von Braun's 100th (23 March 1912 -- 23 March 2012)

RyanC

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Today is the Centennial of Wernher von Braun's birth:

March 23, 1912 - March 23, 2012

von Braun's first job with Hermann Oberth in 1930 was to fundraise for the Verein für Raumschiffahrt; and he did this via flacking displays on interplanetary rockets in a Berlin department store, eight hours a day of telling Berlin housewives how an interplanetary rocket would cost 7,000 marks ($1,700 USD), and take a year to build. :D

"Forty years later, I realize how little one billion dollars will buy and how little you can build in one year."
-von Braun

One of his other promotional pushes was "I bet you that the first man to walk on the Moon is alive today somewhere on this Earth!"

At the time, Neil Armstrong was literally a newborn infant in Ohio.

Now, naturally; Huntsville, Alabama remembers the man who put them on the map; who turned them from a decaying US Army Arsenal surrounded by rednecks on farm tractors, to a center of high technology and a major NASA center.

So, there's going to be a ceremony today for his birthday at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama in the new building that houses their restored Saturn V:

B-Day Party

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is hosting a birthday party on what would have been the 100th birthday of rocket pioneer Dr. Wernher von Braun.

The March 23 event will be at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, with cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. There will be German food and traditional German music performed by Terry Cavanagh and the Alpine Express.

The special guest speaker will be von Braun's daughter, Dr. Margrit von Braun, the dean of the College of Graduate Students at the University of Idaho. She will speak beneath the Saturn V rocket.

Von Braun's other daughter, Iris Robbins, will also attend the event.

The Huntsville Community Chorus will perform a composition written by von Braun when he was 15 years old. It is the only known von Braun musical composition that contains lyrics.

A number of personal friends of the von Braun family from across the United States and from Germany will attend, said Dr. Deborah Barnhart, the center's CEO.

The party will be "a traditional German birthday party," Barnhart said, "and will be a celebration of von Braun's life and achievements."

Everyone with a paid admission will be able to visit the center's exhibit, "100 Years of Von Braun: His American Journey," at no additional cost.

The March 23 event is sponsored by Lockheed Martin. Proceeds from the $100-a-plate dinner will go to a scholarship in von Braun's name.

Course, it sold out pretty fast.

BTW; the exhibit "100 Years of von Braun: His American Journey" is on display at USRC until May 2012; then it will travel overseas -- Madrid and Munich are mentioned as possible landing sites.

Among the items on display is his desktop planning calendar for...July 1969.

WvB_Calendar.jpg


If you can't make it to Alabama, you can try for Washington DC as von Braun lies at Section T, Plot 29, Site 5, of Ivy Hill Cemetery, off King Street in Alexandria, Virginia.

Or in more specific terms, the turn off to Ivy Hill is at:

38°49'0.66"N 77° 4'27.45"W
or
2823 King Street Alexandria, Virginia 22302-4012

And the Specific Location is:
vB_Map.jpg
 

Jemiba

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Don't know about a birthday party in Wyrzysk, Poland, but there's probably none in Peenemünde !
But in a certain way good to see, that political correctness isn't held in that high esteem, as I'm
sometimes afraid of ! ::)
 

Michel Van

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I also thought on the victims of Werner Von Braun V2 rocket use during WW2, around 8000 people
25000 died while building the V2 in deathcamp Mittelwerk at Nordhausen


So far i know Werner Von Braun never comments on this period...
 

Stargazer2006

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Michel Van said:
So far i know Werner Von Braun never comments on this period...

Ever heard the testimony of a repenting Nazi, anyway? Personally I didn't.

I know he wasn't a Nazi himself, only worked for them, but still...
 

Stargazer2006

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Thanks for the clarification. It's scary how politics can conveniently wipe off every trace of someone's past if it serves the military interests of a country. The guy's expertise was needed in the U.S.A., so he was granted some kind of pardon in exchange for his unconditional help in America's space research. And the same thing happened to all other Nazi or Nazi-friendly engineers after the war, whether in the U.S., the U.K. or the U.S.S.R...
 

flateric

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Justo Miranda

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In memoriam...
 

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Justo Miranda

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In memoriam...
 

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Jemiba

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From what I've read about Wernher von Braun, he actually wasn't a convinced Nazi, despite
his NSDAP and SS membership. In a way, he tried to use both for fulfilling his dreams. But
there seem to be little doubts, that he was a callous opportunist, who didn't care at all about
the great costs in human life, although it seems not very plausible to assume, that he wasn't
aware. For such a behaviour, other high-ranking Germans were sent to the Gallows after 1945,
because they had the bad luck, not be able to offer something worthwhile to the victorious powers.
But I'm sure, that today things would be handled in the same way, so maybe around 2090 we'll
see a "birthday party" a former Iraqui scientist, who was known for great achievements in the field
of biological or chemical research, which in fact was based on his work on weapons in an Iraqui
laboratory and maybe tested with the "help" Kurds ! :(
 

merriman

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Jemiba said:
From what I've read about Wernher von Braun, he actually wasn't a convinced Nazi, despite
his NSDAP and SS membership. In a way, he tried to use both for fulfilling his dreams. But
there seem to be little doubts, that he was a callous opportunist, who didn't care at all about
the great costs in human life, although it seems not very plausible to assume, that he wasn't
aware. For such a behaviour, other high-ranking Germans were sent to the Gallows after 1945,
because they had the bad luck, not be able to offer something worthwhile to the victorious powers.
But I'm sure, that today things would be handled in the same way, so maybe around 2090 we'll
see a "birthday party" a former Iraqui scientist, who was known for great achievements in the field
of biological or chemical research, which in fact was based on his work on weapons in an Iraqui
laboratory and maybe tested with the "help" Kurds ! :(

Fair enough. He was a pragmatic opportunist. Agreed.

