November 9, 1939: A guard at the British Embassy in Oslo, Sweden, finds a parcel sitting on a ledge in a snowstorm. Soon dubbed The Oslo Report, it consists of about three inches worth of German documents detailing many of the top secret weapons systems being developed by the Reich. A cover letter accompanying the documents is signed by a "well-wishing German" and includes the information that the Germans are test-firing long range rockets in a place called Peenemuende on the island of Usedom in the Baltic. British intelligence will ignore the report due to ignorance of the source and lack of corroboration. (Brown)
November 1939: Hitler orders planning for Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain.
November 19, 1939: The first prototype of a HE-177 takes to the air at Rostock-Marienehe.
From the post-war, pre-trial interview of Hermann Goering by the US Strategic Bombing Survey Team (SBS): To quite an extent [we were suffering from fuel shortages] already in June 1944, when we finally managed to get the "bugs" out of the HE 177, which gave us a little trouble. This aircraft was put in operation on the Russian front after it had been used against England. I had to ground that aircraft because it consumed too much gasoline and we just didn't have enough for it.
February 1940: Believing that conventional aircraft will easily win the war for Germany, Hermann Goering cuts back the engine development program of the Me 262 turbojet fighter aircraft to just 35 engineers.
May 19, 1940: The Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.
June 25, 1940: An Armistice is signed between France and Germany. Under its terms, the French army is to be disbanded and two thirds of France is to be occupied by the Germans.
August 1, 1940: Hitler gives Goering the go-ahead for Operation Eagle, the Luftwaffe bombing campaign against Britain. Raeder reports to Hitler that the earliest possible date for an invasion of Britain is September 15. (Read)
August 9, 1940: Robert Goddard launches his last test vehicle, a rocket that forces fuel into the engine by utilizing turbo-pumps. (Gruntman, Burrows)
September 17, 1940: Hitler postpones Operation Sealion.
From the summary of the post-war interview of Professor William Messerschmitt by the SBS in London: Professor Messerschmitt was not aware that Britain's fighters out-classed German fighters during the Battle of Britain. The plan for the Battle of Britain was first to knock out the RAF and then to make a landing . . . . No attempt was made after the battle of Britain to increase the number or effectiveness of German aircraft. This was a great mistake as the Luftwaffe had been a decisive weapon in all other campaigns. Professor Messerschmitt could not understand the reason why no such action had been taken. He always claimed that the war would be won by the nation which could control the air over its own territory and over the battlefield.
From The Blast of War 1939–1945 by Harold Macmillan: The "Blitz" now came to an end, at least till the summer of 1944, when Hitler's "secret weapons"—V-1 and V-2—were at last revealed. It is indeed fortunate that they were not perfected sooner. Meanwhile, although our casualties—43,000 killed and 51,000 dangerously wounded—were grievous, Hitler's assaults on Britain had failed in their main purpose. Hitler—although we did not know it—was soon to turn to other projects. Alone, we had won the Battle of Britain; alone, we had withstood the Blitz; alone, we were facing the renewed U-boat menace. Other trials were still ahead of us.
November 10, 1940: Hitler authorizes production of the ME 321 glider.
From the summary of Messerschmitt's SBS interview: On November 10, 1940, Professor Messerschmitt completed the drawings for a glider capable of carrying a 21-ton tank which was then Germany's heaviest model. This glider, known as the ME 321, was to be towed by three ME 110s and was to be assisted in its takeoff by eight rockets, four under each wing. On November 7, 1940, Professor Messerschmitt saw Hitler and proposed to him that construction of these gliders be undertaken. He stated that he did not wish to take the matter up through the Air Ministry and preferred to negotiate directly with Todt. Hitler agreed. Messerschmitt saw Todt in Stuttgart two days later and enlisted his help in obtaining the necessary steel and fabrics. The first glider was ready for flight on 28 February 1941 and proved successful. Two hundred were completed by June 1941. They were eventually used in the Russian campaign, specifically in occupying the Orel pocket.
December 18, 1940: Hitler gives orders for military preparations against the USSR.
From the summary of Messerschmitt's SBS Interview: Professor Messerschmitt believed that the reason that no attempt was made to invade England was that Germany was afraid that Russia would seize the opportunity to stab her in the back. In this connection, he stated that he had ... been told once in 1941 by Dr. Todt that Germany had information that Russia had intended to attack her and that it was therefore necessary for Germany to attack first to obtain the advantage of surprise. He reported having heard that Russia had notified Germany that she demanded the following territory: Finland, The Baltic States, One-half of Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, European Turkey, The Dardanelles. 4. German intelligence was unaware of the degree of Russian armament. Russia had better tanks and artillery.
June 1941: Testing with various rocket launching systems are conducted by the Soviet RNII throughout 1940, with the BM-13 (with launch rails for sixteen rockets) ultimately being authorized for production. Forty launchers will ready for deployment by the start of Operation Barbarossa.
June 22, 1941: Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa (Unternehmen Barbarossa) begins. (Clark II)
July 7, 1941: Soviet forces test an experimental artillery battery of seven BM-13 launchers in battle at Orsha in Belarus, with notable battlefield success. (Harford)
August 8, 1941: Eight Special Guards Mortar regiments are commissioned personally by Stalin. Before the end of the year, there will be eight regiments all told, with 37 independent battalions in service, deploying some 554 launchers. (Harford)
October 2, 1941: An operational rocket-powered fighter aircraft, the Me 163 A V4 piloted by Heini Dittmar, sets a new world speed record of 623.8 MPH. This record will not be surpassed until an American Douglas Skystreak turbojet-powered research aircraft does so on August 20, 1947.
From the summary of Messerschmitt's SBS Interview: The ME 163, which used the rocket principle, was of interest only as an experiment. Work had been done on this aircraft prior to the war. Its flight duration—10 minutes—was too short for operational purposes. It had tremendous speed and had achieved as high as 625 miles an hour at level flight, both altitude and near the ground. The stability of the aircraft, however, was not great enough for its speed.
November 7, 1941: Sir Richard Peirse, head of RAF Bomber Command, sends over 160 bombers to raid Berlin. More than 20 are lost, and again little damage is done.
December 11, 1941: Hitler declares war on the United States.
1942: From a report by Lord Cherwell, a senior scientific adviser to the British government:
In 1938 over 22 million Germans lived in 58 towns of over 100,000 inhabitants. If even half our bombs were dropped on ... these 58 towns the great majority of these inhabitants (about one third of the German population) would be turned out of house and home. Investigation seems to show that having one’s home demolished is most damaging to morale ... there seems little doubt that this would break the spirit of the people.
March 23, 1942: Wernher von Braun's team launches its first successful test of an A-4 rocket. (Piszkiewicz, Burrows, Braun)
March 1942: After much negotiation, Goering, under the Four Year Plan, establishes the office of Plenipotentiary for Armaments and War Production, and appoints Speer as minister. This is at best a ruse to allow Goering to save face. While officially putting Speer under Goering, Speer will actually continue to answer only to Hitler.
May 20, 1942: Mr. Justice Singleton, a British High Court Judge, delivers a report to the British Cabinet: "If Russia can hold Germany on land I doubt whether Germany will stand 12 or 18 months’ continuous, intensified and increased bombing, affecting, as it must, her war production, her power of resistance, her industries and her will to resist (by which I mean morale)."
June 13, 1942: Albert Speer, Hitler's Reich Minister of Armaments, visits Peenemunde to witness the first firing test-flight of a remote-controlled rocket with the armaments chiefs of the three branches of the armed forces, Field Marshal Milch, Admiral Witzell and General Fromm. Speer:
Wisps of vapor showed that the fuel tanks were being filled. At the predetermined second, at first with a faltering motion but then with the roar of an unleashed giant, the rocket rose slowly from its pad, seemed to stand upon its jet of flame for the fraction of a second, then vanished with a howl into the low clouds. Wernher von Braun was beaming. For my part, I was thunderstruck at this technical miracle, at its precision and at the way it seemed to abolish the laws of gravity, so that thirteen tons could be hurtled into the air without any mechanical guidance. Approximately twenty-five feet long, the Waterfall rocket was capable of carrying approximately six hundred and sixty pounds of explosives along a directional beam up to an altitude of fifty thousand feet. (Speer)
July 18, 1942: Piloted by Fritz Wendel, the world’s first turbojet fighter aircraft, the Me 262, makes its first successful flight, near Guenzburg, Germany.
