OPERATION PAPERCLIP: The 1969 footage of the three German Nazi scientists embracing each other in the center of the NASA control room in Houston never reached the global television audience – and neither was it broadcast amid last week’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and all across Washington it is being touted and celebrated as the apex of American innovation, invention and achievement. Only it’s not. The moon landing, whether you think it really happened or think it never happened, was created by a team of 1,600 Nazi scientists from Nazi Germany who were led by Wernher von Braun, Kurt Debus and Arthur Rudolph. All 3 of these men did work in Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps on thousands of victims who were the human fodder for their fiendish experiments. Not only did they never pay for their crimes, they were brought to America where they lived a nice, cushy lifestyle.
For years dismissed as a conspiracy theory, Operation Paperclip eventually came to light and proved all the conspiracy theorists correct once again. Without the know-how from Nazi scientists, Apollo 11 never would have taken place as an event. Oddly, no mention of these Nazi scientists who created the NASA space program is being made during this dubious 50th anniversary celebration. It’s all just being swept under the rug hoping you are so distracted by FaceApp and all the other time-wasting and brain-frying social media drugs that you won’t be paying much attention. And on that last point, they are quite correct.
The fact that more than 1,600 German Nazi scientists were employed on the design and production of the Apollo 11 Moon landing was conveniently ignored at the time of the mission
FROM DAILY MAIL UK: Watching the Moon landing 50 years ago from his comfortable Paris home, Yves Beon could barely contain himself at the spectacle unfolding on TV. Dozens of white-shirted scientists and engineers at the Apollo Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, were on their feet, many waving flags, cheering at a triumph that was enhancing American prestige and unleashing an ocean of apple-pie patriotism.
Yet Beon, a hero of the French Resistance, was spitting venom at the screen that night and, had he been alive to see last week’s documentaries repeating the footage of Neil Armstrong’s ‘giant leap for mankind’, his reaction would have been incandescent.
Amid the jubilation half a century ago, no one bothered to point out that America’s scientists had been given a huge helping hand. Or that the Moon landing was, in fact, the brainchild of German scientists led by Wernher von Braun, Kurt Debus and Arthur Rudolph. Or that all three were Nazi war criminals, guilty of mass murder.
The 1969 footage of the three German scientists embracing each other in the centre of the Houston control room never reached the global television audience – and neither was it broadcast amid last week’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
When the U.S. recruited Nazis for ‘Operation Paperclip’
After World War II, the government recruited dedicated Nazis — the scientists behind Hitler’s formidable war machine — to come to the U.S. to protect American interests during the Cold War. Jeffrey Brown talks to journalist Annie Jacobsen about her new book, “Operation Paperclip,” which sheds light on this veiled national security program and confronts the moral conundrum of whitewashing the past.
The fact that more than 130 German Nazi scientists were employed on the design and production of the Apollo 11 Moon landing was conveniently ignored at the time of the mission, and no wonder. These men were veterans of the infamous program to build V2 rockets, the secret weapons that Hitler believed would obliterate London and save Germany from defeat in the Second World War.
‘Everyone forgot the hell those Nazis created to build their rocket,’ Beon recalled when we met in 1986. ‘They were b******s with brains. The world forgot that 20,000 innocent men were murdered by those Germans.’
Today, the amnesia continues and it seems wilful. Why, 50 years on, has the BBC refused to re-show The Paperclip Conspiracy, a TV documentary I produced in 1987, for example? It exposed the shocking crimes committed by von Braun’s team and the subsequent conspiracy to conceal the atrocities.
Amid the sentimental nostalgia of the past few days, the Corporation has ignored a fundamental question: what price conscience and morality for that ‘giant leap for mankind’?
The world only knows about the true history of the Apollo program because of people such as Beon, one of the few slave labourers to emerge in 1945 from the underground factory where Hitler’s engineers built the V2s. Himmler’s SS forced an estimated 60,000 Europeans on to the production line in Nordhausen at the foot of the Harz mountains in central Germany. Survivors were rare.
Beon has particular memories of Arthur Rudolph, the 37-year-old director of production in Nordhausen who, just 17 years later, was the director of Apollo production in America.
As Beon recalled, Rudolph’s management technique in Nazi Germany was distinctive. ‘If he suspected anyone of not working, he hanged them above the production line and left the body dangling above us for a few days, as a warning. Every week, dozens were killed that way,’ he said.
