February 23, 2009, - 12:12 pm

Yet Another Nazi Dies in the Comfort of . . . America

By Debbie Schlussel
In the past, I’ve written about how I enjoy reading the “Remembrances” feature, which appears in the Saturday Wall Street Journal. They are articles about unsung people who died recently. Usually, they consist of great Americans–inventors and entrepreneurs–but sometimes, the recently deceased so featured are not so admirable.
Such is the case with Konrad Dannenberg, designer of the V-2 rockets used to attack Allied lands during World War II. As I read the WSJ article, I knew that Dannenberg was a Nazi. My late grandfather Isaac, a Holocaust survivor, was forced to work on the V-2 and helped build these rockets at one of the many concentration and death camps, where he struggled to survive. So, I was disappointed to read that Mr. Dannenberg, who died last week, passed on in Huntsville, Alabama. Why does this Nazi get to live a full life and die in the U.S.?, I asked myself.


Astronaut Wally Schirra & Former Nazi Konrad Dannenberg of NASA

Of course, it was a rhetorical question. As we all know, the U.S., sadly, brought many Nazi war criminals into the country and gave them essentially full immunity, if they would help us in the sciences or in combating Communists. Dannenberg contributed greatly to the U.S. space program and is in large part credited with putting Americans on the moon.

Konrad Dannenberg helped design the engine of the German V-2 rockets that terrorized Antwerp and London during World War II. He later helped forge the Saturn V rockets that took U.S. astronauts to the moon. . . .
[He] contributed to many space milestones, from the Army Redstone missiles to early designs for the U.S. space station. After retiring from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1973, he served along with other German space veterans as a tour guide at local rocket displays around Huntsville, home to the Marshall Space Flight Center. . . .
Mr. Dannenberg served briefly in the German army during the invasion of France. He then joined Werner von Braun’s rocket-development team at Peenemunde, a village on an island in the Baltic where the German army had gathered a scientific elite for weapons development. Like many of the scientists, Mr. Dannenberg was also a member of the Nazi Party, having joined in 1932, according to the book “Missiles for the Fatherland: Peenemunde, National Socialism, and the V-2 Missile,” by Michael B. Petersen. . . .
After the war, Mr. Dannenberg was one of 117 German rocket scientists, including Mr. von Braun, brought to the U.S. to jump-start America’s missile program. After a few years working on Army missiles at Fort Bliss in Texas, the team was transferred to the Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, where work on ballistic missiles began in earnest, including the Redstone and Jupiter systems that carried nuclear weapons.
The sudden appearance of dozens of Germans who had worked for the German wehrmacht was initially unsettling to some. . . .
In 1960, Mr. Dannenberg was named deputy manager of the Saturn program, which was energized by President Kennedy’s call for a moonshot. “It makes you jittery to think of the pace at which we must move,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 1961. NASA awarded him its Distinguished Service Medal for his role in developing the Saturn, the largest rocket ever built.
After retiring, Mr. Dannenberg helped initiate Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville in 1984

Who knew that American space camps were developed by a Nazi?
Was it worthy to bring so many Nazis–like Dannenberg who joined the Nazi party in 1932–into America? Could we have made the gains we did in space and in defeating Communism, without them?
I think the answer to the second question is yes, we could have, though it would have been a lot tougher. And it’s regrettable that people whose work helped kill allied populations and send Jews to ovens never got their just reward. Yes, they were scientists and not SS guards or Gestapo members, but they were part of the Third Reich and knew which side they were on.
Konrad Dannenberg got to live to the age of 96 in freedom. Many of the victims of Hitler’s regime of which he was a part had their lives ended far too soon. I wonder if Mr. Dannenberg ever publicly renounced his Nazi party membership and, with it, Nazi party views on Jews and others. I wonder what he’d have said about the Jews in a casual conversation.
Sadly, America’s patriation of our enemies onto our soil didn’t end with the Nazis, and we’ve brought far worse vermin on our soil. We have several individuals–including a man associated with the Achille Lauro hijacking and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, and another man responsible for the Hezbollah bombings of 300 U.S. Marines and Embassy officials in Beirut. Both of these men are living on American soil, under the protection of the American government, under the guise that they are “helping us find bigger fish.” As if these fish, themselves, aren’t big enough to be fried.
And trust me, these Islamic terrorists given free reign here aren’t contributing even an infintesmal fraction of what Dannenberg did.
Konrad Dannenberg, you didn’t face real justice in this world. But at least some of your work was helpful to America. Still, did your help and aid to the U.S. somehow erase that you created weapons for a regime that murdered six million Jews and five million others?
I wonder what my late grandfather, who was forced to work on the V-2s in the camps, would say about this man’s long, grand life on American soil.

8 Responses

I wonder what would have happened if this creep Dannenberg had been treated like your grandfather. Your grandfather was forced to work on V-2s in the camps. Why wasn’t Dannenberg imprisoned and then forced to work on our program in the same manner? Of course the anti-Semitism rampant in this country prior to WW II did not suddenly disappear. it just submerged for a while and manifested itself in more indirect ways such as glorifying German criminal scientists.

c f on February 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm

But the NYT says he wasn’t a Nazi, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/us/23dannenberg.html, so it must be true right?

duris on February 23, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Duris: Didn’t you know there were two types of Germans–the ones who fought the Nazis and the ones who had no idea what was going on.

lexi on February 23, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Unfortunately our government has varying shades of grey when it comes to dealing with vermin.

Wolvercote on February 24, 2009 at 7:58 am

Don’t you think there’s a possibility that maybe he didn’t have much of a choice? The Nazis didn’t like being said no to. I hate Nazism and everything it stands for as much as anyone, but it’s pretty awful to level charges against someone like this after they die, with zero proof. Shame on you Debbie Schlussel.

retards on April 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Dear Debbie,

He was a scientist above all. Perhaps you’re too young to remember the pride we real Americans had to have our men touch the Moon first! There were no African/Irish/????American to instill pride like President Kennedy. Konrad Dannenberg helped make our Country the Greatest!

Sean on May 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm

well Konrad was my great uncle and frankly what you’ve written is wrong. He helped the US land the first man on the moon? Why should his life not be celebrated?

SK on August 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I came upon your blog while googling Dannenberg NAZI. You wrote this post a few years ago, but I saw a comment from 2012 and decided to post a few notes of my own. First, let me point people to The Economist’s Exit Albert Hirschman. Yes, an exceptionally intelligent German left Germany rather than obey the NAZIS. My family knew when I was growing up another, much less famous, German who moved to this country to escape NAZI rule. Some good people did get out.

Second, a few people praised the NAZI contributions to our space program. Hmm. It’s been 40 years since an American walked on the Moon. Since then, the now terminated space shuttle program failed to produce the routine, low cost access to space promised. Two disastrous shuttle accidents — killing 14 astronauts — and subsequent investigations showed NASA to be an agency with fundamental problems. The Columbia accident investigation cited culture as a real problem. I could go on for hours. I have given hour long talks to Mensa groups about NASA problems.

Charles J. Divine on January 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm

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