The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemunde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era

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9780029228951: The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemunde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era

Relates the story of the German development of missile technology, a new kind of warfare that was extremely valuable to Allied powers during the Cold War but of little value to the Germans during World War II.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A dry history of the Nazi rocket program, concentrating on the development of liquid fuels for missiles. Neufeld, curator of WW II history at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, traces the history of the V-2 ballistic missiles catapulted by the Nazis on London and Paris. He discusses the various men who participated in the secret research at the rocket center Peenem nde, most notably wunderkind German aristocrat Wernher von Braun. Of more modest social status, but equally important, was Walter Dornberger, who administered the program. Neufeld's revisionist thesis is that the scientists were not all fanatics devoted to Hitler's cause. Yet the fact is, though Peenem nde was originally supported by industrialists, it eventually became one of Hitler's favored projects, and its scientists stood tall for the Third Reich. Many of them worked surreptitiously for German rearmament even before the war. Neufeld often verges on being an apologist for these men who used their genius for the Nazi cause while slave labor put the finishing touches on the instruments of war. He drones on in the manner of an official military historian, also dealing with the rivalries of bureaucratic ``empires'' within the Reich--intelligence, propaganda, etc.--as they jockeyed for Hitler's favor. In a book about rocketry one naturally expects some scientific discussion, but Neufeld's text is far too technical for nonspecialists. He is quite right in pointing out the irony of the Nazi rocket program's contributions to the Cold War: Victorious Americans and Soviets took German scientists as war booty to feed their own military machines, and Von Braun became a major force in NASA. Neufeld deserves his due for thorough research of both German and American archives, but his analysis is questionable and the writing is not up to the potential of the narrative. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Based on previously untapped sources, Neufeld's comprehensive history of German rocket research and development during WWII includes an analysis of Hitler's indirect involvement with the Peenemunde-based project and SS chief Heinrich Himmler's ultimate domination of it. The study reveals how the decision came about to use slave labor from the concentration camps to manufacture the terrifying "buzz bombs" that, according to Neufeld, had minimal effect on the course of the war. He presents solid evidence that the project's technical director-Wernher von Braun, who later headed NASA's rock booster program-was an SS officer, and describes his 1944 arrest accused of sabotaging the A-4 project by concentrating more on space flight than on his duties. Von Braun was freed after several days. The author discusses the postwar rebirth of the rocket program at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., where von Braun and several of his Peenemunde colleagues played a historic role in the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile and the space-launch vehicle. Neufeld, curator of WWII history at the National Air and Space Museum, has written a major study of the Nazi rocket program. Illustrations.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Neufeld, Michael J.
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