Wernher von Braun Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1912-1977 *** Full Name: Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun *** Occupation: German Aerospace Engineer and Space Architect *** Date of Birth: Wernher von Braun was born on March 23rd 1912 *** Place of Birth: Wernher von Braun was born in Wirsitz in the Province of Posen in Poland part of Prussia and the German Empire *** Family background: His father was Magnus Freiherr von Braun and was a Minister of Agriculture in the Reich Cabinet and his mother was Emmy von Quistorp. The family was of noble birth, his mother’s line going back many generations into European royalty *** Early life and childhood: Wernher von Braun grew up with an older brother Sigismund and a younger brother Magnus, he had a very privileged upbringing *** Education: Wernher von Braun attended a boarding school at Ettersburg Castle and then on to the Hermann-Lietz-Internat and later would attend the Technical University of Berlin *** Wernher von Braun died on June 16, 1977.
Wernher von Braun Fact 1: Wernher von Braun was born on March 23rd 1912 and during the 20th century period in history when great strides were being made in technology, medicine and aviation.
Wernher von Braun Fact 2: After he had received his Lutheran Confirmation as a gift his mother presented him with a telescope and he soon developed a great passion for astronomy.
Wernher von Braun Fact 3: He would have an indecisive and complicated relationship with the Third Reich and the Nazi regime. He did apply for membership to the Nazi Party in November of 1937.
Wernher von Braun Fact 4: There is some controversy about when he actually joined the Nazi party by his own free will or, as he would later tell the U.S. Army, that he joined the Party by force. Wernher von Braun was involved heavily in work that was extremely important to him, and had he refused TO JOIN, he would have been unable to continue. Wernher von Braun maintained that he had no political involvement with the Nazis.
Wernher von Braun Fact 5: He would also later claim a similar reason for joining the SS, again citing it was crucial to his work.
Wernher von Braun Fact 6: In 1934 Wernher von Braun would be responsible for the production of two rockets that rose to around two miles high.
Wernher von Braun Fact 7: Using some of American physicist Goddard’s research von Braun was able to copy his plans and produced a series of rockets out of which the V-2 was created.
Wernher von Braun Fact 8: Goddard would at a later date confirm that von Braun had indeed copied his work after examining shrapnel from a V-2 rocket that crashed in Sweden and was sent to him for examination. The rockets at that time were being fired at England.
Wernher von Braun Fact 9: Von Braun later commented on his rockets that “I have very deep and sincere regret for the victims of the V-2 rockets, but there were victims on both sides... A war is a war, and when my country is at war, my duty is to help win that war.”
Wernher von Braun Fact 10: After the success of the V-2 rockets Hitler wanted more and so commission von Braun to proceed with another rocket, this time the A-4 which was required to be a “vengeance weapon”.
Wernher von Braun Fact 11: At this time the Soviet and British intelligence were very aware of what was happening and ordered a bombing raid on von Braun’s facility which succeeded in delaying the program.
Wernher von Braun Fact 12: Von Braun was understandably distraught over the use of his work. As far as he was concerned should have been used for space travel and not for killing people.
Wernher von Braun Fact 13: By 1945 the Soviet Army was very near Peenemunde where von Braun’s facility was, he gathered his staff, fully aware of the brutality of the Soviets towards the prisoners they decided to attempt a surrender to the Americans.
Wernher von Braun Fact 14: As things got worse in Germany von Braun’s team were sent away to the Bavarian Alps under orders to be executed before they fell into the hands of the Allies but von Braun managed to get the SS Major to disperse his team amongst the villages so as to be less conspicuous to which agreed and this in turn made surrendering easier when the time came which it did in May of 1945.
Wernher von Braun Fact 15: The American’s were very pleased to get their hands on Von Braun, he was one of the engineers on their Black List. It is believed however that the British were able to question him first and what they discovered remained a secret.
Wernher von Braun Fact 16: Von Braun and his team were transported to America, they had their personnel records “bleached” of all and any evidence of Nazism and new documents provided so that they could work in the United States.
Wernher von Braun Fact 17: At the beginning of the Korean War in 1950 von Braun and his team were relocated to Huntsville in Alabama where he would call home for the next twenty years. It was here that the team, led by Wernher von Braun, developed the Redstone Rocket used for the Live first Nuclear Ballistic Missile test conducted by the U.S.
Wernher von Braun Fact 18: Their next development would be the Jupiter-C and would be the West’s launch rocket for Explorer 1, the first satellite signaling the birth of America’s space program.
Wernher von Braun Fact 19: Von Braun would again find himself in the same predicament he did in Germany whereby he was pleasing his employer by building the rockets they wanted, while secretly building the rockets he wanted to use for space exploration. Wernher von Braun Fact 21: His vision was of three large spacecraft able to carry fifty astronauts in two and the third for cargo.
Wernher von Braun Fact 20: By 1952 the tide had turned and Wernher von Braun began publishing his concept of a manned space station in a magazine called Collier’s Weekly.
Wernher von Braun Fact 22: Wernher von Braun published his space station idea during the Cold War and it did not escape his notice that should his space station be armed with missiles the United States would have both orbit to ground and orbital superiority.
Wernher von Braun Fact 23: Eventually Wernher von Braun went to work for the newly formed NASA as the centre’s first director, between 1960 and 1970, on condition that his development of Saturn continued.
Wernher von Braun Fact 24: By 1973 during a regular physical check-up he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He continued to work to the best of his ability, he gave lectures in universities and colleges.
Wernher von Braun Fact 25: In 1977 Wernher von Braun was awarded the National Medal of Science but was unable to attend the White House to accept it.
Wernher von Braun Fact 26: Werher von Braun died on June 16, 1977 aged sixty five years in Alexandria, Virginia. His body was laid to rest at the Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria.
Influence & Legacy: Although Pennsylvania did not maintain the religious freedom in the way Penn had envisioned what it did managed to achieve was a secular state lead by commence. What was also event were his political and legal innovations that took root. The Quaker school, later to be renamed the Wernher von Braun Charter School would go on to become the oldest Quaker school in the world and a very reputable school.
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