‘Sometimes an electric crane lifted 12 prisoners at a time, hands behind their backs with a piece of wood in their mouths to prevent them crying out. Every day over 100 people died from exhaustion, starvation or disease.’
Beon recalled how von Braun, an SS major, and other scientists ‘just passed by us without looking at the bodies, without any sign of emotion’.
“Eagle, Houston. You are Go for landing. Over.”
LIVE NOW: Watch special coverage of the original live broadcast of the Apollo 11 #MoonLanding. Hear those familiar voices, feel the anticipation and experience the #Apollo50th with us: https://t.co/F7Po1RxVfS
— NASA (@NASA) July 20, 2019
Von Braun’s team were committed Nazis, including Rudolph who, when I interviewed him in 1987, told me: ‘Hitler’s first six years were marvellous. They were the best years in Germany. Everybody was happy.’ The fact that Beon survived Nordhausen was a miracle. With the Americans approaching, vengeful SS guards went on a murderous rampage against the labourers but Beon managed to hide.
Von Braun and his team, meanwhile, had already left, calculating – correctly – that they could wait in the Bavarian countryside, then offer their expertise to the Americans. ‘We were interested in continuing our work,’ he said later. He had no intention of ‘being squeezed like a lemon and then discarded’.
The first V2 rocket hit London in September 1944. By the end of the war, 3,172 rockets had been successfully launched, killing thousands of civilians and dispelling any doubts that the Germans had invented an outstanding weapon of the future – years ahead of the Allies. In 1945, US soldiers were dispatched across Germany to seize completed V2s and the blueprints. Among them was 28-year-old Major Robert Staver, a mechanical engineer, who followed the US 1st Army into the Nordhausen factory on April 11, 1945.
‘The Germans’ cups were still warm when we arrived,’ he recalled when we met in California in 1986. He admitted that, bewitched by the sight of the rockets and such brilliant mechanical innovation, he had ignored the hundreds of corpses scattered across the area.
About 100 rockets were shipped to White Sands in New Mexico, but to understand them and develop rockets of their own, the Americans needed von Braun’s team, too. And that meant reaching them before the Russians. ‘These were geniuses 25 years ahead of us,’ gushed Staver. ‘My orders were to get the top rocket team in history. I decided to treat the Germans as normal, friendly human beings. Otherwise we wouldn’t get their co-operation.’
Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt issued solemn wartime pledges to prosecute all Nazi war criminals, promises that Staver and his bosses decided to ignore.
The secret journey of the rocket scientists from Nordhausen to America’s Apollo space programme involved an astonishing conspiracy between US army officers and a handful of complicit Washington bureaucrats. In September 1945, following rapid negotiations with Staver and other American officers, von Braun and a small group of his senior aides were flown to El Paso, Texas.
American law explicitly ruled out permanent residence for incriminated Nazis, so they were contracted to stay in America ‘temporarily’ for a few months while they were debriefed. The scheme was known as Operation Paperclip. Later, a further 118 members of his team were flown from Germany. While Yves Beon and other victims of the Nazis struggled to keep body and soul together in wartorn Europe, von Braun lived well on $750 a month plus unlimited free food, comfortable accommodation and generous healthcare.
It wasn’t only engineering expertise that the Americans lacked – they wanted medical information, too. In a parallel operation, American air force officers led by Colonel Harry Armstrong negotiated a deal with Dr Hubertus Strughold, the leader of Germany’s aviation doctors.
Strughold and other specialists had developed techniques to protect Luftwaffe pilots flying at high altitudes. German designs for pressurised cockpits, G-suits and oxygen masks to avoid blackouts were far more advanced than anything available in America or Britain – but that was not surprising, since the German research had been conducted by testing human ‘guinea pigs’ at the Dachau concentration camp.
Inmates had been locked into pressurised chambers by doctors to test the limits of their endurance. The filmed experiments recorded the inmates’ excruciating deaths.
In early 1946, Armstrong decided to ignore the doctors’ crimes. For him, as for Staver, morality was not an issue. The principles of justice for which millions had died during the war were ignored. ‘They were scientists, after all,’ as Armstrong told another, similarly complacent officer. So Strughold and 37 other German specialists were flown to Wright Field, a US air force base in Ohio.
Armstrong had twin motives: to develop America’s aviation medicine, but also to protect the Germans from prosecution as war criminals in American military courts in Nuremberg. With remarkable foresight, Armstrong ordered the medics to focus on how man could survive in space and, in 1969, Strughold was acclaimed among the heroes of Armstrong’s walk on the Moon. No one asked questions about his wartime crimes.