August 1942: Wernher von Braun's team tests an A-4 that attains an altitude of 7 miles before exploding. (Piszkiewicz, Braun)
October 3, 1942: Wernher von Braun's team achieves the first suborbital flight in history when an A-4 reaches an altitude of 62 miles. (Braun, Burrows)
I kept my eyes glued to the binoculars it was an unforgettable sight. In the full glare of the sunlight the rocket rose higher and higher. The flame darting from the stern was almost as long as the rocket itself . . . . The air was filled with a sound like rolling thunder. -- Walter Robert Dornberger
From Speers' testimony before the IMT: One of the most important tasks was the development of new weapons and their serial production...From the point of view of their technical production the rockets were a very expensive affair for us, and their effect, compared to the cost of their output, was negligible. In consequence we had no particular interest in developing the affair on a bigger scale. The person who kept urging it was Himmler, in this case. He gave one Obergruppenfuehrer Kammler the task of firing off these rockets over England. In Army circles they were of the same opinion as I, namely, that the rockets were too expensive; and in Air Force circles, the opinion was the same, since for the equivalent of one rocket one could almost build a fighter. It is quite clear that it would have been much better for us if we had not gone in for this nonsense.
1942: Sergey Korolyov manages to be moved to another "sharashka" which designs rocket aircraft boosters, under the rocket engine designer Valentin Glushko. Korolyov is kept in this sharashka, and isolated from his family, until 1944, and lives in fear of being shot for the military secrets he possesses. He will bear psychological scars for the rest of his life from this time in the gulag, becoming reserved and cautious. Soviet émigré Leonid Vladimirov will later relate that Glushko once described Korolyov as:
Short of stature, heavily built, with head sitting awkwardly on his body, with brown eyes glistening with intelligence, he was a skeptic, a cynic and a pessimist who took the gloomiest view of the future. "We will all vanish without a trace" was his favorite expression. (Harford)
Late 1942: 3,237 Katyusha launchers of all types have been built and deployed by the Soviets; total production will ultimately reach 10,000. The equivalent of 216 batteries, 57 regiments, are now in service. By war's end, 518 batteries will be deployed in the field. (Menaul, Harford)
From Exploring Space by William E. Burrows: And the fertile German imagination ranged quite a bit beyond the vengeance weapons as rocketry made the transition from theory to well-established fact. Even as the engineers and technicians were working on the V-2 at Peenemuende in the early 1940s, a Stuttgart professor named Eugene Saenger laid out plans for a giant winged rocket plane, called an antipodal bomber, that would be able to skip along the top of the atmosphere like a flat stone on water and reach all the way to North America with ten tons of bombs. Plans called for the craft to be launched on a highly lubricated rail, its engine generating a fantastic 1.2 million pounds of thrust, and then carry its weapons load to New York, Washington, and Pittsburgh. (Note: Saenger's post-war work for the US will serve as the basis for the development of the X-15 and, ultimately, the Space Shuttle.) Another project, this one coming out of von Braun's shop, involved a monster ballistic missile that would be capable of producing four hundred thousand pounds of thrust and whose booster would have air brakes and a parachute so that it could be reused.
1942 Science Prediction Article: Aircraft of Uranus.
October 14, 1942: Hitler, in conversation with Albert Speer:
The A-4 is a measure that can decide the war. And what encouragement to the home front when we attack the English with it. This is the decisive weapon of the war, and what is more it can be produced with relatively small resources. Speer, you must push the A-4 as hard as you can! Whatever labor and materials they need must be supplied instantly. You know I was going to sign the decree for the tank program. But my conclusion now is: Change it around and phase it so that A-4 is put on a par with tank production. But in this project we can use only Germans. God help us if the enemy finds out about this business. (Speer)
From Bomber Command by Arthur "Bomber" Harris: Whenever the fact that our aircraft occasionally killed women and children is cast in my teeth I always produce this example of the blockade, although there are endless others to be got from the wars of the past. I never forget, as so many do, that in all normal warfare of the past, and of the not distant past, it was the common practice to besiege cities and, if they refused to surrender when called upon with due formality to do so, every living thing in them was in the end put to the sword. Even in the more civilized times of today the siege of cities, accompanied by the bombardment of the city as a whole, is still a normal practice; in no circumstances were women and children allowed to pass out of the city, because their presence in it and their consumption of food would inevitably hasten the end of the siege. And as to bombardment, what city in what war has ever failed to receive the maximum bombardment from all enemy artillery within range so long as it has continued resistance?
December 22, 1942: Adolf Hitler signs an order approving the production of the A-4 as a "vengeance weapon" to be developed to target London.
Early 1943: Mass production of the A-4 finally begins. Ultimately, 42 000 concentration camp prisoners will be used as slave labor in the production of these rockets; at least 30 000 will perish. (Piszkiewicz, Burrows)
From Hermann Goering's testimony before the IMT: I knew of the subterranean works which were near Nordhausen, though I never was there myself. But they had been established at a rather early period. Nordhausen produced mainly V-1s and V-2s. With the conditions in Camp Dora, as they have been described, I am not familiar. I also believe that they are exaggerated. Of course, I knew that subterranean factories were being built. I was also interested in the construction of further plants for the Luftwaffe. I cannot see why the construction of subterranean works should be something particularly wicked or destructive. I had ordered construction of an important subterranean work at Kahla in Thuringia for airplane production in which, to a large extent, German workers and, for the rest, Russian workers and prisoners of war were employed. I personally went there to look over the work being done and on that day found everyone in good spirits.
On the occasion of my visit I brought the people some additional rations of beverages, cigarettes, and other things, for Germans and foreigners alike. The other subterranean works for which I requested concentration camp internees were not built any more. That I requested inmates of concentration camps for the aviation industry is correct, and it is in my opinion quite natural because I was, at that time, not familiar with the details of the concentration camps. I knew only that many Germans also were in concentration camps—people who had refused to join the Army, who were politically unreliable, or who had been punished for other things, as also happens in other countries in time of war. At that time everyone had to work in Germany. Women were taken into the ranks of labor, including those who had never worked before. In my own home parachute production was started, in which everyone had to participate. I could not see why, if the entire people had to take part in work, the inmates of prisons, concentration camps, or wherever they might be, should not also be put to use for work essential to the war.
Moreover I am of the opinion, from what I know today, that it certainly was better for them to work and to be billeted in some plane factory than in their concentration camps. The fact per se that they worked, is to be taken as a matter of course, and also that they worked for war production. But that work meant destruction is a new idea. It is possible that it was strenuous here or there. I for my part was interested that these people should not be destroyed, but that they should work and thereby produce. The work itself was the same as done by German workers—that is, plane and motor production—no destruction was intended thereby.
1943: The Lisbon Report, confirming that the Germans are test-firing long range rockets in Peenemuende, falls into Allied hands. An excerpt:
Hitler and members of his Cabinet recently inspected both weapons (the V-1 and V-2) at Peenemuende. About 10th of June, Hitler told assembled military leaders that the Germans had only to hold out, since by the end of 1943 London would be leveled to the ground and Britain forced to capitulate. October 20th is at present fixed as Zero Day for rocket attacks to begin. Hitler ordered the construction of 30,000 A-4 (the original nomenclature for the V-2) projectiles by that day; this is, however, beyond the bounds of possibility. Production of both weapons is to have first priority and 1500 skilled workers have been transferred to this work from anti-aircraft and artillery production. (Brown)
February 2, 1943: Paulus surrenders at Stalingrad.
February 18, 1943 Totalkrieg: In Berlin, Goebbels delivers his most famous speech:
The tragic battle of Stalingrad is a symbol of heroic, manly resistance to the revolt of the steppes. It has not only a military, but also an intellectual and spiritual significance for the German people. Here for the first time our eyes have been opened to the true nature of the war. We want no more false hopes and illusions. We want bravely to look the facts in the face, however hard and dreadful they may be. The history of our party and our state has proven that a danger recognized is a danger defeated. Our coming hard battles in the East will be under the sign of this heroic resistance. It will require previously undreamed of efforts by our soldiers and our weapons. A merciless war is raging in the East. The Fuehrer was right when he said that in the end there will not be winners and losers, but the living and the dead...
March 5, 1943: Nine months after the Germans had successfully tested the world’s first turbojet fighter aircraft, the British Gloster Meteor completes its maiden flight.
