❄️Charles Wing-Uexküll❄️ Profile picture
Jun 11, 2022 27 tweets 10 min read Read on X
The web of interconnections between Nazi V-2 rockets, American nukes and missile tech are more spiritually significant & esoteric than the conventional narrative of Operation Paperclip.

This thread is about my grandfather's role in this story & his search for the truth Image
The conventional story is that in the final weeks of WW2, the U.S. Army found Dr. Wernher von Braun, the lead V-2 rocket scientist, and took him, hundreds of technicians, and V-2 rockets to the United States, where they founded the U.S. space program. Image
WvB, a Prussian aristocrat and aerospace engineer, designed the V-2 rocket, which climbed to 55 miles in altitude before landing more than 200 miles away & detonating a 1,000 kg warhead.

In 1944-5, approximately 1,400 V-2s hit England and 590 hit Antwerp, the Allies' main port. Image
After the war, von Braun went to Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, to build the first operational & guided surface-to-air missile, the Nike Ajax. The Nike Ajax was designed to hit high-flying strategic bombers and played a crucial role in strategic air defense in the 1950s. Image
Fort Bliss is where my grandfather met von Braun.

Grandpa W— had been drafted into the U.S. Army after getting a bachelor's in chemistry. By 1954 he was training U.S. Army soldiers in (de-)fueling & warheading the Nike missiles.

He liked von Braun & got him to sign a photo. Image
A few years later and out of the Army, Grandpa W— got into nuclear energy. He worked at Argonne National Lab in Chicago, an early government site for nuclear energy built around Fermi's Chicago Pile-1, the world's first nuclear reactor that went critical in 1942. Image
Grandpa W— started to specialize in industrial hygiene, or identifying the dangers / stressors / risks to workers in industrial settings. He dismantled CP-1 in Chicago before transferring to nuclear weapons manufacturing sites in Oak Ridge, TN. Image
In Oak Ridge, Grandpa became an expert in detecting & mitigating the byproducts of nuclear weapons manufacturing, esp. uranium enrichment. He worked with stockpiles of waste that were stored for decades, and figured out how to maintain their integrity & eventually transport them. Image
Grandpa got deeper into the atomic weapons program. He visited the Trinity testing site at White Sands and came back with Trinitite, the radioactive glass that was left over after an atomic explosion. Image
He also met Paul Tibbets, the pioneering pilot of the Enola Gay, the specially-modified B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

There's a signed photo of Tibbets and his crew in Grandpa's papers. ImageImage
Tibbets himself was a pioneering heavy bomber pilot, beginning with the B-17s of the Eighth Bomber Group in Europe.

Tibbets flew the lead bomber, Butcher Shop, for the first American daylight heavy bomber mission ever in August, 1942 against occupied France. Image
Tibbets' crew for the Hiroshima mission included his best friends, navigator Ted 'Dutch' Van Kirk and bombardier Tom Ferebee, with whom he'd flown for years.

Tibbets pulled a hard manuever, a 155 degree turn, to put the Enola Gay tangent to the blast and get away in time. Image
My grandfather's network and projects showed how the worlds of nuclear weapons & missile technology were connected, going back to the 1950s and perhaps before.

That's what made his trips to Peenemunde & Antarctica in the 1990s, after his retirement, so mysterious. Image
Grandpa W— didn't travel to Europe by air. Instead, he booked passage on a random container ship and sailed into Antwerp, Europe's second-largest port.

Remember that Antwerp was one of the chief targets of the V-2 rockets and 1,000s of its citizens were killed. Image
From there, Grandpa went to Peenemunde and poked around for a few weeks, going to the Museum and the ruins of test launch sites and assembly plants.

I still don't know what he was looking for. Image
Still later in his life, my grandfather made two separate trips to Antarctica, to the same areas the Nazis had explored in the German Antarctica Expedition of 1938-9. Image
Again, I'm not sure what he was looking for, these were supposedly tourist trips ,but he hated nature.

I know that he knew that it was possible to mass-produce large rockets underground—he had studied the V-2 Mittelwork factory, where 60,000 slaves had built von Braun's weapon. ImageImage
I do know that my grandfather's dark, terrifying reverence for rocketry & his awe of atomic weapons & their destruction power consumed his life even after his retirement.

like von Braun who went seamlessly from the SS to the Kennedy admin, he was never 're-educated' post-WW2 ImageImage
Were there earlier connections between space travel, nuclear energy, and missile tech than we have previously realized?

Few realize that von Braun's dissertation was classified until 1960, and that he was publishing about Mars as early as 1948. Image
My grandfather died a few years ago, but his archives and artifacts are still with my family—I just need to go through them.

I'm determined to find out what my grandfather learned about German rockets, atomic energy, and Antarctica at the end of his life.
There's a strange, mystical brotherhood that existed between these obsessives who aimed for the stars , no matter the human cost. Almost a secret society.

The Nazis explicitly connected rocket launches—breaching the frontier of space with weapons—with initiation ceremonies.
On Dec 9, 1944, a week before the launch of the Ardennes offensive, SS leadership summoned von Baun to Schloss Varlar for a sumptuous banquet and awards ceremony.

This party didn't have the frenetic desperation of late war German leadership—this was almost a magic ceremony. Image
Dressed in a tuxedo and pounding champagne, von Braun watched as the hosts turned down the lights & opened the huge windows.

V-2s were taking off from the gloomy forest 1 km away.

After each blinding, earth-shaking launch, a medal was placed around the neck of a V-2 scientist. Image
that night, von Braun was awarded the Knight's Cross of the War Merit Medal with Swords—the highest non-combat military honor Germany gave.

it was a pinnacle of the Third Reich's attempt to summon victory, or vengeance, by combining ritual, death, theatre, and high technology. Image
If witnessing these rocket launches together created some kind of initiation, what does that imply for the spiritual continuity between the Nazi project and contemporary American space exploration? Image
It’s possible that the Mercury-Redstone launch vehicle—really a modified ballistic missile—that took Alan Shepard into space in 1961, was already anticipated by earlier work done by German scientists outside of Germany.

One wonders where missing V-2 Nazis like Kammler went.
So when I say I don’t know what my grandfather was looking for in Peenemunde or in Antarctica, I’m not sure if it was evidence of atomic energy—

or energy of an even more fundamental kind.


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good Schopenhauer passage on this question: Image
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there’s something else, too.

i attach two translations of the simile—notice the emphasis on the desirability & concealment of the cheekpiece, which can then reveal itself as a glory & ornament. ImageImage
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