‘Smash the Myth of the Fascist Rocket Baron’: East German Attacks on Wernher von Braun in the 1960s
After launching the first American satellite in early 1958, Wernher von Braun was feted as a space hero in the West, but stimulated a Stasi investigation into his Nazi past in East Germany. Beginning in 1962, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) launched a campaign to undermine him, leading to the publication of Das Geheimnis von Huntsville by Julius Mader in 1963, which received wide Soviet bloc distribution, but was largely ignored elsewhere. This chapter explores the reasons for the ultimate failure of the GDR campaign outside the Soviet bloc. As a result, the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp story remained largely unknown until the US declassification of damaging information about von Braun and the German rocketeers in 1984.