Klaus Reidel Mittelschule - Operation Paperclip and celebrating weapons scientists in Germany and the USA - even the Moon
The V2 kindergarten: British fury as Germans name school after maker of WWII terror rocket screams the headline in the Daily Mail today.
Klaus Riedel worked on the V2 rockets at Peenemunde over 50 years ago (he died in 1944 in a car crash, 2 days before his 37th birthday, before the war ended) and his name has been just been attached by the burghers of Bernstadt auf dem Eigen, Saxony (in what as E.Germany), where the Middle School was renamed the Klaus Riedel School in his honour ... er .. in September 2007. He was a pupil at the school in Bernstadt where he was brought up on his grandmother's farm after he was orphaned at the age of 14. The town erected a memorial dedicated to him in 1993 and a museum that celebrates his work as a rocket engineer and apparently in 1970 someone named a crater on the Moon in his memory - it is a lunar impact crater on the Dark Side of the Moon, NNE of Karrer crater and due S of the Leavitt crater.
The desire to rename the school after him has been the subject of a 3 year long campaign by the town and mayor of Bernstadt , Gunter Lange. It has also been the subject of crticism led by Astrid Günther-Schmidt, a member of the Saxony state parliament for the Greens . The town website is evdently very proud of their native son and also its MittelSchule which has it's own website.
Riedel developed what was initially the "Aggregat 4" -- but was subsequently better known as the "Vergeltungswaffe 2," or V-2, a title chosen by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels -- in joint experiments together with fellow rocket pioneers Hermann Oberth and Wernher von Braun. The V-2 can be regarded as the archetype of all subsequent civil space rockets -- as well as all long-range military missiles.
Reidl was apparently never in the SS unlike Werner von Braun, who was snapped up by the Americans in Operation Paperclip and masterminded the US post war development in rocketry, ICBM's and ultimately moon landing.
Ernst Steinhoff, survived the war and was like Braun virtually kidnapped by the US. He had been the guidance department chief at Hitler's V-1 and V-2 test facility at Peenemunde in northern Germany. Once brought to the U.S., the Nazi rocketeers test range moved to New Mexico and the White Sands Proving Ground. One hundred copies of Hitler's V-2 and over 100 former Nazi rocket scientists created the U.S. space program.
Sternhoff went on to work in the aerospace industry on the west coast and eventually
returned to New Mexico when he was appointed to a high position at Holloman AFB.
Sternhoff's daughter did not learn about the Nazi holocaust or of her father's wartime role, until she was 18 years old. When she approached her mother asking if it was true, her mother said it was necessary and retrieved an old Readers Digest article to explain her side of the story.
The Nazi rocket program in Germany killed tens of thousands of Jews, French Resistance fighters, Communists, homosexuals, and prisoners of war, who were all used as slave labor to build Hitler's V-1 and V-2 rocket program. (For more information about this story read Secret Agenda by Linda Hunt.) According to Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education, around 12,000 people were killed directly by the rockets and their onton explosive payload, mainly in London and Antwerp.
Ernst Steinhoff was inducted in the New Mexico Museum of Space History, P O Box 5430, Alamogordo, New Mexico 88311-5430 ... er .... Klaus Reidel was also inducted there in 1976.
You can find some fascinating history about what Steinhoff did at Peenemunde here .
Steinhoff's brother was on German submarines in the war and eventually he joined his brother, and it it was through this connection that the first submarine launched missiles were developed in the US.
Pic is of prisoners at work in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp -- one of the cruellest in the Third Reich -- where more than 20,000 internees / prisoners had to work on the mass production of the complex V2 mechanisms.
More - Peenemünde Historical Technical Information Center, Peenemunde