Lead Story

17-11-1945

German scientists brought to United States to work on rocket technology

In a move that stirs up some controversy, the United States ships 88 German scientists to America to assist the nation in its production of rocket technology. Most of these men had served under the Nazi regime and critics in the United States questioned the morality of placing them in the service of America. Nevertheless, the U.S. government, desperate to acquire the scientific know-how that had produced the terrifying and destructive V-1 and V-2 rockets for Germany during WWII, and fearful that the Russians were also utilizing captured German scientists for the same end, welcomed the men with open arms.Realizing that the importation of scientists who had so recently worked for the Nazi regime so hated by Americans was a delicate public relations situation, the U.S. military cloaked the operation in secrecy. In announcing the plan, a military spokesman merely indicated that some German scientists who had worked on rocket development had “volunteered” to come to the United States and work for a “very moderate salary.” The voluntary nature of the scheme was somewhat undercut by the admission that the scientists were in “protective custody.” Upon their arrival in the United States on November 16, newsmen and photographers were not allowed to interview or photograph the newcomers. A few days later, a source in Sweden claimed that the scientists were members of the Nazi team at Peenemeunde where the V-weapons had been produced.

The U.S. government continued to remain somewhat vague about the situation, stating only that “certain outstanding German scientists and technicians” were being imported in order to “take full advantage of these significant developments, which are deemed vital to our national security.”The situation pointed out one of the many ironies connected with the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union, once allies against Germany and the Nazi regime during World War II, were now in a fierce contest to acquire the best and brightest scientists who had helped arm the German forces in order to construct weapons systems to threaten each other.

Also on this Day

< Full Calendar

1558

Queen Mary I Dies

Queen Mary I, the monarch of England and Ireland since 1553, dies and is succeeded by her 25-year-old half-sister, Elizabeth. The two half-sisters, both daughters of King Henry VIII, had a stormy relationship during Mary's five-year reign.

... Read more >
< Full Calendar

1839

Verdi's first opera premiers

Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi's first opera, Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio debuts in Milan. The premiere was held at the Teatro La Scala, where Verdi had first learned his craft from composer and maestro Vincenzo Lavigna. Oberto was received favorably, and Verdi was commissioned to write three more operas by Bartolomeo Merelli, the impresario at La Scala. In 1842, after some personal and pro... Read more >

< Full Calendar

1558

Elizabethan Age begins

Queen Mary I, the monarch of England and Ireland since 1553, dies and is succeeded by her 25-year-old half-sister, Elizabeth. The two half-sisters, both daughters of King Henry VIII, had a stormy relationship during Mary’s five-year reign. Mary, who was brought up as a Catholic, enacted pro-Catholic legislation and made efforts to restore the pope to supremacy in England. A Protestant rebelli... Read more >