April 5, 1943: Wernher von Braun submits a formal application to the SS-Rasse-und Siedlungshauptamt (SS Central Office for Race and Settlement) requesting permission to marry a twenty-seven year old Berlin woman, Dorothee Brill. In the event, Brill and von Braun will not marry. Perhaps they found a Jew in her family tree, or the couple merely fell out of love? The reason is unknown. Von Braun will not marry until March 1, 1947. (Piszkiewicz)
April 15, 1943: General Ismay (above) to Churchill: The Chiefs of Staff feel that you should be made aware of reports of German experiments with long-range rockets. The fact that five reports have been received since the end of 1942 indicates a foundation of fact even if details are inaccurate." In response to the threat, Churchill will appoint his son-in-law, Duncan Sandys, as Chairman of a War Cabinet Committee (the 'Crossbow' Committee) for defense against German flying bombs and rockets. (Ismay, Kilzer)
April 22, 1943: General Adolf Galland had, along with Willy Messerschmitt, been an opponent of the development of the Me262 turbojet fighter aircraft. However, on this day Galland flies an Me262 and reverses his previous opinion. He now supports the aircraft unreservedly.
From the summary of Messerschmitt's SBS Interview: The ME 262 had a maximum speed of 560 miles an hour at level flight, both at altitude and near the ground. Its normal speed was approximately 500 miles an hour. The individual motors supplied for this aircraft varied markedly in efficiency. Due to difficulties with workmen and machines the airframes were inferior. Professor Messerschmitt was working on a specially built 262 with which he expected to achieve a speed of 575 miles an hour. The aircraft was capable of two hours flight at 27,000 feet without belly tanks. Professor Messerschmitt believed that conventional motors and propellers were satisfactory for designs involving speeds up to 500 miles an hour. Beyond that and until the speed of sound had been achieved, he believed a turbo-jet was the best type. For speeds in excess of sound, he had no definite opinion.
May 17, 1943 Operation Chastise: Using a specially developed bouncing bomb, Royal Air Force Squadron No. 617 (subsequently known as "the Dambusters") attack the Moehne and Eder dams in Germany's Ruhr valley. A catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley results. 53 of the 133 aircrew who participate in the attack are killed in action and three bail out to be made prisoners of war. This represents a casualty rate of almost 40%.
June 1943: The Anglo-American Combined Bomber Offensive is officially launched as Operation Pointblank.
From the summary of Messerschmitt's SBS Interview: In June 1943, Professor Messerschmitt took the matter up personally with Hitler. He was then disturbed about the program for production of V-weapons. Messerschmitt explained to Hitler that, in his opinion, unless a production of 80,000–100,000 V-weapons per month could be achieved, the entire program should be scrapped. He argued that 50 per cent of the V-weapons would be ineffective. Messerschmitt felt that it would be possible for Germany to build 100,000 V-weapons a month when the US was capable of building 4,000,000 automobiles a year. He urged Hitler that one thing or the other should be done; either V-weapons should be produced in overwhelming quantities or everything should be done to build up the Luftwaffe. In Messerschmitt's personal opinion, if the Luftwaffe were not strengthened the war would be lost . . . . As a result of his insistence upon increased aircraft production in many Air Ministry meetings ... several of Messerschmitt's friends warned him to be careful or he might be sent to a concentration camp.
July 7, 1943: Hitler is enthusiastic when Wernher von Braun shows him a color movie of an A-4 blast off. Hitler, anxious for a way to retaliate against Allied air strikes in kind, puts the A-4 on the top-priority list. He will soon personally award the 31 year old scientist the title of honorary "Research Professor." (Cornwell, Piszkiewicz, Braun)
July 24, 1943: The large port city of Hamburg is hit by a large raid of 740 aircraft killing about 1,500 people. Only 12 aircraft are lost, 1.5% of the force.
August 2, 1943: The large port city of Hamburg is hit again by a large raid, this time of 791 aircraft. 30 aircraft are lost, 4.1% of the force.
From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer: In May 1943, an RAF reconnaissance plane had photographed the Peenemunde installation following a tip to London from the Polish underground that both a pilotless jet-propelled aircraft (later known as the V-1, or Buzz Bomb) and a rocket (the V-2) were being developed there. In August British bombers attacked Peenemunde, badly damaging the installation and setting back research and tests by several months. By November, the British and American air forces had located sixty-three launching sites for the V-1 on the Channel and between December and the following February bombed and destroyed seventy-three of the sites, which by that time had increased to ninety-six. The terms "V-1" and "V-2" came from the German word Vergeltungswaffen, or weapons of reprisal, of which Dr Goebbels' propaganda was to make so much of in the dark year of 1944.
August 17–18, 1943 Operation Bodyline (Crossbow): Peenemunde is attacked in a devastating raid by 517 British bombers, forcing the production of the A-4 underground. Eventually, tests will move to an alternate range at Blizna, Poland. Note: Crossbow (known as Bodyline until November 15, 1943) is the code name of the Anglo-American campaign against German rocket sites. (Verrier, D'Olier)
From Speer's SBS Interview: [The "only" effect of the August 1944 attack was that] one of the foremost collaborators of Braun was killed. We had tremendous luck in so far you completely destroyed the living quarters, however, you did not do any damage to a large laboratory hanger close by. Besides, at that time the development was already completed and we were already preparing for production. This was done at other locations. The V-1 was developed at Fieseler, Kassel . . . .
[The significance of the large concert construction at Watten was] probably concrete construction for V-2. V-2 required larger installations for preparation, like the filling with oxygen, testing of instruments, storage—in short everything to keep V-2 in shape. V-1 is mounted much quicker, is put on tracks and fired. V-2 as you know went straight up . . . .
The pressure on explosives (production) did not amount to much. V-1 carried 500 to 600 kg of explosives, that is about 1000 tons for the whole year. That's no object. V-2 used about 800 to 900 kg, that doesn't mean much in terms of explosives. At the same time we didn't have to produce bombs [for the air force] anymore. A difficulty existed in the procurement of sheet metal for V-2 and V-1. They had to be collected from other programs. I don't know anymore in detail from what programs, but it was very difficult to get these high-grade steel sheets . . . . The Luftwaffe was mad about the Army going in for such long distances. They said: "The Army starts to fly." The V program did not hit fighter production in any way. Because in the fighter program the difficulties were for instance to get aluminum sheets, whereas it was steel sheets for V-1.
From Bodyguard of Lies by Anthony Cave Brown: For many nights in the past, the C-in-C of Bomber Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, had been sending a few fast high-flying bombers to raid Berlin. Each night the bombers—Mosquitoes ... flew the same northerly track to the capital, dropped a few bombs, and then departed. The track took the Mosquitoes near Peenemuende and air-raid sirens there always sent the scientists and their work forces to the shelters, but after a time the Peenemuende defenses became more relaxed. The Reich air defense commander also considered Peenemuende an unlikely target; he thought these pinprick raids were the prologue to some devastating main raid on the capital. But Bomber Command had other plans...The raid was one of the most decisive air operations of the war . . . . The effect of the raid on Hitler and Goering was such that the full brunt of their rage fell upon General Hans Jeschonnek, the Chief of the Air Staff. Jeschonnek shot himself in his office the morning after the raid.
August 22, 1943: Alarmed at the destruction of the rocket facilities at Peenemuende, Speer and Himmler confer at Rastenburg with their Fuehrer. Heinrich Himmler offers to use concentration camp workers for A-4 production, and Hitler takes him up on it, ordering that some prisoners from Buchenwald be shifted to Nordhausen. Speer’s ministry will pay all the bills. Himmler places SS Brigadefuehrer Hans Kammler, a ruthless Nazi of the worst sort, in change of what will become known as Camp Dora. Note: 60,000 prisoners will be funneled into the camp, half will perish. (Sereney, Sellier, Cornwell, Piszkiewicz)
From Hermann Goering's testimony before the IMT: I knew of the subterranean works which were near Nordhausen, though I never was there myself. But they had been established at a rather early period. Nordhausen produced mainly V-1s and V-2s. With the conditions in Camp Dora, as they have been described, I am not familiar. I also believe that they are exaggerated. Of course, I knew that subterranean factories were being built. I was also interested in the construction of further plants for the Luftwaffe. I cannot see why the construction of subterranean works should be something particularly wicked or destructive. I had ordered construction of an important subterranean work at Kahla in Thuringia for airplane production in which, to a large extent, German workers and, for the rest, Russian workers and prisoners of war were employed. I personally went there to look over the work being done and on that day found everyone in good spirits. On the occasion of my visit I brought the people some additional rations of beverages, cigarettes, and other things, for Germans and foreigners alike. The other subterranean works for which I requested concentration camp internees were not built any more.
