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Wernher von Braun

Posted By: mamabear
Date: Wednesday, 2 December 2009, at 5:43 p.m.

In Response To: Werner von Braun (joe freedman)

Joe Freedman writes, and I agree: The ones with the courage to take a moral stand -- those are the heros. For Von Braun, that courage was a learned skill.

From an article about the FBI's files on him (more info if anyone is still interested in this discussion):

Despite being under constant surveillance and enduring relentless attacks on his character, von Braun had nothing but praise for his adopted country. When one person wrote him, suggesting that severe measures be taken with people who opposed national interests, he wrote back, “Years of direct exposure to the Hitler regime, and its excesses, taught me a few unforgettable lessons and made me solidly opposed to any form of government which would deprive man of human dignity.” ...

Von Braun had suffered in silence, for decades, [because his new "employers" needed him to shut up about his past, for fear of killing NASA entirely, or so they said] for the dream of sending a man to the moon. In 1968 the huge Saturn V rocket was at Cape Canaveral waiting to be launched. All systems were go and it would have been virtually impossible to kill the program at that point. Von Braun, realizing this, seized the opportunity to do something he had waited years for. The German government had quietly been investigating rumors and collecting documents concerning his war time past. In February of 1969 he appeared at the German Embassy in New Orleans to answer the accusations. The Embassy was supplied with the relevant files from the FBI, the CIA, the Army, and the German Archives. After days of intensive probing and questioning, Werhner von Braun was completely exonerated.

It barely made the news.

Von Braun a very soft target indeed if we're looking for someone to call a hypocrite, or whatever else we want to throw around, but I prefer to think of someone who made a huge, and rare, leap of personal progress in his thinking. Then he acted on it in a way that led, or was designed to lead, to as much redemption as was possible given how large everything, good and bad, that he did tended to be. No, he's not the kind of hero like ...hmmm, who can we agree was a completely untainted hero, anyway?

And on a lighter note, here is a Lehrer tune that describes much better what the bot-operators are doing to online BG: Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

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