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Offline Tom Bishop

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NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« on: June 06, 2015, 03:27:33 AM »
I am leading a campaign to demand a public apology from NASA for harboring the Nazi War Criminal Werner Von Braun. During the war he was a colonel in the SS and directly oversaw the slave labor camps which built the V2 ballistic rockets. Von braun was also a personal acquaintance of Hitler.

After the war Von Braun was brought to the US he was made director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and served as the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle. His history was whitewashed and it is claimed he either that he knew nothing of the atrocities committed at Dora and Mittelwerk or that he was powerless to stop it. He is portrayed in his NASA biography as a jolly scientist who resented the Nazis, was apolitical, and was only pursuing his life-long interest in rocketry.

This is, in fact, false.

A survivor's account from Wernher von Braun, the SS, and Concentration Camp Labor: Questions of Moral, Political, and Criminal Responsibility:
 
Quote
Like the good Nazi he was, he immediately started shouting that it was
sabotage, when just at that point VON BRAUN arrived accompanied by
his usual group of people. Without even listening to my explanations, he
ordered the Meister to have me given 25 strokes in his presence by an SS
[man] who was there. Then judging the strokes weren't sufficiently hard,
he ordered that I be flogged more vigorously, and this order was then
diligently carried out, which caused much hilarity in the group, and
following this flogging, VON BRAUN made me translate that I deserved
much more, that in fact I deserved to be hanged, which certainly would be
the fate of the "Mensch" (good-for nothing) I was.

A quote from an article called  The Rocket Man’s Dark Side, published by TIME:

Quote
Indeed, some 20,000 died at Dora, from illness, beatings, hangings and intolerable working conditions. Workers, scantily clad, were forced to stand at attention in the biting cold during roll calls that went on for hours. Average survival time in the unventilated paint shop was one month. One prisoner told of being bitten on his legs by guard dogs. Presumably to test the effectiveness of a new medication, one of his legs was treated, the other allowed to fester and deteriorate.

For reasons best known to von Braun, who held the rank of colonel in the dreaded Nazi SS, the prisoners were ordered to turn their backs whenever he came into view. Those caught stealing glances at him were hung. One survivor recalled that von Braun, after inspecting a rocket component, charged, "That is clear sabotage." His unquestioned judgment resulted in eleven men being hanged on the spot. Says Gehrels, "von Braun was directly involved in hangings."

Hangings were commonplace, and Dora inmates remember von Braun arriving in the morning with an unidentified woman, having to step between bodies of dead prisoners and under others still hanging from a crane. These were not ordinary hangings, Gehrels says, "not hanging that breaks the neck of the prisoner, but they were slowly choked to death with a kind of baling wire around their neck."

The above pieces are well researched and paint a bleak picture of Von Braun. Why couldn't NASA have taken the high road and focused on its own rocket scientists? Werner Von Braun should have been put in prison and sentenced to death as a war criminal, not made a director of NASA.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 06:30:42 AM by Tom Bishop »

Re: NASA ows us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2015, 03:12:56 PM »
Are you just leading this campaign here, or do you have a link for a petition or something?
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Offline Tom Bishop

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2015, 03:31:22 PM »
I was thinking about taking this to some liberal newspapers, but a petition is a good idea too. Perhaps a whitehouse.gov petition?
« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 03:34:11 PM by Tom Bishop »

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Offline Tau

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2015, 05:05:36 AM »
No offense, but this feels like a cheap shot to me. I agree that it was messed up for NASA to harbor literal Nazis, and I think they should absolutely make some public statement of apology about it, but how will this look for the society? Attacking NASA based on its past and trying to embarrass them. People might interpret it as us being petty
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Offline Tom Bishop

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2015, 11:24:16 PM »
We are doing something very moral and humanitarian by bringing this issue to light. The topic of NASA's history is brought up frequently here, but not many regular people are exposed to NASA's dark past. Scholars like us who are looking into these issues have a social responsibiliy to get this information out there. Regardless of RE vs FE, what NASA did was wrong and an apology should be issued.

Furthermore, this platform also brings up important questions of credibility. Are we supposed to believe that NASA harbored the most evil criminals on the planet within their ranks, appointed them to high positions in their governance, and then take their word of scientific achievements without question?
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 11:56:46 PM by Tom Bishop »

Yaakov ben Avraham

Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2015, 11:31:05 PM »
The problem, Tom, is that most historians already know that NASA had assholes working for them. The justification is that Asshole Nazis working for us were better than Asshole Nazis working for the Soviets. Somehow that makes it all better in the minds of most Americans.