From The Devil's Disciples by Anthony Read: To save his reputation—and Germany—Goering needed the "wonder weapons" that Goebbels regularly hinted at in his efforts to raise public moral. There was a host of ideas, many of them hare-brained, but three were viable, genuinely effective, and in an advanced state. One, a long-range rocket with a one-ton warhead, code-named A-4, was being developed by the young scientist Wernher von Braun under the aegis of the army. The second, effectively the first cruise missile, was a small, pilotless aircraft with a range of up to 100 kilometer (125 miles), powered by a simple pulse-jet engine and also carrying a one-ton warhead, which became known as the Flying Bomb, or V-1—the V standing for Vergeltungswaffen, reprisal weapon.
The V-1 was the Luftwaffe's weapon. It was well advanced before the raid on Peenemunde (August 8, 1943), which only delayed its final development by a few weeks, and by the beginning of November the first sixty-three concrete launching ramps were being built near the Channel coast, pointing towards London. Goering issued a contract to the Fieseler company to start mass production of the bombs in January 1944. The delays caused by the Peenemunde raid to Braun's rocket, soon to be known as the V-2, which was in any case much more complex and expensive to produce than the flying bomb, were more serious.
Himmler and the SS came to the rescue, with Pohl's Works Department creating a huge underground factory in a cave complex near Nordhausen in the Hartz Mountains, complete with the most basic living quarters for prisoners who had until then been producing components in the secrecy of Buchenwald concentration camp. Code-named "Dora," the new workshops were prepared and equipped in the remarkably short time of two months, but large-scale production did not begin until May 1944, and it was September before the first operational rockets were fired.
August 22, 1943: On the island of Bornholm, mid-way between Germany and Sweden, a UFO crashes in a turnip field. From an account by R V Jones, the chief British technical intelligence expert at the time:
At first, we were not sure what he had found ... it was about 4 meters long, and it might have been a rather larger version of the HS 293 glider bomb that KG100 was now using against our warships in the Mediterranean. Indeed, it turned out that this particular bomb had been released from a Heinkel III, but it was in fact a research model (the "V" probably stood for "Versuchs" i.e. research) of the flying bomb about which we were going to hear so much in the next few months. (Kilzer)
1943 Speculative Science Article: Aircraft Carrier By Sam Merwin Jr.
August 23, 1943: The first 107 inmates arrive at Nordhausen from Buchenwald to begin work on the underground rocket facility soon to be known as Camp Dora. (Sereney)
From The Holocaust Chronicle by Harran, Kuntz, etc.: Constructed as a sub-camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, Dora-Mittelbau, located near the town of Nordhausen in Eastern Germany, became an independent camp in the fall of 1944. Beginning in 1943, thousands of prisoners were assigned to Dora to expand the tunnels of an old salt mine buried deep in the Hartz Mountains. They built an underground factory that produced the secret V-1 and V-2 rockets. Human life meant nothing in the Nazis' quest to turn the tide of war and avoid defeat.
Even by concentration camp standards, prisoners in Dora were treated brutally by their captors. They spent their lives with no glimpse of the sun and with no sanitary facilities, laboring until they dropped. Bodies, covered with lice and often weighing only eighty pounds, were returned to Buchenwald for burning at the rate of 1,000 a month. Once completed, the factory that manufactured the rockets—the state-owned Mittelwerk GmbH—used thousands of prisoners as laborers, including many Jews. They too labored under dismal conditions, drinking their water from leaks in the pipes. Fear of sabotage provided the pretext for guards to employ extraordinary sadism, hanging prisoners or torturing them on a whim. Untold thousands died at Dora and on death marches from the camp in the closing days of the war.
September 2, 1943: 1,223 inmates arrive at Nordhausen from Buchenwald. (Sellier)
From Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis by Ian Kershaw: Hitler's instincts, as always, veered towards attack as the best form of defense. He looked, as did—impatiently and more and more disbelievingly—large numbers of ordinary Germans, to the chance to launch devastating weapons of destruction against Great Britain, giving the British a taste of their own medicine and forcing the Allies to rethink their strategy in the air-war. Here, too, his illusions about the speed with which the "wonder-weapons" could be made ready for deployment, and their likely impact on British war strategy, were shored up by the optimistic prognoses of his advisors.
Speer had persuaded Hitler as long ago as October 1942, after witnessing trials at Peenemunde earlier in the year, of the destructive potential of a long-range rocket, the A4 (later known as the V-2) able to enter the stratosphere en route to delivering its bombs—and unstoppable devastation—on England. Hitler had immediately ordered their mass-production on a huge scale. When Wernher von Braun, the genius behind the construction, had explained some months later what the rocket was capable of, and shown a color film of it in trials, Hitler's enthusiasm was unbounded. It was, he told Speer, "the decisive weapon of the war," which would lift the burden on Germany when unleashed on the British. Production was to be advanced with all speed—if need be at the expense of tank production. By autumn 1943 it had already become plain that any expectation of early deployment was wildly optimistic.
October 8, 1943: This day’s Magic summary, a compilation of decoded Japanese and German communications presented to FDR daily, contains a dispatch from Baron Oshima, Japans representative in Berlin, informing his home office of developments. Oshima tells of a new "terror-weapon." long-range rocket guns, due to be deployed in mid-December, and opines that the effect of the weapon as a "means of military retaliation will be equaled only by the political reverberations." (Lee)
November 15, 1943: The remains of a German A-4 are found at Utlaengan in Karlskrona, Sweden. (Kilzer)
November 18, 1943: Berlin is attacked by 440 Avro Lancasters and four de Havilland Mosquitoes, but suffers little damage.
From the summary of Messerschmitt's SBS Interview: It was Professor Messerschmitt's opinion that area attacks on cities did no critical damage to war production and that they resulted in a stiffening of morale.
November 22, 1943: A bombing raid kills 2,000 Berliners and renders 175,000 homeless.
From Speer's SBS Interview: Later on I had an opportunity to witness the effects of numerous night attacks on Berlin for the period from about June, July 1943 until February 1944. Those, though they always had considerable effect, speedily hardened the population. They did not mind air attacks very much any longer. The effects of industry were indirect only in that labor first remained absent for a few days in those plants not directly hit. But one must say that the German worker possesses an extraordinary resistance and up to the end, and in spite of air attacks, returned to the plants and worked again. I for my part had always to underline that we owe our achievements almost exclusively to our German Workers. Attacks against towns or city centers can only make sense if the nations do not have the necessary resistance.
December 1943: The US forms the Crossbow Committee under General Stephen Henry of the New Developments Division to direct "operations against all phases of the German long-range weapons program—operations against research and development of the weapons, their manufacture, transportation and their launching sites, and against missiles in flight." (Verrier, D'Olier)
December 5, 1943 Operation Crossbow: "CROSSBOW Operations Against Ski Sites" begins in the Nord-Pas de Calais region.
December 10, 1943: Albert Speer visits the Nordhausen plant at Camp Dora. (Sellier, IMT)
From Dora by Jean Michel: The missile slaves ... from France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Russia, Poland and Germany ... toiled eighteen hours a day...for many weeks without tools, just with their bare hands ... ammonia dust burnt their lungs...they slept in the tunnels in cavities which were hollowed out: 1,024 prisoners in hollows on four levels which stretched for 1000 yards . . . . No heat, no ventilation, not the smallest pail to wash in: death touched us with the cold, the sensation of choking, the filth that impregnated us . . . . The latrines were barrels cut in half with planks laid across. They stood at each exit from the rows of sleeping cubicles .... The deportees saw daylight only once a week at the Sunday roll-call. The cubicles were permanently occupied, the day team following the night team and then vice versa ... no drinkable water ... you lapped up liquid and mud as soon as the SS had their backs turned . . . . It was not until March 1944 that the barracks were completed. At Dora, the work was as terrible as ever, but we could at least leave the tunnel for the six hours of rest allowed.
January 2, 1944: Commander-in-Chief of the Air Defence of Great Britain, Air Chief Marshal Roderic Hill, submits a plan to deploy 1,332 guns to defend London, Bristol, and the Solent against the V-1 "Robot Blitz." (Collier)
January 7, 1944: Speer and Milch meet with Hitler at his headquarters. The Fuehrer informs them that analysis of English periodicals reveals that the English are near to achieving success in the testing of experimental jet aircraft. Hitler demands that production of the Me 262, the Germans' turbojet fighter aircraft, be put on top priority.
