atomic-flash:

V-2 Rocket Launch, 1943

The V-2 rocket was developed in Germany during WWII – its technical name was Aggregat 4 (A4), but the name used in general parlance was Vergeltungswaffe 2 (Retribution Weapon 2) or ‘vengeance weapon’ – as it was assigned to attack allied cities in retaliation for allied fire bombings perpetrated against heavily populated German cities.

Although it was the the world’s first long-range strategic missile, it was also a major technological breakthrough in the development of large rockets. Innovations included a rocket engine burning liquid oxygen and alcohol, pioneered use of turbo-pumps to pressure-feed the propellants into the rocket’s combustion chamber, a radio guidance system, and a gyroscopic system which corrected any course deviations.  

After WWII, several V-2 rockets were appropriated by the US and the USSR and became the ultimate rocket teaching tool for both states and their individual space programs. On 24 October 1946, the first photo from space was taken from a V-2 launched by US scientists.

image

Oh wait!
It’s not flat!

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captain-price-official:

gusgrissom:

spiritofapollo:

Slave laborers at the Dora Concentration Camp building V2 rockets for Wernher Von Braun. More: http://www.dora.uah.edu/slavelabor.html

These photos were taken by a Nazi-sanctioned photographer for propaganda purposes (note the staging, skilled rather than manual labor, clean clothes, relatively healthy-looking prisoners), and they’re still painful to look at. I can’t imagine how horrific the reality was.

At a minimum, 20,000 laborers died constructing V-2s. At the Mittelwerk underground factory in Kohnstein, 250 laborers died per day.

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footnoteinhistory:

footnoteinhistory:

I understand how and why it exists, and that there is little one can do to fix it, but the gap between academic historical knowledge and the popular understanding/interpretation of history is infuriating sometimes

For most of the last seventy years, the public at large has had a generally positive view of Wernher von Braun. It’s only in recent years, maybe the last decade, that information about his Nazi past has become more common knowledge, and he’s become a “controversial” figure. Not a villain, not an evil man, but someone whose legacy is “ultimately up to interpretation” in the public eye.

That’s, like… almost unbelievable. He isn’t complex. He isn’t complicated and enigmatic and mysterious. This is very clear to anyone who has spent any amount of time seriously studying the guy.

He was a Nazi and member of the SS. He played an active role in acquiring slave labors to work in his rocket factory, a hellish underground laboratory of death built inside a mountain. You literally could not come up with more evil circumstances if you tried.

He manipulated and duped the American military and government to escape punishment and get an incredible deal that allowed him to come to the U.S. and continue his work with no repercussions. All while laughing behind their backs. He felt no remorse or guilt or regret for his actions. No one held him accountable. He was arrogant, condescending, smug, slimy, immoral, opportunistic, infuriating. He was a talented engineer, but by no means irreplaceable – just a typically bright, run-of-the-mill guy. He also married a teenage girl half his age, if that factors into your opinion at all (and this is after the war, while he’s in the U.S.).

von Braun and the U.S. government worked very hard to shape and protect his image, to hide many of these facts from the public, so I can’t blame regular people for not knowing this stuff. But it is frustrating to see people, especially space fanatics, gloss over his past or idolize him as some brilliant engineer and American hero. He was laughing at America, he’d laugh at them. He enslaved human beings to build weapons to kill other human beings and he felt nothing. That isn’t “controversial.” That’s a staunch Nazi and that’s evil.

He created a weapon system that killed more people it than were its target.

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captain-price-official:

gusgrissom:

spiritofapollo:

Slave laborers at the Dora Concentration Camp building V2 rockets for Wernher Von Braun. More: http://www.dora.uah.edu/slavelabor.html

These photos were taken by a Nazi-sanctioned photographer for propaganda purposes (note the staging, skilled rather than manual labor, clean clothes, relatively healthy-looking prisoners), and they’re still painful to look at. I can’t imagine how horrific the reality was.

At a minimum, 20,000 laborers died constructing V-2s. At the Mittelwerk underground factory in Kohnstein, 250 laborers died per day.

An estimated 2,754 civilians were killed in London by V-2 attacks with another 6,523 injured, which is two people killed per V-2 rocket. However, this understates the potential of the V-2, since many rockets were misdirected and exploded harmlessly.

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