Operation Paperclip

Roamy here.  Near the end of WW2, Wernher von Braun and many of the engineers and scientists working for him at Peenemünde wanted to surrender to the Americans, not the Soviets.  The American commanders were quite happy to take the creators of the V-2 rocket into custody – the Pacific war had not ended yet, and they wanted every possible advantage.  Operation Paperclip moved these men and some of their families first to Fort Bliss, Texas, then to Huntsville, Alabama, where they continued to work on their rockets.  The Army Ballistic Missile Agency later became the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.

Last month, Neil Armstrong (if you don’t know who HE is, shame on you) honored one of the last of the German scientists brought here by Operation Paperclip, Dr. Georg von Tiesenhausen, presenting him with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Education.  Dr. Tiesenhausen is now 96 years old.  He led the design of the Lunar Roving Vehicle.  After retirement, he was a guest lecturer for Space Camp.

Armstrong’s no spring chicken, either.  It was nice of him to travel here and honor one of the men who helped put man on the moon.

5 thoughts on “Operation Paperclip”

  1. I’m glad that we made it to the moon, and i’m VERY glad that we got ICBMs, but I still really don’t know how I feel about Operation Paperclip. It was realpolitik both at its best and worst, I think …

  2. Armstrong’s quite a man.
    His Lunar Step Speech was written for him, I heard somebody say he had written his own, but it was vetoed: “Hey I never expected to…[release ptt]”

  3. Armstrong’s in his 70s now.

    Given the choice, I would do paper clip again. The Soviets got a couple of the Germans, as I recall, and it caused us fits. We got the most important group and were able, after a rough start, to forge ahead of Ivan as a result, and stay there. Often the choices you are faced with aren’t what you would want to make, but you make them anyway. We made choices that had been forced on us by our wartime alliance with Stalin who used Hitler to start the war in the first place.

  4. Wikipedia says Armstrong turned 80 last August.

    One of the neat activities at the Space and Rocket Center is the Great Moonbuggy Race – it’s a challenge to high school and college teams to build their own lunar roving vehicles and navigate a obstacle course. This year’s will be held April 1-2, and I will blog on it then.

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