The Darker Side of the Moon
The Darker Side of the Moon
Why this petition matters
As society reflects on what is now considered acceptable and movements such as Black Lives Matter gain momentum with statues of slave traders, confederates and other historical figures toppled based on their records of human abuse, still organisations celebrate Nazi war criminals such as Wernher von Braun even though they were involved in atrocities in living memory. It is now time for change.
During WW2 the V-1 flying bomb or "Doodlebug" and the V-2, the first ballistic missile (designed by von Braun), were developed and tested at the Peenemünde Army Research Centre on the Baltic Sea in Northern Germany. These were designated Vengeance weapons and designed to cause as much misery and terror to their civilian targets as possible.
In 1943 after the Allies bombed Peenemünde, production was moved to Mittelwerk, dug deep beneath the Harz mountains so it was immune to bombing, using labour from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Of the 70,000 slave labourers that went into Dora, at least 20,000 died from illness, beatings, hangings and intolerable working conditions. More people died building V-2 rockets than were killed by it as a weapon.
At the end of the war, von Braun surrendered to US forces and offered himself and his team of 500 to the US government as scientists. Germans who had been active Nazis were not allowed to enter the US, but the various war departments wanted access to German technology and were willing to bend the rules. As a workaround, the US set up Operation Overcast (which became Operation Paperclip), whereby the status of Nazi scientists was altered to make them appear “innactive” within the party. As the Cold War began, everything accelerated under “national interest”, as the US government felt it was better to allow entry to Nazi scientists rather than let them fall into Soviet hands. Ultimately 1600 scientists were granted entry via the program.
There is no doubting that Wernher von Braun helped get man to the moon, but
- He joined the SS riding school in 1933 as an SS-Anwärter
- He voluntarily joined the Nazi party in 1937
- In 1940 he officially joined the SS as Untersturmführer
- In 1943 he was given the honorary title "Professor" by Adolf Hitler which is was proud to use even in the US until its history became known.
- He was personally promoted 3 times by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer (Major)
- He was awarded the War Merit Cross, First Class with Swords and then the Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (both for outstanding war effort) by Adolf Hitler.
- He was an Ardent Nazi (as in he believed in the cause)
- He personally selected slave labourers from Buchenwald Concentration Camp to work at Peenemünde
- Documents that came out from East Germany and the USSR since the fall of the Iron Curtain show he was directly involved with running of Mittelwerk and Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp and knew about the conditions there, the hangings and other atrocities
- Had he remained alive, he would have suffered the same fate as Arthur Rudolf and the 100 or so other Nazis still alive and been given an ultimatum by the Department of Justice to leave the US or be prosecuted for War Crimes.
There is still a statue of Wernher von Braun outside NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. It should be removed and placed in a museum with both his contributions to the space program and an accurate portrayal of his Nazi past. There should also be accurate biographies on the NASA website, the Huntsville, Alabama website, the state of Alabama's website and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. NASA, the National Space Society, and others should also stop offering Wernher von Braun awards and the Von Braun Center in Huntsville should be renamed.
- Huntsville, AlabamaHuntsville Town
- Governor AlabamaGovernor Alabama
- Von Braun CenterVon Braun Center
- Pat AmmonsNational Space Society, Media