), where he was imprisoned for two weeks without knowing the charges leveled against him. It was only through the Abwehr in Berlin that Dornberger was able to obtain von Braun’s conditional release and Albert Speer, Reichsminister for Munitions and War Production, convinced Hitler to release von Braun so that the V-2 program could continue.
Surrender To The Americans
The Soviet Army was about 160 km from Peenemünde in the spring of 1945 when von Braun assembled his planning staff and asked them to decide how and to whom they should surrender. Afraid of the rumored Soviet cruelty to prisoners of war, von Braun and his staff decided to try to surrender to the Americans. After using forged papers to steal a train, von Braun led 500 people through war-torn Germany toward the American lines. The SS had meanwhile been issued with orders to kill the German engineers and destroy their records. The engineers, however, had hidden these in a mineshaft and continued to evade their own troops. Upon finding an American private, von Braun greeted him “My name is Magnus von Braun. My brother invented the V-2. We want to surrender.” Following the surrender, the American command realized the importance of the engineers and immediately went to Peenemünde and Nordhausen to capture the remaining V-2s and their parts before destroying both sites with explosives. Over 300 train-car loads of spare V-2 parts ultimately found their way to America. Much of von Braun’s production team, however, was captured by the Russians. The V-2 rocket plans that had been hidden near Bad Sachsa in Germany were later recovered by members of the 332nd Engineer General Service Regiment.
U.S. Army Career
On June 20, 1945, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull approved the transfer of von Braun and his specialists to America. Since the paperwork of those Germans selected for transfer to the United States was indicated by paperclips, von Braun and his colleagues became part of the mission known as Operation Paperclip, an operation that resulted in the employment of many German scientists who were formerly considered as war criminals or security threats (like von Braun) by the U.S. Army  Walt Disney and Wernher von Braun, shown in this 1954 photo, collaborated on a series of three educational films. Enlarge Walt Disney and Wernher von Braun, shown in this 1954 photo, collaborated on a series of three educational films.
The first seven technicians arrived in the United States at New Castle Army Air Base, just south of Wilmington, Delaware, on September 20, 1945. They were then flown to Boston and taken by boat to the Army Intelligence Service post at Fort Strong in Boston Harbor. Later, with the exception of von Braun, the men were transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland to sort out the Peenemünde documents. These would be the documents that would enable the scientists to continue their rocketry experiments.
Finally, von Braun and his remaining Peenemünde staff were transferred to their new home at Fort Bliss, Texas, a large Army installation just north of El Paso. Whilst there they trained military, industrial and university personnel in the intricacies of rockets and guided missiles and helped to refurbish, assemble and launch a number of V-2s that had been shipped from Germany to the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico. They also continued to study the future potential of rockets for military and research applications. Since they were not permitted to leave Fort Bliss without military escort, von Braun and his colleagues began to refer to themselves only half-jokingly as “PoPs”, “Prisoners of Peace”.
During his stay at Fort Bliss von Braun mailed a marriage proposal to his first cousin, 18-year-old Maria von Quistorp. On March 1, 1947, having received permission to go back to Germany and return with his bride, he married her in a Lutheran church in Landshut, Germany. In December 1948, the von Brauns’ first daughter, Iris, was born at Fort Bliss Army Hospital. In total, the von Brauns had three children: Iris, Magrit and Peter.
In 1950, von Braun and his team were transferred to Huntsville, Alabama, his home for the next twenty years. Between 1950 and 1956, von Braun led the Army’s rocket development team at Redstone Arsenal, resulting in the Redstone rocket. In 1955 von Braun became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Still dreaming of a world in which rockets would be used for space exploration, in 1952 von Braun published his concept of a space station in a Collier’s Weekly magazine series of articles entitled Man Will Conquer Space Soon! These articles were illustrated by the space artist Chesley Bonestell and were influential in spreading his ideas. The space-station would have a diameter of 250 feet (76 m), orbit at a height of 1075 miles (1730 km), spin to provide artificial gravity and provide a platform for lunar expeditions. In the hope that its involvement would bring about greater public interest in the future of the space program, von Braun also began working with the Disney studios as a technical director, initially for three television films about space exploration. Director Wernher von Braun shows President Kennedy around the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1963. Enlarge Director Wernher von Braun shows President Kennedy around the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1963.
As Director of the Development Operations Division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), von Braun’s team then developed the Jupiter-C, a modified Redstone rocket. The Jupiter-C successfully launched the West’s first satellite, Explorer 1, on January 31, 1958. This event signaled the birth of America’s space program.
