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Nazis and Soviet Tech Aid U.S. in Space Race

Updated on February 17, 2017

Rocket Scientist Becomes Nazi

Wernher von Braun was born in Germany in 1912 and developed a fascination with rockets and space as a child. He joined the German Rocket Society in 1929. Around 1934 he started experimenting and working on rockets with a group of other scientists. Yet the German government made it impossible to continue refining their rocketry independently and Von Braun had to work under them to continue his passion. Once under the Nazi regime Von Braun and his colleagues developed the V-2 Rocket, which could fly about 500 miles and carry deadly warheads. The V-2 was manufactured by slave labor in the thousands in a factory called Mittelwerk and first used in September 1944. Luckily out of the 5,000 rockets made only 1,100 hit their target resulting in 3,000 deaths and thousands more wounded. Allied forces put an end to these rockets with D-day. Part of what made Americans develop nuclear bombs was that they thought the Nazis had them and were going to use them on the V-2 rocket.

Nazis At NASA!

When World War 2 ended in 1945 Von Braun surrendered to America along with hundreds of other rocket scientists that worked with him. They were allowed to live in America and work on rockets under the supervision of the US army, telling them everything he new about making the V-2 rocket. In 1958 the Explorer 1 became the first American satellite in space, which Von Braun, among others had worked on. Then in 1960 Von Braun and other former Nazis began to work for the newly formed NASA. With the transition to the new space agency Von Braun was promoted to director of the Marshall Space Flight Center where he worked. Also he played a crucial part in getting an American to the moon, by designing the Saturn V, which propelled Apollo 11 to the moon. Von Braun was involved with NASA until 1972 when he quit. He died 5 years later in 1979.

German V-2 Rockets Development & Use

Former V-2 Rocket Slave Laborer Speaks about Von Braun (2:30 Minutes In)

Congratulations Nazi Rocket Scientist!

Werhner Von Braun (pictured to the right at NASA facility) was always eager to share his love of space on television and express his vision of the future of man on the moon. He is quite possibly the most famous and respected Nazi in history.

Nazi Scumbag or Innocent Frightened German?

There is no doubt that Von Braun knew the awful way the rockets he helped create were made and used. Yet like many German citizens he claimed he went along with the Nazis to save his own life. Von Braun conceivably could have escaped to America back before World War 2 even started. At the end of WW2 some accounts say that Von Braun could have surrendered to the Soviets, meaning he possibly could have worked for them but chose America instead. If this is true then it shows that Von Braun might have a conscience after all. Or maybe Von Braun simply just went where the money was. It seems it is okay to let Nazis go free as long as they are working for the good of the U.S. Government.

United States Failures in the Space Race

America’s space capabilities after the space race started in 1957 was rather pitiful. In Dec. 6, 1957 the Vanguard TV-3 space craft exploded on American television.

Alleged Nazi Werhner Von Braun on TV Explaining Spacecraft

Soviet Success in Space

The Soviets, now called Russians since the dissolve of the Soviet Union, were the first people to land an unmanned space craft on the moon and take photographs of a previously unknown side of the moon. They accomplished these tasks through the use of 3 different spacecraft called Lunik, Lunik 2 and Lunik 3 all launched in 1959. One of these Lunik spacecraft is pictured to the right.

Lunik 3 Snaps First Photos of the Moon

Stealing Their Secrets

Realizing that the Soviet’s spacecraft technology was superior to America’s spacecraft the CIA sent agents to learn their secrets. So when the Soviets boldly and foolishly went around showing their prized Lunik spacecraft circa 1959 or 1960 the CIA put a plan into action. Fortunately for them the Soviets displayed the real Lunik when moving from country to country, and not a model. Although the spacecraft was monitored and guarded fiercely by the Soviets while spectators admired it the Lunik was vulnerable when it was transported. At night only one driver hauled the Lunik via truck to the rail road to be moved to the next exhibition. So the CIA easily was able to remove the driver, grab the Lunik and take it to a salvage yard they had chosen to dismantle it. Just a 4 man crew worked to dismantle the Lunik and learn its valuable secrets.

Thankfully the Soviet that was positioned at the railroad that awaited the Lunik didn’t alert his superiors when it never arrived and just went to dinner instead. First the 4 man crew carefully opened up the crate that the Lunik was in which was already well worn to begin with. They pried off the roof of the crate only and used ropes to hoist themselves down to access the Lunik. All the while they took many photographs to insure that when they put the space craft back together their interference would not be noticeable. Although the engine and most electrical components had been removed the Soviets had left behind 2 couplings and a fuel tank which were thoroughly examined to gain an understanding of their functionality. The Lunik had arrived at approximately 7:30 in the evening to the salvage yard and was finished being examined at 4 in the morning. Then it was loaded back on the truck and driven to the railroad where the Soviets picked it up, completely oblivious to any tampering.

How We Know It's True

The actual declassified CIA document called “Kidnapping of the Lunik” by Sidney Wesley Finer who was a part of the 4 man team that abducted the Lunik is pictured to the right. The nose or cone ot the Lunic was removed to access the inside. Notice how even to this day some words have been crossed out.

Who Knew?

To this day it is unclear if or when the Soviets found out the Lunik’s technology had been discovered by Americans. Also it is unknown is if John F Kennedy knew anything about the stealing of the Lunik when he mentioned going to the moon in a speech he made on May 25, 1961. This deception helped put a man on the moon in 1969 but obviously it wasn’t anything that the United States was going to admit to with the Space Race and later the Cold War in effect. Official CIA documents that explain the story of the taking an examining of the Lunik have been made public to Americans, so a Soviet could have read it by now too. Interestingly the Soviets used American designs for spacecraft in later years.

JFK "We Choose to Go the Moon" With Apollo 11 Pictures/Video


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