Its really no different then when FDR said, "Somoza (the President [dictator] of Nicaragua) is a son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a-bitch." Americans have never had a major problem with sons of bitches, as long as they worked with us, and not our enemies. Most Americans know perfectly well that if it were not for German ex-Nazis, we would not HAVE a space program (call it what you will, if you believe it real or fake), and we likely wouldn't have a military that was much more advanced than that of Mexico.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 11:33:16 PM by Yaakov ben Avraham »

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Offline Tom Bishop

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2015, 05:36:49 AM »
The idea of NASA harbouring war criminals is absolutely vile, no matter the purpose. The crimes committed are unforgivable. Von Braun and Co. should have been sent to prison and sentenced for their crimes like the other Nazis. Von Braun wasn't just some scientist. He was a colonel in the SS. A colonel is a senior officer military rank one step below the general ranks. At the postwar Nuremberg trials, the SS was deemed a criminal organization for its direct involvement in war crimes. Von Braun was directly involved in slavery and torture and murder and those things cannot simply be hand-waved away.

Historians may already know of some of this, but apparently they are not doing anything about it. Well, I am. I am bringing this issue to public attention and demanding that NASA apologies to the world for protecting and supporting murderers like Werner Von Braun.

Yaakov ben Avraham

Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2015, 06:00:27 AM »
Tom, my friend, I am inclined to agree with you, of course. Being a Jew, I would be an ass if I didn't. I am just saying that you are facing a serious uphill battle, that is all. I admire your indefatigable nature.

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2015, 12:19:31 PM »
The idea of NASA harbouring war criminals is absolutely vile, no matter the purpose. The crimes committed are unforgivable. Von Braun and Co. should have been sent to prison and sentenced for their crimes like the other Nazis. Von Braun wasn't just some scientist. He was a colonel in the SS. A colonel is a senior officer military rank one step below the general ranks. At the postwar Nuremberg trials, the SS was deemed a criminal organization for its direct involvement in war crimes. Von Braun was directly involved in slavery and torture and murder and those things cannot simply be hand-waved away.

Historians may already know of some of this, but apparently they are not doing anything about it. Well, I am. I am bringing this issue to public attention and demanding that NASA apologies to the world for protecting and supporting murderers like Werner Von Braun.

Why don't you concentrate on the current relationships the U.S. holds with known human rights abusers?  Seems a much more relevant use of time than prosecuting the dead.

Why is this in FEG anyway?
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Offline markjo

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2015, 12:23:30 PM »
The idea of NASA harbouring war criminals is absolutely vile, no matter the purpose. The crimes committed are unforgivable. Von Braun and Co. should have been sent to prison and sentenced for their crimes like the other Nazis.
Unfortunately, there really isn't any indisputable evidence of Von Braun's level of involvement in these war crimes.
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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2015, 04:22:34 PM »
We are doing something very moral and humanitarian by bringing this issue to light...Scholars like us who are looking into these issues have a social responsibility to get this information out there.

I can only speak to what you've produced here, but you're not doing any scholarship.  You're not bringing any new issues to light, and the information you're using is already "out there."  That's how you found it.

The first source you provide is authored and published by NASA.  The only reason you know it exists at all is because NASA documented it; it's not because of any scholarship on your part.  And its publication runs directly counter to your argument that NASA is somehow keeping it from the public's attention.

It also doesn't agree with you.  Immediately after that quote, the author writes:

Quote
Morand goes on to state that he was known as "one of the inventors of the "V2" and made frequent "rapid inspections" of the hall.

The administration of corporal punishment in the tunnels, as opposed to the camp, would have been quite unusual, but we have no reason to doubt the story altogether. Yet it may rest on a case of mistaken identity. In September 1944 Wernher von Braun assigned his younger brother Magnus, a twenty-five-year-old chemical engineer and Luftwaffe pilot, as his special liaison to the Mittelwerk, particularly for servomotor production, which was afflicted with serious technical problems. Although still an employee of Peenemunde, Magnus von Braun stayed in the Nordhausen area full-time until the evacuation of April 1945. In contrast, his elder brother visited the Mittelwerk, by his estimates, twelve or fifteen times in total. Morand gives the time of the incident as the "second half of 1944," which corresponds to Magnus von Braun's assignment to the factory, and the testimonial never actually gives "von Braun" a first name.