Despite the work on the Redstone rocket, the twelve years from 1945 to 1957 were probably some of the most frustrating for von Braun and his colleagues. In the Soviet Union Sergei Korolev and his team plowed ahead with several new rocket designs and the Sputnik program, while the American government was not very interested in von Braun’s work or views and only embarked on a very modest rocket-building program. In the meantime the press tended to dwell on von Braun’s past as a member of the SS and the slave labor used to build his V-2 rockets. It was not until 1957 and the launch of Sputnik 1 that America realized how far it lagged behind the Soviet Union in the emerging Space Race. After the U.S. Navy’s attempt at building a rocket to lift satellites into orbit resulted in the very unreliable Vanguard, American authorities recognized they needed von Braun and his team’s experience, so quickly had them transferred to NASA.
The F-1 engines of the Saturn V first stage dwarf von Braun.
NASA was established by law on July 29, 1958. One day later, the 50th Redstone rocket was successfully launched from Johnston Atoll in the south Pacific as part of Operation Hardtack. Two years later NASA opened the new Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and transferred von Braun and his development team there from the ABMA at Redstone Arsenal. Presiding from July 1960 to February 1970, von Braun became the Center’s first Director.
The Marshall Center’s first major program was development of the Saturn rockets to carry heavy payloads into and beyond Earth orbit. Wernher von Braun’s dream to help mankind set foot on the Moon became a reality on July 16, 1969 when a Marshall-developed Saturn V rocket launched the crew of Apollo 11 at the start of its historic eight-day mission. Over the course of the Apollo program Saturn V rockets enabled six teams of astronauts to reach the surface of the Moon. At the time of the first moon-landing von Braun publicly expressed his optimism that the Saturn rocket would continue to be developed, advocating manned missions to Mars in the 1980s based on the Saturn V.
During the late 1960s, von Braun played an instrumental role in the development of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. The desk from which he enabled America’s entry in the Space Race remains on display there. Still with his rocket models, von Braun is pictured in his new office at NASA headquarters in 1970. Enlarge Still with his rocket models, von Braun is pictured in his new office at NASA headquarters in 1970.
In 1970, von Braun and his family relocated from Huntsville to Washington, D.C. when he was assigned the post of NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning at NASA Headquarters. However, with the truncation of the Apollo program, von Braun retired from NASA in June 1972, as it became evident that his and NASA’s visions for future U.S. space flight projects were different.
Career after NASA After leaving NASA, von Braun became a vice-president of Fairchild Industries in Germantown, Maryland, where he helped establish and promote the National Space Institute, a precursor of the present-day National Space Society. In 1976 he became scientific consultant to Lutz Kayser; the CEO of OTRAG; and a member of the Daimler-Benz board of directors.
In 1976 von Braun also learned he had cancer. Despite surgery, the cancer progressed, forcing him to retire from Fairchild on December 31, 1976. Von Braun sustained an injury from a crash and unknown to him started to bleed internally. By the time his family convinced him to go to the hospital it was too late to stop the bleeding. On June 16, 1977, Wernher von Braun died in Alexandria, Virginia at the age of 65. He is buried there in the Ivy Hill Cemetery. In life von Braun was tall, articulate, with a fine command of English, although German accented, and always willing to talk to students in an attempt to inspire and light young minds with his vision of space travel, to which he was devoted all his life.
Bernhard Tessmann (August 15, 1912 – December 19, 1998 in Huntsville, Alabama) was a German expert in guided missiles during World War II. Tessmann first met Wernher von Braun in 1935. He had little interest in spaceflight, even though he had seen the sets of the film Frau im Mond since his father worked at Ufa film studios. Tessmann was involved in the basic planning for Peenemünde, moving there in late 1936 to supervise construction and conduct first engine testing there at Test Stand I. Tessmann worked on wind tunnels, then on thrust measuring systems for V-2 engines.
He was evacuated after the bombing in August 1943 to Koelpinsee where he designed ground equipment for V-2 mobile units and was involved in the planning for the “Projekt Zement” underground V-2 facilites at Ebensee, Austria.
Tessmann was a key man in securing the V-2 legacy at the end of the war. Once von Braun became afraid the SS would follow the Führer’s “scorched earth” policy and destroy the tons of precious V-2 documents and blueprints, he instructed his personal aide, Dieter Huzel, and Bernhard Tessmann, chief designer of the Peenemünde test facilities, to hide the documents in a safe place.
It took three Opel trucks to carry the 14 tons of papers. The little convoy headed north on April 3, 1945 toward the nearby Harz Mountains. By the end of the day Tessmann and Huzel found an abandoned iron mine in the isolated village of Dornten. Thirty-six hours later, all of the documents had been hauled by a small locomotive into the heart of the mine and hand-carried into the powder magazine.