January 25, 1944: Wernher von Braun visits Camp Dora. A friend of von Braun records that he said the following after this visit: "It is hellish. My spontaneous reaction was to talk to one of the SS guards, only to be told with unmistakable harshness that I should mind my own business, or find myself in the same striped fatigues! . . . . I realized that any attempt of reasoning on humane grounds would be utterly futile." This flies in the face of von Braun's future denials that he was aware of the horrific conditions. (Sellier, Stuhlinger, IMT)
Adam Cabala: ... the German scientists led by Professor Wernher von Braun also saw everything that went on every day. When they walked along the corridors, they saw the prisoners' drudgery, their exhausting work and their ordeal. During his frequent attendance in Dora, Professor Wernher von Braun never once protested against this cruelty and brutality . . . . On a little area beside the clinic shack you could see piles of prisoners every day who had not survived the workload and had been tortured to death by the vindictive guards . . . . But Prof. Wernher von Braun just walked past them, so close that he almost touched the bodies.
January 30, 1944: This day’s Magic summary contains a dispatch from Baron Oshima in Berlin, informing his home office of recent conversations with Hitler. Hovering over a map of Britain, Hitler tells Oshima:
I do not know whether they (the Allies) will attack on a large or small scale, or at what point. But the Anglo-Saxons positively cannot go on without invasion, and I, for one, think we may get a chance to give them an awful blow. Besides, don't forget our coming retaliation against England. We are going to do it principally with rocket guns. Everything is now ready, and practice shows that they are extremely effective. Now take this line running to the Birmingham area (Hitler points to map); that is a good place to start. I cannot tell you just when we will begin, but we are really going to do something to the British Isles. We also have two thousand schnell (fast) bombers, and last night we carried out our first bombing of London. With all these various (word missing), I belief we can gradually regain the initiative and, seizing our opportunities, turn once again against Russia. (Lee)
February 28, 1944: Famed test pilot Hanna Reitsch arrives at the Berghof to meet with Hitler. The V-1 is too inaccurate, she tells him. She urges him to begin a piloted suicide rocket (Reichenbergs) program and volunteers for it. Hitler immediately rejects the notion, saying that it is not the right psychological moment for such an idea to be presented to the German people. When Hitler changes the subject to jets, Reitsch interrupts him: "Mein Fuehrer, you are speaking of the grandchild of an embryo." Pressing him, she eventually gets his reluctant consent to begin experimental work on the piloted rocket as long as he is not pestered about it during its development. (Toland)
March 15, 1944: Reports that von Braun and a few of his colleagues had expressed regret that they were working on weapons instead of spaceships, and that they also had expressed opinions that the war was going against Germany, provides Himmler--who has been seeking to place the V-1 and V-2 programs under his personal control--the opportunity to arrest him. Von Braun is taken to a Gestapo cell in Stettin, Poland, where he will be held without any charges being filed against him. (Braun)
1944 Science Prediction Article: Rocket Warship by Morris J. Steele.
April 19, 1944 Operation Crossbow: At the request of the British War Cabinet, Eisenhower orders that Crossbow attacks be given absolute priority over all other air operations, including attacks directed at the "wearing down (of) German industry" and civilian morale (terror attacks) "for the time being." (Eisenhower II)
May 1944: Hitler decides to produce the ME 262 as a fighter-bomber. Erprobungskommando 262 is formed at Lechfeld in Bavaria as a test unit to introduce the Me 262 turbojet fighter aircraft into service and train a core of pilots to fly it. In the end, slightly over 1,400 Me 262s of all versions will be produced. As few as 200 Me 262s will make it into combat units due to fuel shortages, pilot shortages, and the lack of airfields capable of supporting the Me 262.
From Goering's SBS Interview: The first aircraft were primarily experimental ships and their engines had a lifetime of about four to five hours. Then again, they were completely new machines of which a great number had to be used for the training of pilots. Furthermore, we had to shake out the "bugs" from the engines. So that a lot of the first machines were lost through forced landings. Another thing, the ship had a kind of brake which had to be applied very carefully, otherwise it would roll off the runway and until we had corrected that, we lost a number of machines this way. It was hard to throttle it back because it was very fast. A lot of other things came into it. It was just a completely new ship and a completely new type of engine. But toward the end, everything was under control, and what was needed was a little more experience for the pilots, so that they might know how to fly this ship at its high speeds...The Fuehrer had originally directed that it be produced as a fighter, but in May, 1944, he ordered that it be converted into a fighter-bomber. This conversion was one of the main reasons for the delay in getting this plane into action in any quantity.
May 13, 1944: Hitler finally consents to von Braun's release after Speer and others come to his defense: "In the matter concerning B. I will guarantee you that he will be exempt from persecution as long as he is indispensable for you, in spite of the difficult general consequences this will have." (Speer)
June 1, 1944: This day’s Magic summary contains a May 27 dispatch from Baron Oshima in Berlin, informing his home office of recent conversations with Hitler. Oshima reminds Hitler that in their last meeting he had told his Japanese allies that if there were no invasion "you thought you might blast southern England with rocket guns and then find an opportunity to take the initiative again on the Eastern Front. Well, since then, the Anglo-Americans have been bombing the Channel area more heavily than ever; I wonder if those weapons you were going to use against England have not been destroyed" Hitler replies: "No. Those guns are in an arsenal made of impermeable concrete. They are in no danger." (Lee)
June 6, 1944 D-Day: The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Europe begins.
From D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, by Stephen E. Ambrose: Rundstedt was unhappy with the idea of fixed fortifications [on the English Channel coast]. He argued that the Germans should hold their armored units well back from the coast, out of range of Allied naval gunfire, capable of mounting a genuine counteroffensive. But shortages of armor, men, fuel, and air coverage made that questionable.
What Hitler could do was attempt to anticipate the landing site, keep what armor was available for the West near that place, and use it for local counterattacks while the Atlantic Wall held up the invaders. Tanks could seal off any penetration; tanks could drive the lightly armed and unarmored first wave of invaders back into the sea, if fortifications were strong enough to keep the Allies from establishing momentum. The trick was to pick the place to make the fortifications that strong.
The Pas-de-Calais was the logical place for the invasion, for two overwhelming reasons: between Dover and Calais is where the English Channel is narrowest; and the straight line from London to the Rhine-Ruhr and on to Berlin runs London-Dover-Calais-Belgium.
Hitler had to make a bet and, in 1943, he bet the invasion would come at the Pas-de-Calais. In a way, he tried to force the Allies to invade there. In the summer of 1943, he decided to install the launching sites for the V-1 and V-2 Vergeltungs weapons in that area. He believed that, whatever the Allies' previous plans might have been, the V-weapons would be so dangerous as to force them to attack directly in the Pas-de-Calais, in order to overrun the launching sites.
Thus, the area around Calais became by far the strongest fortified portion of the Kanalkueste (Channel coast) and, in 1944, the location of by far the greatest concentration of German armor in the West. It was there that the Atlantic Wall came closest to what German propaganda claimed it was: an impregnable fortress.
June 12, 1944: London is attacked for the first time with a V-1 Flying Bomb. Note: 10,500 V-1s will be launched, but only 20% will succeed in reaching British targets. All told, V-1s will destroy 1.1 million homes and kill 10,000 souls in England. (Lee, Eisenhower II)
From Ike & Monty, Generals at War by Norman Gelb: But the main impact of those rockets was to instill terror. They arrived day and night, heralded a few seconds before impact by a low-pitched buzz that threatened instantaneous death and destruction. From the first appearance of the German rockets, nerves were frayed in England, tempers were short, and expectations were of worse to come . . . .
Eisenhower himself reluctantly took to spending his nights in an air raid shelter. Churchill pressed him to give high priority to dealing with the German rockets, and the Supreme Commander felt obliged to divert bombers from tactical operations to attack the launch sites. This had limited effect, which focused attention even more sharply on the failure of Montgomery to live up to his rapid-advance forecasts and seize the area from which the buzz bombs were being launched. Eisenhower at first declined to press the British commander to make better progress. Butcher observed, "Apparently Monty wanted to tidy up his administrative tail and get plenty of supplies on hand before he makes a general attack."
From Speer's SBS interview: One [side] believed that the V-weapons would have a decisive effect on London. Only London could be the target anyway, because the hits were so widely separated that any other city could not be attacked effectively. The deviation for the London distances was about 5 km for the V-1 and 2-3 km for the V-2. One could never compare the effects of V-1 and V-2 to a British attack on a center of a large city because of the heavy effects of the British attacks--the large tonnage dropped in a short time on a small target, the resulting fires--all of which cause much more damage. While in the case of V-2, even with occasional hits far apart, even with the same amount of explosives, the same effect would never have been reached . . . .
