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Author Topic:   Wernher von Braun, Rocket Man (Buckbee)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 42981
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-17-2010 01:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wernher von Braun, The Rocket Man: His Weekly Notes, 1961-1969
Edited and researched by Ed Buckbee
To motivate, you must communicate. No one has taken this to heart any more than has Wernher von Braun. In my lifetime I've never seen anyone as adept in sharing a vision. Sharing, for von Braun, meant getting his audience to believe in his vision; to assume it as his or her own and become part of it.

Have you ever hung onto every word of a speech or scanned text eagerly from page to page? I have. My co-workers at Marshall Space Flight Center have. Aerospace leaders have. Congressmen have. The President of the United States has. Each of us has been in the audience of von Braun. As orator, author and editor, von Braun employed his communication prowess to advance the dream of landing man on the moon.

Von Braun combined his natural communication skills with disciplined deadlines and regular follow-up to bring out the same skills in his Marshall team. The result was a very motivated, cohesive group and an impressive collection of weekly notes -- about 10,000 pages -- all read by von Braun!

I've no doubt that if von Braun were alive today; he would be tweeting, texting, emailing and video-conferencing with his team and partners, all on a regular basis. A further thought, had he been with us over these last several years, perhaps those texts and emails would reveal that man had already established a Mars colony and journeyed even further to advance the space frontier.

In the documentary, you will meet Wernher von Braun as you hear from the people who worked closely with him. Study his personal notes and meet his extraordinary rocket team. Witness one of the memorable Saturn firings at von Braun's rocket factory. Share in the vision.

Sample quotes within the Weekly notes:

To Walter Haeussermann who has replied with a negative report: "I guess I haven't had any notes from Astrionics for 3 or 4 weeks. Have you stopped working, has your placed burned down or is it that you simply have no problems?" -- Wernher von Braun

To Hans Maus, concerning doing work for NASA-Houston: "Do we get reimbursed for this work? Houston (NASA) never misses an opportunity to put their hand in our pocket. I think we should reciprocate." -- Wernher von Braun

To his Deputy, Harry Gorman being informed Marshall Space Flight Center may have a janitorial strike: "Get me a broom. I'll sweep my own office." --Wernher von Braun

To Werner Kuers, requesting a briefing on the latest development in rocket fabrication: "Request a briefing on this subject by the most knowledgeable people we have. Please arrange." -- Werhner von Braun

To Fred Cline regarding a report that an employee's failure to recognize a corrosion material: "Who goofed? Please see to it that procedures are tightened. P.S. I'm not interested in name of culprit. I am interested in steps to prevent recurrence." -- Wernher von Braun

To Jim Bramlet/Matt Urland when informed that Boeing had submitted a Saturn V booster change order for several million dollars: "What's going on here?? If Boeing keeps operating like this, we'll be broke in no time! -- Wernher von Braun

To Karl Heimberg when informed delivery of moon rocket engines was delayed: "Just to remind you that you are on the Critical Path," -- Wernher von Braun

A signed DVD is now available for the cost of $19.95, postage and handling included. Purchase both, the book and DVD, for the cost of $65.00, postage and handling included.

Checks payable to:
Ed Buckbee, 47 Revere Way, Huntsville, AL 35801


Posts: 1096
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-18-2010 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems that there are only two kinds of books about Wernher von Braun.

One type, such as Ed Buckbee's book, are adoring biographies by those who were associated with von Braun when he was with NASA in Alabama or earlier.

The other type are critical approaches to von Braun, such as Michael Neufeld's "Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War," which von Braun's supporters claim are hatchet jobs.

I hope that with the passage of time someone will produce a biography that will be more objective, weighing both von Braun's great contributions to spaceflight as well as his World War 2 activities when he was a member of the Nazi party and an officer in the SS. We are perhaps too close in time to the subject to do so.


Posts: 1634
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-18-2010 08:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought Michael Neufeld's book was pretty well done. What issues in the book are questionable?


Posts: 1096
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-18-2010 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Michael Neufeld is a well-known space historian who has extensively researched and written about von Braun and his team's activities during World War 2. However, Neufeld approaches this topic with a definite point-of-view.

Ed Buckbee, Fred Ordway, Ernst Stuhlinger, and others have all written books with or about von Braun which glossed over von Braun's participation in World War 2, especially von Braun's use of slave labor under horrific conditions to produce the V2 and von Braun's status as an SS officer.

Neufeld documents in great detail what facts are available-- many of the pre-1945 documents were destroyed in the war. However, he does this with what I believe is an anti-von Braun bias.

I don't think Neufeld adequately takes into consideration the dilemma of scientists working in a dictatorship. After the fact, it is easy to condemn scientists who worked under Hitler, Stalin or Mao. What were their choices? What would you do under such circumstances where disobedience could lead to being imprisoned (as was von Braun), shot or worse?

Neufeld deserves credit for his research and scholarship but he certainly does not approach the subject in an unbiased way.

Tim Collins

Posts: 45
From: Harrisburg, PA
Registered: Mar 2007

posted 06-18-2010 10:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tim Collins   Click Here to Email Tim Collins     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well said; I completely agree with your sentiments.


Posts: 1634
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-22-2010 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've struggled with this issue for a long time. I have tremendous respect for von Braun; in fact I like him. But he knew very well what his inventions were to be used for. He also knew the Nazis were evil. And I'm sure he must have been concerned about his own welfare had he refused to participate. But was his life more important than that of thousands of slaves and Brits? And did he have to be so good at it? Why not sandbag a bit? This may have minimized the number of V2's hurled on England, and possibly reduced the number of slaves required to build his rockets. Just speculation, but I suspect that he was willing to sacrifice some of his morals in exchange for his rocket research. Perhaps Neufeld could have delved into these type issues a bit more, but I didn't think that he was overly one sided. My opinion only.


Posts: 6210
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 06-22-2010 11:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by MCroft04:
But was his life more important than that of thousands of slaves and Brits?

If we were him we would have probably done the same thing. Unless you're suicidal, which is the only other option available. I don't understand why people make an issue of out this. Maybe had the V2 been a critical weapon during the war, things would have been different.


Posts: 1328
From: Carrollton, GA USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 06-23-2010 07:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Look what happened to Rommel when he bucked the system. And Rommel was a high-profile national hero that most Germans loved and admired. In my opinion, had von Braun sandbagged or resisted he surely would have suffered the same fate (and I am not making excuses for WVB).


Posts: 2610
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 06-25-2010 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gilbert - one may indeed get into this sort of conscience issues while working for dictators. Some initial supporters in the military like Stauffenberg and his fellows did, and they gave their lives after their assault on the Fuehrer failed. Those last minute opponents do exist. Even though they were involved with Hitler's war, and even though they only acted when the war was already lost, they acted upon their conscience.

The all-important question, however, is: did von Braun ever make this sort of choice? At least once? Ever even had qualms about his involvement with the Nazis? Any trace? I don't think there is. I have not seen or read about any.

E2M Lem Man

Posts: 846
From: Los Angeles CA. USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 06-26-2010 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man   Click Here to Email E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have found references that the doctor had many times faced these conversations with everyone from his parents to SS officers who were torturing prisoners (admittedly this is the weakest story). But remember that Wernher was imprisoned by the SS for opinions he voiced...

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