Morand's story necessarily brings Jouanin's identification into question, as both deal with the servomotors. Although Jouanin's first instinct on timing was early May 1944, when I wrote him about it, he was less than certain. The description of a man in his thirties he saw only once fits Wernher von Braun better than Magnus, however. In the end, it is impossible to say with certainty that Georges Jouanin's identification of Wernher von Braun can be accepted as meeting a reasonable standard of certainty, as believable as I find it personally. Nor can we conclude with assurance that Magnus von Braun was responsible for either incident. For purposes of drawing up a balance sheet of Werher von Braun' s involvement with the SS and the concentration camps, therefore, we have little choice but to leave all stories of abuse aside.

Cherry-picking quotes from sources you claim are hiding things from you isn't scholarship.

Historians may already know of some of this, but apparently they are not doing anything about it. Well, I am. I am bringing this issue to public attention and demanding that NASA apologies to the world for protecting and supporting murderers like Werner Von Braun.

What positive steps have you taken to bring this issue to the public's attention?  I mean, the historians you're so quick to criticize (and upon whose scholarship you're relying) have actually collected primary and secondary source material on the subject, analyzed it, and published it for public consumption.  That sounds like a lot more than you've done, which to my count is make a post on a web forum visited by about a dozen regular users.
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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2015, 05:39:16 PM »
Why don't you concentrate on the current relationships the U.S. holds with known human rights abusers?
It's not exactly relevant to the MO of this society, is it? I'm sure there are plenty of pressure groups already dealing with that, and if there aren't, I'm sure it'll be easy for you to set one up!
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Offline Tom Bishop

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2015, 06:36:14 PM »
We are doing something very moral and humanitarian by bringing this issue to light...Scholars like us who are looking into these issues have a social responsibility to get this information out there.

I can only speak to what you've produced here, but you're not doing any scholarship.  You're not bringing any new issues to light, and the information you're using is already "out there."  That's how you found it.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scholar

Quote
scholar
[skol-er]
noun
1. a learned or erudite person, especially one who has profound knowledge of a particular subject.

Quote from: garygreen
It also doesn't agree with you.  Immediately after that quote, the author writes:

Quote
Morand goes on to state that he was known as "one of the inventors of the "V2" and made frequent "rapid inspections" of the hall.

The administration of corporal punishment in the tunnels, as opposed to the camp, would have been quite unusual, but we have no reason to doubt the story altogether. Yet it may rest on a case of mistaken identity. In September 1944 Wernher von Braun assigned his younger brother Magnus, a twenty-five-year-old chemical engineer and Luftwaffe pilot, as his special liaison to the Mittelwerk, particularly for servomotor production, which was afflicted with serious technical problems. Although still an employee of Peenemunde, Magnus von Braun stayed in the Nordhausen area full-time until the evacuation of April 1945. In contrast, his elder brother visited the Mittelwerk, by his estimates, twelve or fifteen times in total. Morand gives the time of the incident as the "second half of 1944," which corresponds to Magnus von Braun's assignment to the factory, and the testimonial never actually gives "von Braun" a first name.

Morand's story necessarily brings Jouanin's identification into question, as both deal with the servomotors. Although Jouanin's first instinct on timing was early May 1944, when I wrote him about it, he was less than certain. The description of a man in his thirties he saw only once fits Wernher von Braun better than Magnus, however. In the end, it is impossible to say with certainty that Georges Jouanin's identification of Wernher von Braun can be accepted as meeting a reasonable standard of certainty, as believable as I find it personally. Nor can we conclude with assurance that Magnus von Braun was responsible for either incident. For purposes of drawing up a balance sheet of Werher von Braun' s involvement with the SS and the concentration camps, therefore, we have little choice but to leave all stories of abuse aside.

Cherry-picking quotes from sources you claim are hiding things from you isn't scholarship.

Historians may already know of some of this, but apparently they are not doing anything about it. Well, I am. I am bringing this issue to public attention and demanding that NASA apologies to the world for protecting and supporting murderers like Werner Von Braun.

Magnus Von Braun was a chemical engineer and a pilot. He only visited those plants a few times. Werner Von Braun was the SS Colonel in charge.

The prisoners speak of having to turn their heads away from Von Braun whenever he came into view, lest they be hanged on the spot. Who are they more likely to be talking about, Werner Von Braun or his brother?