Its purpose was to counter the British night attacks with something similar, without the expensive bombers and practically without losses. The main reason was therefore a psychological one for the benefit of the German people. The effect of the V-weapons on London was also overestimated. We expected it to make the British population tired of war, for now and then we received reports that their morale wasn't as high as before. We expected more of a political reaction to the weapon . . . . You bombed the cement emplacements which permitted the launching anyway. These cement sites were prepared to launch the entire production. V-2s were to be produced at the rate of 20-30 units daily, 600-900 monthly, and we planned to fire about 80-100 V-2s daily. You also attacked the installations for V-2s.
From Adolf Hitler by John Toland: Hitler was still so convinced that the Normandy landing was a trick that he had not taken resolute action against this bridgehead, and by refusing to give his field commanders a free hand he had deprived them of thier last chance to seize the initiative. The battle was already lost. By now it was obvious that the Allies had won complete air supremacy over France, and Hitler turned to Goering, whom he had praised a few days earlier. He sarcastically asked whether it was true that his vaunted Luftwaffe had taken out a 'knock-for-knock' insurance policy with the West.
In desperation the Fuehrer inaugurated the V-1 rocket campaign against London on June 12, two days ahead of schedule. The harassed catapult crews could launch only ten flying bombs. Four crashed immediately, two disappeared, and the others destroyed a single railway bridge. After this fiasco Goering hastily reminded Hitler that this was Milch's program, not his, but when the second launching of 244 rockets two days later set disastrous fires in London the Reichsmarschall was quick to claim the credit. All this had no effect on the situation in Normandy. Within ten days the Allies had managed to land almost a million men and 500,000 tons of materiel.
June 15, 1944: The Germans launch a mass attack of 244 V-1s against London. (Eisenhower II)
From Speer's SBS Interview: V-2 cost approximately 20 times as much as V-1. The cost is very difficult to figure out for new production processes because there isn't a real mass production and the value factor cannot be calculated as yet. One V-2 used to cost one million marks in the beginning. I believe it then went down to 250,000–300,000 marks, but I don't want to quote any figures that I do not know exactly . . . . About 70,000 to 80,000 people worked on V-2, that is very much in proportion to the figures of 600 projectiles produced per month . . . .
It was difficult to procure the necessary amount of oxygen for industrial purposes. I found reasons against the expansion of this program. The bottleneck here was the electro-industry on one side, and oxygen on the other . . . . I had refused to produce more than 600 a month. Originally 900 were planned. I had also refused to carry out an initial expansion of the anti-aircraft rocket. I said that when the anti-aircraft rocket comes, V-2 will have to step back and its capacity used for the anti-aircraft rocket, because it was too great a luxury for me. I could have made about 5 to 6 Fighters with the same manpower as the V-2 took, which would have been better from my point of view. It is a technical experience to see such a rocket, piloted by a ray from below. That is technically the most advanced thing one can imagine . . . .
There was the danger that the projectile would not take off straight. Then one could observe the steering, how the projectile was always brought back into the right direction again . . . . As far as I know, a projectile came back (straight down) 10 or 12 times. But then there is none left in the neighborhood, except the command tank with the two people who guide the projectile. It happened that the fusing of the explosive charge did not immediately take effect, but only a few moments later, so that this last service crew could also get away. The worst thing was when the projectile could not be brought into the right direction, coming down approximately 30 kilometers from the launching site.
June 16, 1944 Eisenhower to Tedder:
…with respect to CROSSBOW targets, these targets are to take first priority over everything except the urgent requirements of the battle (Overlord); this priority to obtain until we can be certain that we have definitely gotten the upper hand of this particular business. (Eisenhower II)
June 18, 1944: The Germans launch another mass attack of V-1s against London, with explosions every five minutes at the peak. Just a few blocks from 10 Downing Street, the Guards Chapel at Wellington is hit, as well as Buckingham Place and Parliament, killing 80 officers and family members and wounding 120. Churchill hurries back from Chequers to supervise the evacuation of Parliament to Church House and coordinate anti-V-1 measures. (Eisenhower II)
June 18, 1944 Goebbels Diary:
People are already making bets that the war will be over in three or four or eight days. I see this as an enormous danger for us if these exaggerated hopes and illusions are not met. In the end, those carried away by enthusiasm will blame the government. I fear this excessive enthusiasm will end in great disappointment. That cannot happen. I have therefore given the press and radio firm instructions to reduce the revenge propaganda and keep to purely factual reporting.
June 22, 1944: Churchill to Home Secretary Bridges and General Ismay:
I have decided that the "Crossbow" Committee, over which I have hitherto presided, should consist of a smaller group charged with the responsibility for reporting upon the effects of the flying bomb and the flying rocket and the progress of counter-measures and precautions to meet it . . . . This committee will report daily, or as often as it may be necessary. (Ismay)
From Marching Orders by Bruce Lee: In the summer of 1944, when word reached London that the Germans might be developing a new rocket weapon, the V-2, to replace the V-1, (OBE research scientist Standish) Masterman went to Poland, via Tehran and Moscow, to study a rocket-firing installation abandoned by the Germans while retreating from a Russian attack.
At the time, skeptics did not believe that Germans could launch a long-range rocket, even though portions of such a missile had been recovered in Sweden and Poland after misfires. The team of experts-British, American and Russian-assigned to the case were baffled when they first arrived at the captured launch site. The records of V-2 firings were missing. These would have provided the amounts of fuel, range and payload. A careful search of the site finally turned up the crucial missing documents. But these had "already been used as lavatory paper by German troops who had found themselves in short supply of that commodity in their precipitate retreat in the face of the Russian offensive. Nevertheless the task of decipherment had to be faced, and a painstaking but necessarily grisly restoration process finally confirmed that the rocket could reach London."
Unexpectedly, the Russians proved to be the most squeamish participants in this dirty work of reconstruction. The British members of the delegation took a wry "the things we do for England" view of the unsavory but vital job.
June 27, 1944: As one million women and children are being evacuated from London, Home Secretary Herbert Morrison reports to the War Cabinet that 200,000 homes have so far been damaged in V-1 attacks, and that shattered sewage systems could bring serious epidemics if not repaired before winter. (Eisenhower II)
June 27, 1944: Sergey Korolyov, along with Tupolev, Glushko and others, is finally discharged from the sharashka by special government decree, though the charges against him will not be dropped until 1957. The design bureau is handed over from NKVD control to the government's aviation industry commission. Korolyov will continue working with the bureau for another year, serving as deputy designer under Glushko and studying various rocket designs. (Harford)
June 30, 1944: Reich Minister of Armaments Speer writes to Hitler: "But in September of this year the quantities required to cover the most urgent needs of the Wehrmacht cannot possibly be supplied any longer, which means that from that time on there will be a deficiency which cannot be made good and which must lead to tragic consequences." (Speer)
June 1944: V-1 attacks kill 1,935 and injure 5,906.
From Speer's SBS Interview: For one thing the dispersal (of V-2 hits) was so great that no real effect could be obtained. I considered the nerves of the Englishmen to be so good that they would stick it out anyway. And your victories came first. A victorious nation could not be impressed by that. I believe however, that the development of the V-2 will definitely be the most important factor for war in later times. At the present time it did not come to full effectiveness. It can be launched from a ship, from every street. They do not need a previously prepared launch site and in the course of time their striking accuracy will be just as great as with bombing . . . .
It happened that the development of the V-2 had been sponsored for so long by the Army that it was a matter of honor with the Army to bring it to conclusion. The V-2 was therefore protected with particular love by the Army Armament Office (Heereswaffenamt), and it was in contrast to all other items that the Army got a special quota in order that nothing could happen to it. One could almost have gotten the impression that we did not have any other special interest. The V-1 was begun in competition with the Luftwaffe. I was surprised at the propaganda effect which the V-1 called forth and that there was such a stir about it. I was really the vanquished, for I had always said that it would have no effect at all on the enemy, and then there came rather excited reports.
Further details must be learned from Field Marshal Milch, who promoted this with the overall aircraft people (Ueberalluftreugmeister). The V-2 was supported by the former Lt. General Fromm and General Leeb. The interest of the Fuehrer was first awakened several months previously by a lecture at Headquarters. Until then he did not expect so much from it. He was instructed about the V-2 by Braun and Dornberger. The developer of the V-1 was named Lusser.