Eventually, von Braun and his leading V-2 scientists voluntarily surrendered to the U.S. 44th Division. Almost as important was the recovery of the 14 tons of V-2 documents hidden by Tessman and Huzel in the Dornten iron mine.
Tessmann was transferred to the USA at the end of the war (see Operation Paperclip), and as of January 1947, was working at Fort Bliss, Texas. Thereafter he worked his entire life with the rocket team, at Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range, and then at Huntsville. As of 1960, he was a Deputy Director of Test Division at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolph (9 November 1906 – 1 January 1996) was a rocket scientist for Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945, and helped develop the V-2 rocket. After World War II he was brought to the United States and worked for the Army and NASA where he managed the development of several important systems including the Pershing missile and the Saturn V moon rocket. In 1984 he was investigated for possible war crimes by the Office of Special Investigations and renounced his US citizenship. Contents
Rudolph was born in Stepfershausen, Meiningen, Germany. His family were farmers, with a long tradition in the area. His father Gustav died in World War I. His mother Ida noted that young Arthur had a mechanical gift and decided that he should attend technical training, while his younger brother Walter inherited the family farm.
From 1921 on, Arthur attended the technical school  in Schmalkalden for three years. In 1924 he found employment at a factory for silver goods in Bremen. In August 1927 he accepted a job at Stock & Co. in Berlin. After a few months, he became a toolmaker at Fritz Werner in Berlin.
In 1928 he attended the Technical College of Berlin, graduating in 1930 with the equivalent of a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.
In 1930, he worked for the Heylandt Works  in Berlin where he met Max Valier. Valier had use of the factory grounds for his experiments in rocketry. Rudolph became interested and worked with Valier in his spare time, along with Walter Riedel. On 17 May 1930, just days after Rudolph began working on the project, an experimental engine exploded killing Valier. Dr. Paulus Heylandt forbade further rocket research, but Rudolph continued with Riedel and Alfons Pietsch. Rudolph developed an improved and safer version of Valier’s engine, and Pietsch designed a rocket car. Dr. Heylandt conceded to back the project, and the “Heylandt Rocket Car” was born. The car was exhibited at Tempelhof Aerodrome. While it was a technical success, the fuel costs were greater than the admissions received and performances were discontinued. Rudolph joined the Nazi Party in 1931, then later the SA Reserve for a short period.
Rudolph joined the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR, the “Spaceflight Society”) where he first met fellow rocket enthusiast Wernher von Braun. In May of 1932 Rudolph was laid off and looking for work when he encountered Pietsch. Rudolph began design on a new engine, while Pietsch looked for a backer. Walter Dornberger had been tasked by the German Ordnance Department to develop a rocket weapons system. After demonstrating the new engine to Dornberger, Rudolph moved to the new proving grounds at Kummersdorf along with Riedel, and began working under von Braun. In December 1934, they successfully launched two A-2 rockets from the island of Borkum. Arthur Rudolph married Martha Therese Kohls (5 July 1905) on 3 October 1935 in Berlin.
The Kummersdorf facilities were inadequate for continued operations, so they were moved to Peenemünde in May 1937 and Rudolph continued work as an engineer on the A series rockets. Rudolph’s daughter, Marianne Erika, was born 26 November 1937. In the spring of 1938, Dornberger put him in charge of the design for the new production plant to be built at Peenemünde. In August of 1943, as Rudolph was ready to begin production of the V-2, the British bombed Peenemünde. Martha and Marianne Rudolph were evacuated. The production facility was moved to a new location near Nordhausen called Mittelwerk. The facility was originally a gypsum mine that was being used as a storage facility. Rudolph was in charge of moving the equipment from Peenemünde to Mittelwerk, working under Albin Sawatzki. Sawatzki decreed that 50 V-2 rockets were to be produced in December, but Rudolph was barely able to produce four rockets that were later returned from Peenemünde as defective. In 1944, Himmler convinced Hitler to put the V-2 project directly under SS control, and in August replaced Dornberger with SS General Hans Kammler as its director. About 5,000 prisoners were used at Mittelwerk, being housed at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. In January 1945 the SS ordered all of the civilians and prisoners to attend a public hanging of several prisoners. By March 1945, production had stopped due to a lack of parts. Rudolph and his staff were moved to Oberammergau where they met von Braun and others from Peenemünde. They finally surrendered to the American army and were transported to Garmisch.