This state of affairs was in part testimony to the skill of Colonel Walter Rozamus, the US army officer in charge of Operation Paperclip at the Pentagon and a man determined to overcome the American laws that explicitly forbade Nazis from staying in the US. By 1946, the German scientists wanted permanent contracts and wished to be reunited with their families. Yet security files compiled by US army investigators in Germany made their Nazi affiliations all too clear.
Herbert Axster, von Braun’s assistant, was described as ‘a notorious supporter and profiteer of the Nazi regime’. Kurt Debus, Apollo’s second-in-command, had been a member of the Brown Shirts and the SS and was guilty of denouncing an innocent German to the Gestapo to remove a rival scientist.
Von Braun was described as ‘an ardent Nazi’ and a ‘potential security threat’. Investigators had discovered that, in 1931, Rudolph had marched through Berlin in a brown Stormtrooper uniform holding a flaming torch and singing the Nazi anthems of racial hatred. He was classified as ‘100 per cent Nazi, dangerous type’ and recommended for imprisonment. By now, Rudolph and 134 rocket experts were living in New Mexico and Rozamus was determined to keep them there.
His next obstacle was Samuel Klaus, an officer in the visa section of the State Department, the equivalent of Britain’s Home Office. Klaus, a Jewish lawyer, had toured Europe in 1945 and was appalled by the atrocities. He understood better than most the terrible crimes committed by German scientists.
Outraged by the Pentagon’s attempt to ignore the truth, Klaus refused to allow von Braun’s team to become American citizens. None of them, he said, was so vital that their expertise could not be extracted within six months. After that, they must be returned to Germany. In the Pentagon, Rozamus and his superiors fumed. ‘Get that little Jew off the committee,’ ordered Major Simpson of the Pentagon’s intelligence section during a conversation in Washington with Klaus’s superior.
‘What the Germans did during the war was irrelevant,’ recalled another army officer. ‘We had to keep the scientists out of the Russians’ hands.’ So, with the support of senior politicians, Klaus was removed from the visa section.
The next step was to sanitise the security records. Paperclips were attached to all the files requiring attention and American officers in Germany were told to ‘rewrite’ reports, allowing the Pentagon and State Department to form ‘a different interpretation’. Overnight, Herbert Axster, von Braun’s assistant, was given ‘a clear record’. Rudolph was declared to be ‘not an ardent Nazi’. Von Braun’s revised report said his records had been lost in the Soviet zone of Germany and that ‘no derogatory information’ was available.
The path to permanent residence was now clear and, for the most important of the Nazi scientists, US citizenship soon followed. Protecting Nazi mass murderers was by now a favoured – if secret – policy in Washington. In 1949, the CIA invented the ‘Ratline’ to help their German agents and informants to escape Europe to South America. Among the first to flee was Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief known as the Butcher of Lyons.
Not merely rehabilitated but thoroughly respected, in September 1962 von Braun met President Kennedy in Huntsville, Alabama. As the chief director of the American Apollo programme, von Braun had arranged for Kennedy to witness the test firing of a Saturn rocket, the type that would eventually deliver Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the Moon.
Charismatic and smiling, von Braun greeted the President as if he were a close friend and, together, the two men watched as the orange flames spurted out of the base and the rocket launched successfully. Turning to Kennedy, von Braun said: ‘I will fulfil your promise to put a man on the Moon by the end of this decade. And by God we’ll do it.’
Von Braun was simply too important for the Americans to allow his murderous past to interfere. A clutch of war criminals had now become Cold War heroes.
Wernher von Braun would die in 1977 in Virginia without a blemish on his reputation. Arthur Rudolph was less fortunate. In 1984, Eli Rosenbaum, a zealous lawyer in the US Office of Special Investigations, forced Rudolph to renounce his American citizenship and return to Germany. ‘I’m really angry,’ Rudolph told me before leaving America for ever. ‘I helped put the first man – an American – on the Moon and then I was treated like this.’ He died in 1996 in Hamburg aged 89. He was never brought to justice for his wartime barbarity.
Today, we know the truth in all its terrible detail. Yet there was no mention of these monstrous crimes during last week’s celebrations of the astonishing Moon landing 50 years ago. Why? The victims of their achievement deserved better. READ MORE
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