July 2, 1944: Das Reich publishes Harald Jansen's Erste V.1-Bilanz article:
...Weeks passed and now the missiles fly overhead. The invasion concentrated men and material in the southeast of the island, and increased their vulnerability. Even in the first week, there was a division of labor between German warplanes and the new weapon. The long-range bombers received an ally. The V-1 took its place. This is unsettling for our opponents, and represents a two-fold danger to their war effort, unless they find a defense as quickly as possible. The enemy's propaganda is based on the glories of four-motored bombers, on the fanfare of air power and shouts of triumph over burning German cities. The citizens of London were told: "1940 will not be repeated. The Germans can no longer do anything to us...
July 5, 1944: From a poorly identified captured German IMT document concerning a Hitler decree:
According to press reports, the Anglo-Americans intend in the future to attack from the air small places, too, which are of no importance militarily or to the war economy, as a retaliatory measure against the V-1. Should this news prove true, the Fuehrer wishes it to be made known through the radio and the press that any enemy airman who takes part in such an attack and is shot down will not be entitled to be treated as a prisoner of war, but, as soon as he falls into German hands, will be treated as a murderer and killed. This measure is to apply to all attacks on small places which are not military targets, communications centers, armament targets, and the like, and therefore, are not of importance to the conduct of war. At the moment nothing is to be ordered; the only thing to be done is to discuss such a measure with the Wi. Ru and the Foreign Office.
July 6, 1944: From Prime Minister Churchill's "Poison Gas" Memo:
If the bombardment of London became a serious nuisance and great rockets with far-reaching and devastating effect fell on many centers of Government and labor, I should be prepared to do anything that would hit the enemy in a murderous place. I may certainly have to ask you to support me in using poison gas. We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany in such a way that most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention. We could stop all work at the flying bomb starting points. I do not see why we should have the disadvantages of being the gentleman while they have all the advantages of being the cad. There are times when this may be so but not now...
July 10, 1944: Field Marshal Smuts to Churchill:
In view of the spectacular Russian advance, and of the capture of Caen, which forms a welcome pendant, the Germans cannot, as things are now developing, face both fronts. They will soon have to decide whether to throw their main weight against the attack from the east or that from the west. Knowing what to expect from a Russian invasion, it is likely that they will decide on concentrating on the Russian front. This will help to ease our task in the west. Having broken through at Caen, it is essential that we should maintain the initiative and offensive without pause, and advance to the rear of the German flying bomb bases as soon as possible...I continue to hope that in the end your strategy will again prove successful, backed as it is by every sound military as well as political consideration. (Churchill)
1944: Sergey Korolyov and Glushko design the RD-1 kHz auxiliary rocket motor. It is successfully tested in a fast-climb Lavochkin La-7R and is intended to protect the capital from high-altitude Luftwaffe attacks. (Harford)
July 17, 1944: From a report by Duncan Sandys (above) to the British War Cabinet:
The layout of our defenses against the flying bomb has been reviewed in the light of the results obtained during the past few weeks. Experience has shown that under the original plan fighters and guns frequently interfered with one another and that an unnecessarily large proportion of the flying bombs destroyed were brought down over land. It has accordingly been decided to re-deploy our defenses in four distinct belts, as follows:
(i) Fighter Belt at Sea: Fighter aircraft will operate under close radio control at a distance of not less than 10,000 yards from the shore.
(ii) Coastal Gun Belt: All anti-aircraft guns allotted for defense against the flying bomb will be deployed in a narrow strip 500 yards in width, extending along the coast . . . .
(iii) Inland Fighter Belt: Inland, between the coastal gun zone and the balloon barrage, there will be a second fighter belt in which aircraft will operate under running commentary control. The bursts of anti-aircraft fire in the gun belt should be a great help to pilots in spotting the line of flight of approaching bombs. By night they will have the additional assistance of searchlights over the whole of the inland fighter zone.
(iv) Balloon Belt: There will be no important changes in the boundaries of the balloon barrage. The redeployment of the anti-aircraft guns on to their new sites along the coast was carried out over the week-end and the new defense plan came into operation at six o'clock this morning.
From Eisenhower At War 1943–1945 by David Eisenhower: The distinctive buzz emitted by the pilotless aircraft shortly before dropping on random targets at any time of day or night had injected a new element in the war of nerves. In his diary Butcher wrote that "most of the people I know are semi-dazed from loss of sleep and have the jitters, which they show when a door bangs or the sound of motors from motorcycles or aircraft are heard." Widewing and Telegraph Cottage attracted more than a fair share of alerts. On one night alone, Butcher counted twenty-five V-1 explosions between 7 PM and 1 AM. Routinely, Eisenhower, Summersby, Butcher, Gault, McKeogh and Hunt retired to the stark white-walled shelter to spend the night in sleeping bags or cots . . . .
Fighters and anti-aircraft together would down 46 percent of all V-1s fired. Of the 10,500 V-1s launched at England, an estimated 25% flew off course because of malfunction. Roughly 20 percent penetrated British defenses and hit targets, claiming 10,000 lives and1.1 million homes, including parts of the Royal Lodge, Windsor Castle and the Hampton Court Palace. These figures, while grave, did not justify prolonged diversion of strategic bombers. SHAEF stood by its conclusion that the V-1 was neither an effective 'city destruction' weapon, nor very useful militarily . . . .
Crossbow peaked on the nights of July 4-5 and 7-8 in two intensive raids on launching sites and storage depots at Calais. On the fifth, 227 Lancasters dropped six "earthquake" bombs, but the sites escaped damage. V-1 attacks resumed, and Crossbow was quietly downgraded, with Churchill's tacit consent. At a press conference Eisenhower put the best light on this decision. He expressed sympathy for the plight of the British population. He conceded that the flying bombs, if equipped with infra-red type guidance systems, might have great military possibilities some day. For now, though, he said he did "not like them and everyone with whom I talk shares this feeling." The flying bomb was "a nuisance" and the military had resolved to "get on with its work and pay no attention to it."
Meanwhile, the War Cabinet resolved to push the British flying bomb program. "What will be their application in our hands?" Air Chief Marshal Bottomley asked Tedder that week. "In their present form they are a toy," Tedder replied, "but their development will profoundly affect both war and peace."
July 18, 1944: Eisenhower modifies his June 16, 1944 order (giving first priority to rocket sites) to include strikes against secondary-priority targets:
Instructions for continuing to make CROSSBOW targets are first priority must stand. But I think it would be well to issue an overall policy that, when we have favorable conditions over Germany and the entire strategic forces cannot be used against CROSSBOW, we should attack: (a) Aircraft industry, (b) Oil, (c) ball bearing [German: Kugellagerwerke], (d) Vehicular production. (Eisenhower II)
July 23, 1944: From an article by Goebbels:
As our V-1s raced over the English Channel for the first time during the night of 16 June, the English public was struck by paralyzing fear. The British Home Secretary Morrison saw himself forced to speak to the House of Commons the next morning about the use of our new weapon of revenge. He did that in a very tortured manner, openly admitting the seriousness of the situation for the British capital, but also attempting to reduce or even deny the serious effects of our revenge weapon. He apparently believed that he could deceive us about the extent of the damage caused, which was not possible, since our months of tests gave us opportunity to understand the new V-1 weapon in every detail, in particular its accuracy and explosive force. But there was yet another crucial reason behind the British home secretary's attempt to make our first revenge weapon ridiculous. He did not want to give foreign countries the chance to learn the effects of the V-1, particularly since English government circles hoped to develop sufficient defensive measures. These hopes have proved vain...
From Speer's SBS Interview: Dr. Goebbels had written an article about the wonder weapon and discredited me very much with it, since everybody looked to me for speedy delivery of this wonder weapon. Then in a speech I told the propaganda leaders that I expected no military effect from these weapons. Only a moral effect of the wonder weapons was taken to the troops through the grapevines. That was personally unpleasant to me, because nothing new could happen and anyway I considered it false because it was my opinion that the fighting power of the troops was not strengthened by it, but weakened instead.
From Winston Churchill and his Inner Circle by John Colville: In 1944 the Prof (Professor F. A. Lindemann) went to war with Duncan Sandys, then at the Ministry of Supply, about the size of the warheads to be expected on the German V-weapons and the damage they would be likely to cause. He was right in some of his assertions, wrong in others. Feelings ran high, and Duncan Sandys, in spite of being Churchill's son-in-law, was placed firmly in the Prof's blacklist . . . .
It may be that ... the importance of the intelligence services has been overstated, except in such vital scientific areas as the detection of the wireless directional beam and the V-bombs. There were exceptions, by no means least the system organized by J. C. Masterman for the detection and subsequent utilization of enemy agents in the Allied cause. There were also ingenious deception plans devised to mislead the Germans. However, as far as British espionage itself went, it is permissible to doubt whether the results justified the effort.
