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Werner von Braun

Posted By: joe freedman
Date: Wednesday, 2 December 2009, at 4:12 p.m.

In Response To: Werner von Braun (mamabear)

Actually, I think Lehrer is a genius. And his song scores VB's ostensibly apolitical posture: "a man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience." See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEJ9HrZq7Ro VB developed the V-2 through the use of slave labor at the Buchenwald concenteration camp, and knew (or should have known) how it would be deployed. He also enjoyed high status and reward under the Hitler regime, and may have been a member of the SS. (I'm not sure about the latter.) The fact that he peaceably surrendered to the allies, etc. shows only an understandable inclination to save his skin. As Lehrer describes it, he was not picky about employers.

I don't know whether VB was essential to the U.S. moon programs, but there were certainly others involved, and it's not clear that VB was indispensable. But even if he was, I don't know see why that would make him a "hero". Whether he was a believer in the Nazi party is beside the point -- he knowingly served the Nazi cause through the use of slave labor. And, I'm not aware of any evidence that he recognized this was wrong-- he simply jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the U.S. rocket program, especially when the alternative was probably a few years in prison, at best.

Having said that, I would concede that most people in his position probably would have made the same choices. But that does not make him a hero. The ones with the courage to take a moral stand -- those are the heros.

[On the other hand, there's always the possibility: "you too can be a hero; if you can count backwards to zero."]

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