From July to October 1945, Rudolph was transferred to the British to participate in Operation Backfire. He was then transferred back to the Americans. Martha and Marianne Rudolph were living in Stepfershausen, an area about to be occupied by the Red Army. The American army picked them up, and the Rudolphs were rejoined at Camp Overcast near Landshut. In November 1945, Operation Overcast brought Rudolph, von Braun and the rest of the V-2 team temporarily to the U.S. for six months. After President Truman approved Operation Paperclip in August 1946, most of the group stayed permanently.
After a brief interrogation in Boston, the team was sent to White Sands Proving Grounds to work on further V-2 engineering in January 1946. In January 1947 he was moved to the Ordnance Research and Development Division at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, where his family finally joined him in April. Since he had been brought into the US without a visa, he and others were sent to Juárez, Mexico where he obtained a visa and officially immigrated to the US on 14 April 1949. During this time, he acted as a liaison to the Solar Aircraft Company, and spent much of 1947 and 1949 in San Diego, California.
During a 1949 inquiry by the FBI, Rudolph made the following statement on his participation in the Nazi party:
Until 1930 I sympathized with the social democratic party, voted for it and was a member of a socialdemocratic union (Bund Techn. Agst. u. Beamt.) After 1930 the economical situation became so serious that it appeared to me to be headed for catastrophy. (I really became unemployed in 1932.) The great amount of unemployment caused expansion of nationalsoc. and communistic parties. Frightened that the latter one would become the government I Joined the NSDAP (a legally reg. entity) to help, I believed in the preservation of the western culture.
On 25 June 1950 he was transferred to Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, and the group was redesignated as the Ordnance Guided Missile Center. He was naturalized as an American citizen on 11 November 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1956 Rudolph was appointed as Technical Director for the Redstone project. Rudolph was assigned as Project Manager for the Pershing missile project. He received an honorary doctorate of science degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida on 23 February 1959. He later received the Exceptional Civilian Service Award, the highest Army award for civilians.
In 1961 Rudolph went to work at NASA, once again working for von Braun. In December 1961 he became Assistant Director of Systems Engineering, serving as liaison between vehicle development at Marshall Space Flight Center and the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. He served as the project director of the Saturn V rocket program from August 1963 to May 1968 and then became special assistant to the director of Marshall Space Flight Center. The first Saturn V launch lifted off from Kennedy Space Center and performed flawlessly on 9 November 1967, Rudolph’s birthday. In July 1969, the Saturn V helped put man on the Moon. At the end of 1969 Rudolph retired from NASA. During his tenure, he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
OSI Investigation And Controversy
The Rudolphs retired to San Jose, California to be near their daughter. Soon after moving, he had a heart attack and a triple bypass. In September 1982, he received a letter requesting an interview by the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Apparently, Rudolph believed this was one of the series of interrogations he had gone through since his arrival in the US. The first of three interviews, it centered on his attitudes on racial superiority, his early participation in the Nazi Party and a possible role in the treatment of prisoners at Mittelwerk. On 28 November 1983, Rudolph, purportedly under duress and fearful for the welfare of his wife and daughter, signed an agreement with the OSI stating that he would leave the United States and renounce his United States citizenship. Under the agreement, Rudolph would not be prosecuted, the citizenship of his wife and daughter was not in danger of revocation and Rudolph’s retirement and Social Security benefits were left intact. In March 1984 Arthur and Martha Rudolph departed for Germany where Rudolph renounced his citizenship as agreed. Germany protested to the United States Department of State, as Rudolph now had no citizenship in any country. In July, Germany requested documentation from OSI to determine if Rudolph should be prosecuted or granted citizenship. After receiving documentation in April 1985, the case was investigated by Harald Duhn, the Attorney General of Hamburg. In March 1987, the investigation concluded after questioning a number of witnesses and determining no basis for prosecution. Rudolph was then granted German citizenship.
Meanwhile, a great deal of controversy occurred back in the US. Rudolph had not told his friends of the investigation, but the OSI made a news release after his departure. Several groups and individuals were calling for an investigation into the OSI’s activities regarding Rudolph. These included retired Major General John Medaris (former commander of ABMA), the city of Huntsville, the American Legion and former associates at NASA. Thomas Franklin interviewed Rudolph and wrote a series of articles in the Huntsville News that questioned the OSI investigation.
In 1985, Representative Bill Green of New York introduced a bill to strip Rudolph of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Rudolph applied for a visa in 1989 to attend a 20th anniversary celebration of the first Moon landing, but was denied by the State Department. In May 1990, the House of Representatives ordered hearings to determine whether the OSI was negligent in not pursuing the prosecution, or if it had violated the rights of Arthur Rudolph. In July the Rudolphs entered Canada for a reunion with their daughter. Since the OSI had placed Rudolph on a watch list, he was detained and expelled from Canada. Paul Fromm and Ernst Zündel (both alleged neo-Nazis) attempted to support Rudolph with demonstrations.