A prisoner relays a memory that Von Bron approached him with his usual group of people and commanded the Master in charge to have him flogged. Who is the more likely suspect in that story, the SS Colonel in charge or a visiting engineer and pilot?

The idea that Magnus Von Braun was the one running around committing these atrocities is simply unfounded and ridiculous. Not to mention that these freed prisoners were specifically asked about Werner Von Braun.

The survivor in the flogging story even goes on to describe:

Quote
Morand goes on to state that he was known as "one of the inventors of the "V2" and made frequent "rapid inspections" of the hall.

So clearly, he was talking about Werner Von Braun, not his brother who visited a few times. The author of the article even states that we have no reason to doubt his story.

Quote from: garygreen
What positive steps have you taken to bring this issue to the public's attention?  I mean, the historians you're so quick to criticize (and upon whose scholarship you're relying) have actually collected primary and secondary source material on the subject, analyzed it, and published it for public consumption.  That sounds like a lot more than you've done, which to my count is make a post on a web forum visited by about a dozen regular users.

I am reaching out to newspapers in attempt to get this story published. This is a matter the public deserves to know about.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 06:38:47 PM by Tom Bishop »

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2015, 07:17:04 PM »
It's not exactly relevant to the MO of this society, is it?
Fair enough, but I didn't think prosecuting nazi war criminals was either.
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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2015, 07:23:15 PM »
Fair enough, but I didn't think prosecuting nazi war criminals was either.
I think it's more about outing NASA for the deplorable organisation it is. I'll admit that it's a bit of a stretch, but it's not that big of one.
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Offline markjo

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2015, 07:32:47 PM »
Quote
scholar
[skol-er]
noun
1. a learned or erudite person, especially one who has profound knowledge of a particular subject.
And what exactly are your credentials showing that you are "erudite" and/or have a "profound knowledge" of this particular subject?  A brown belt in Google-fu doesn't count.
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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2015, 12:33:06 AM »
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scholar
1. a learned or erudite person, especially one who has profound knowledge of a particular subject.

Right.  You don't display a profound knowledge of this particular subject.  You've just pasted a couple of quotes from some other people who do.  Good work?

Quote from: Tom Bishop
So clearly, he was talking about Werner Von Braun, not his brother who visited a few times. The author of the article even states that we have no reason to doubt his story.

At this point you're going out of your way to misrepresent your own author: "...We have no reason to doubt the story altogether. Yet it may rest on a case of mistaken identity. In September 1944 Wernher von Braun assigned his younger brother Magnus, a twenty-five-year-old chemical engineer and Luftwaffe pilot, as his special liaison to the Mittelwerk, particularly for servomotor production, which was afflicted with serious technical problems. Although still an employee of Peenemunde, Magnus von Braun stayed in the Nordhausen area full-time until the evacuation of April 1945. In contrast, his elder brother visited the Mittelwerk, by his estimates, twelve or fifteen times in total."

You're don't represent your own sources honestly, and you haven't done any scholarship of your own.  Since your authors obviously disagree with your conclusions, and since they actually are scholars on the subject (presumably), then I'm not sure why you think you have any credibility on the matter.

Quote from: Tom Bishop
I am reaching out to newspapers in attempt to get this story published. This is a matter the public deserves to know about.

So you're saying that the public is poorly informed on the information you discovered in (waitforit) Time Magazine...  So you're reaching out to newspapers to

lol nevermind it's cool this is an awesome plan 10/10

« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 12:34:39 AM by garygreen »
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Offline Tom Bishop

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2015, 05:46:10 PM »
The only reason the brother Magnus is mentioned in the article is because that's the rebuttal given by Werner Von Braun supporters when affronted by war crime claims. "It might have been his brother!" Lame. In the next paragraph the author continues:

Quote
The description of a man in his thirties he saw only once fits Wernher von Braun better than Magnus, however.

Quote from: garygreen
So you're saying that the public is poorly informed on the information you discovered in (waitforit) Time Magazine...  So you're reaching out to newspapers to

The world deserves an apology from NASA, regardless if some people already knew about this.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 03:32:12 PM by Tom Bishop »

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Offline markjo

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Re: NASA owes us an apology for Werner Von Braun
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2015, 03:57:23 AM »
The world deserves apologies from a lot of people for worse crimes than those that Werner Von Braun may or may not have committed.  I wouldn't hold my breath.
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