And, as you point out, he had something to offer this great nation -- a talent that kept him off the gallows platform and out of prison. Von Braun was useful to this nation: his nuts-and-bolts understanding of rocket motors; his managerial ability; and above all, his vision and salesmanship.

He beat the Russian's to the moon. And he did it by mobilizing this nation through slick talk and imagery.

Hungarian's and Jew's gave the world fission, then fusion -- shall we throw rocks at them?

Germany gave us the stars.

This short clip puts international-pragmatism-at-work nicely.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ht_Z_Dn3Uc

 

Orionblamblam

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merriman said:
And, as you point out, he had something to offer this great nation -- a talent that kept him off the gallows platform and out of prison.

AFAIK, von Braun never would have been headed for the gallows regardless. He was in charge of rocket development at Peenemunde, not in charge of directing the use of slave labor to manufacture the rockets at the Mittlewerk. For culpability there, go for the likes of Hans Kammler.

von Braun doubtless knew what was going on at Dora, but his responsibility for it, and ability to change it, were minimal at best. Going after von Braun would have made less sense than going after Ernst Heinkel. I often wonder, though, what would have happened if the US *didn't* get the German rocketeers. the US had a rocket industry that was in many ways more forward-thinking and advanced than the Germans... but the Germans were *famous* and had had obvious successes, so the Americans got shoved aside and the Germans put in charge.

Imagine an alternate history where Stalin got the Germans... and America put a satellite in orbit atop a North American Aviation HATV in 1952.
 
M

MilwaukeeRoad

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Von Braun was directly involved in the A4 production by Mittelwerk AG from early 1943 onward, and as such was not only perfectly aware that slave labour from KZ Mittelbau-Dora and its satellite camps was used for building the facility first and then producing the A4 there, but he organised it. Arthur Rudolph and a Mittelwerk AG director came to Peenemünde on November 9, 1943 to meet with him and discuss the manpower question. Von Braun had already made hand-written calculations of the number of slave workers he would need, how they would be allocated throughout the programme, and the benefit for Peenemünde (how many HAP/EMW personnel would be freed up by resorting to slave labour). On November 12, he sent Degenkolb (head of the A4 Special Committee in the Armament and Ammunition Ministry) a final proposal in which he, Von Braun, acknowledged that Degenkolb had given him "permission that the Mittelwerk facilities be manned with prisoners". In other terms, Von Braun was the employer of slave labour. In a letter to Mittelwerk AG Director Albin Sawatski on August 15, 1944, Von Braun wrote that he, Von Braun, had gone to the Buchenwald concentration camp in order to select deportees (with the kind of skills he needed) and that he had arranged their transfer to Mittelbau with the KZ Kommandant Pister and the SS Labour Department representative, something OSI later estimated should have made Von Braun eligible for prosecution for crime against humanity in the US Military trials in Nürnberg.
As early as the late 1950s there were very precise testimonies of KZ Mittelbau-Dora deportees describing Von Braun visiting the Mittelbau site and walking amidst heaps of corpses, and at least one testimony of him attending deportees being hung by SS as punishment for "sabotage".
If Von Braun was or not a "convinced" National-Socialist and SS-member is completely irrelevant. He implemented actively, in his own area of responsibility, National-Socialist policies as regards deportation and extermination. This was what the IIIrd Reich expected from him, and he delivered.
 

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fightingirish

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On a side note:
Dieter Grau, one of the original German scientists who came to America with Wernher von Braun at the end of World War II and developed the space program that put men on the moon, passed away this week in Huntsville. He was 101. :(
Source: The Huntsville Times - Dieter Grau, one of the last members of Wernher von Braun's German rocket team, dead at 101


And in Germany, the last school in Germany to be named after Werner von Braun, changed to be named after Johannes Kepler.
So called "Helicopter parents" didn't want to send their children to a "Nazi-School" anymore. ::)
 
M

MilwaukeeRoad

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fightingirish said:
On a side note:
Dieter Grau, one of the original German scientists who came to America with Wernher von Braun at the end of World War II and developed the space program that put men on the moon, passed away this week in Huntsville. He was 101. :(
Source: The Huntsville Times - Dieter Grau, one of the last members of Wernher von Braun's German rocket team, dead at 101


And in Germany, the last school in Germany to be named after Werner von Braun, changed to be named after Johannes Kepler.
So called "Helicopter parents" didn't want to send their children to a "Nazi-School" anymore. ::)
they were entirely right.
 
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