Arthur Rudolph died in Hamburg on 1 January 1996.
Kurt Blome was a high-ranking Nazi scientist before and during the Second World War. He was a deputy of the Reich Health Leader (Reichsgesundheitsführer) and Plenipotentiary for Cancer Research in the Reich Research Council. Blome captured the spirit of his medical identity in an autobiographical book, Arzt im Kampf (Physician in Struggle), in which he exuberantly equated medical and military power in their battle for life and death.
Blome had been arrested on 17 May 1945 by an agent of the United States Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC, an army intelligence service) in Munich, and he had no papers except his driving licence. After some weeks of custody, in which the CIC checked on his identity, Blome was taken to the Kransberg Castle (medieval castle north of Frankfurt) by an escort.
A few days after his arrival at the castle a secret message was transmitted to the ALSOS mission, an Anglo-American team of experts, whose order was to investigate the state of German and Italian weapons technology towards end of war:
“In 1943 Blome was studying bacteriological warfare, although officially he was involved in cancer research, which was however only a camouflage. Blome additionally served as deputy health minister of the Reich. Would like you to send investigators?”
Blome admitted that he had been ordered in 1943 to experiment with plague vaccines on concentration camp prisoners. He was tried at the Doctors’ Trial in 1947 on charges of practicing euthanasia (extermination of sick prisoners), and conducting experiments on humans. Although acquitted, his earlier admissions were well known, and it was generally accepted that he had indeed participated in the gruesome experiments (there is evidence that Blome experimented with Sarin gas on Auschwitz prisoners).
It is believed that American intervention saved Blome from the gallows. In return Blome agreed to provide information to the Americans about his experiments in Dachau and advice in the development of their own germ warfare program. Two months after his Nuremberg acquittal, Blome was transferred to the USA (see Operation Paperclip) and interviewed at Camp David, Maryland about biological warfare. In 1951, he was hired by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps to work on chemical warfare. His file neglected to mention Nuremberg.
Eventually, Blome was arrested by French authorities, convicted of war crimes, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
White Sands Missile Range:
White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), formerly known as the White Sands Proving Grounds, is located in Otero County, New Mexico, in the Tularosa Basin, a valley between the Organ Mountains, San Andres Mountains and the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico. The area of the range is approximately the same as that of the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island put together. The story of the last annexation of territory by the base was the background for Edward Abbey’s novel, Fire on the Mountain.
The white sands are composed of gypsum crystals which have leached out of the surrounding mountains. A distinctive ecology survives in this desert. Visitors may explore the dunes in the White Sands National Monument, located in the range.
Known since the 1660s as Jornada del Muerto, the range’s landscape was sufficiently desolate to house the Trinity site. After the V-2 rockets of Peenemünde were captured in World War II, the rockets and the rocket scientists were taken to WSMR for reverse engineering. Today, seventy miles to the south, the US Army Air Defense Center, in Fort Bliss, Texas and WSMR form a contiguous swath of territory devoted to the art. Fort Bliss has an outdoor museum display of rocket-propelled missiles.
The German connection lives on as well, in El Paso Deutsche Schule, and Alamogordo Deutsche Schule, established to teach the German children of the soldiers who would later return to Germany after their tours of duty in New Mexico and Texas.
At Change of Command ceremonies on November 30, 2005, a civilian, Tom Berard, was named director of WSMR upon the retirement of Brig. Gen. Robert J. Reese from the Army, after 35 years of service. Brig. Gen. Michael J. Combest, Commander of the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command emphasized that Tom Berard is in charge of WSMR.EPTimes.1 There have been 6 general officers in command at WSMR since 1994; Reese’s tenure has been the longest, at 28 months, during that period. Berard had been the highest-ranking civilian at the Range. Officials at the Department of the Army have said that as soon as the Army can get enough generals to staff all the command positions, the Army will appoint a general officer to lead WSMR. The appointment is expected to take at least six months and could take longer.
WSMR is located on U.S. 70 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces; the highway is sometimes closed for safety reasons while tests are conducted on the missile range.
On just one occasion, STS-3, the NASA space shuttle made a landing at Northrup Strip, 45 miles due north of WSMR Headquarters, when both Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Edwards Air Force Base in California were unable to accommodate a landing due to weather. In the movie SpaceCamp, the shuttle is depicted as landing here after missing a chance to land at Edwards.
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