July 24, 1944: Duncan Sandys informs the British War Cabinet: Although we have as yet no reliable information about the movement of projectiles westwards from Germany, it would be unwise to assume from this negative evidence that a rocket attack is not imminent.
July 1944: In the second month of V-1 attacks, 2,442 die while 7,107 are injured. This is the high point of V-1 effectiveness. The numbers will now decline as the British "develop sufficient defensive measures."
From Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth by Gitta Sereny: The Soviets had launched their offensive on June 10 with more than a million men on four fronts, and in one week captured four strong points Hitler had designated as areas "to hold at all cost." By August 1, they recaptured Vilnius, Lublin and Brest Litovsk, as well as all of Estonia and Latvia, and, having cleared the whole of Russian territory of the invader, they arrived within four hundred miles of Berlin.
The long delayed launching of the first flying bombs (V-1s) on June 12 was a dud, and even when they became operational were disappointing in their minimal effect on British morale. The V-2s, finally ready in September after long delays, would cause more damage but again would not succeed in breaking the spirit of London's hardy inhabitants, including, from the first day of the war to the last, Britain's royal family.
Speer, when talking to me, said time and again that there was a pathologically self-destructive element in Hitler's insistence on issuing orders the only resultant "glory" of which could be death. Almost the same thing could be said about Speer himself, who, however reunited with Hitler, was by this time not only aware that the war was lost, but also of the penalties likely to be imposed by the Allies on individual Germans who had committed war crimes.
August 3, 1944 Goebbels' Diary:
In the afternoon (at a conference on August 2) Speer speaks for two hours ... giving them for the first time the detailed new production figures [including those for the V-1 and A-4, which will become the V-2] which cause a great sensation: his achievements, of which the Gauleiter really had no idea, are very impressive and have a calming effect on them.
August 10, 1944: Albert Speer, the Reich Minister for Armaments, and General Adolf Galland, in opposition to Hitler's ordered transfer of the newly refurbished Reich air fleet to the West, meet with Hitler at his headquarters. Speer and Galland contend that any air fleet unfortunate enough to be deployed within reach of the American and British air forces will soon be completely destroyed. Hardly have their arguments been voiced when Hitler breaks out in a rage: "Operative measures are my concern! Kindly concern yourself with your armaments! This is none of your business." He dismisses the two with "I have no more time for you." (Speer)
August 11, 1944: Speer and Galland, about to fly back to Berlin, are summoned back to the still raging Fuehrer for a further dressing down: "I want no more planes produced at all. The fighter arm is to be dissolved. Stop aircraft production! Stop it at once, understand? You’re always complaining about the shortage of skilled workers, aren't you? Put them into flak production at once. Let all the workers produce antiaircraft guns. Use all the material for that too! Now that's an order. Send Saur to headquarters immediately. A program for flak production must be set up. Tell Saur that too. A program five times what we have now . . . . We'll shift hundreds of thousands of workers into flak production. Every day I read in the foreign press reports (about) how dangerous flak is. They still have some respect for that, but not for our fighters." Note: Hitler will later allow the production of aircraft to proceed after being informed that it is simply not possible to convert all those aircraft plants to flak production. (Speer)
August 25, 1944: The Joint CROSSBOW Target Priorities Committee (established July 21) prepares the Plan for Attack on the German Rocket Organization when Rocket Attacks Commence—in addition to the bombing of storage, liquid-oxygen, and launch sites, the plan includes aerial reconnaissance operations. (Gruen)
August 27, 1944: This day's Magic summary contains a dispatch from Baron Oshima in Berlin, informing his home office of recent information received from Reich Under Secretary von Steengracht, who says that the Germans are considering a withdrawal to the east-central part of France.
Such a withdrawal would cause Germany to lose her Atlantic submarine bases and would be a drastic measure; however, Germany's most important aim now is to maintain control of the launching sites for the V-1 and also for the V-2. The V-2 is expected to be used shortly. Although details about it are not known, it is said that its effectiveness is about ten times that of the V-1 and that sufficient supplies have already accumulated to make continuous firing possible. (Lee)
August 31, 1944: Speer tells a group of colleagues that "I do not intend to succumb to the psychosis of attaching too much importance to the new weapons. Nor am I responsible for the extremely prominent place they are being given in our propaganda." (Speer)
August 1944: Fatalities from all V-1 attacks total only 190 for the entire month. (Gruen)
September 1, 1944: The very last V-1 attack to be launched from France occurs. (Gruen)
From Triumph and Tragedy by Winston Churchill: Our Intelligence had played a vital part (in defeating the Flying Bombs). The size and performance of the weapon, and the intended scale of attack, were known to us in excellent time. This enabled our fighters to be made ready. The launching sites and the storage caverns were found, enabling our bombers to delay the attack and mitigate its violence. Every known means of getting information was employed, and it was pieced together with great skill. To all our sources, many of whom worked amid deadly danger, and some of whom will be forever unknown to us, I pay my tribute. But good Intelligence alone would have been useless. Fighters, bombers, guns, balloons, scientists, Civil Defense, and all organizations that lay behind them, had each played their parts to the full. It was a great and concerted defense, made absolute by the victory of our armies in France.
September 3, 1944: Since the expected V-2 attacks have not begun, Crossbow bombing is suspended and the Oil Campaign becomes the highest priority. (Gruen)
September 7, 1944: The day before the first V-2 rocket is fired at London, British Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, issues an upbeat statement announcing that "the Battle of London has been won."
September 8, 1944–March 27, 1945: Goebbels renames the A-4 the Vergeltungswaffe 2 (V-2) and Hitler orders its deployment as a weapon of terror against Belgium, Southern England and Northern France. (Piszkiewicz)
September 8, 1944: At 6:43 PM, a V-2 rocket strikes Chiswick, west London. Seconds later, a second V-2 strikes Epping. Upon hearing the news, von Braun reportedly remarks: "The rocket worked perfectly except for landing on the wrong planet." Note: All told, around 3,200 V-2s will claim the lives of 2,724 victims, with an additional 6,000 injured. Ironically, many more people will die as slave laborers in the building of the V-2 rockets than will ever be killed by it as a weapon. (Lee)
From Speers' IMT testimony: In this phase of the war Hitler deceived all of us. From the summer of 1944 on he circulated, through Ambassador Hewel of the Foreign Office, definite statements to the effect that conversation with foreign powers had been started. Generaloberst Jodl has confirmed this to me here in Court. In this way, for instance, the fact that several visits were paid to Hitler by the Japanese Ambassador was interpreted to mean that through Japan we were carrying on conversations with Moscow; or else Minister Neubacher, who was here as a witness, was reported to have initiated conversations in the Balkans with the United States; or else the former Soviet Ambassador in Berlin was alleged to have been in Stockholm for the purpose of initiating conversations. In this way he raised hopes that, like Japan, we would start negotiations in this hopeless situation, so that the people would be saved from the worst consequences.
To do this, however, it was necessary to stiffen resistance as much as possible. He deceived all of us by holding out to the military leaders false hopes in the success of diplomatic steps and by promising the political leaders fresh victories through the use of new troops and new weapons and by systematically spreading rumors to encourage the people to believe in the appearance of a miracle weapon--all for the purpose of keeping up resistance. I can prove that during this period I made continual reference in my speeches and in my letters, which I wrote to Hitler and Goebbels, as to how dishonest and disastrous I considered this policy of deceiving the people by promising them a miracle weapon.
September 1944: The Red Army overruns a V-2 research unit at Dembidze, Poland. (Menaul)
September 14, 1944: Speer to Hitler:
Belief in the imminent commitment of new, decisive weapons is widespread among the troops. They are expecting such commitment within days or weeks. This opinion is also seriously shared by high-ranking officers. It is questionable whether it is right, in such difficult times, to arouse hopes which cannot be fulfilled in so short a time and therefore must necessarily produce a disappointment which could have unfavorable effects upon morale. Since the population, too, is daily waiting for the miracle of the new weapons, wondering whether we know that the eleventh hour is already upon us and that holding back these new—stockpiled—weapons can no longer be justified, the question arises whether this propaganda serves a useful purpose. (Speer)
September 15, 1944: At the Quebec summit conference between Roosevelt and Churchill, the Treasury Plan for the Treatment of Germany, known as the Morgenthau Plan, is adopted. Its three main points are:
1) Germany is to be partitioned into a number of independent states (map above).
2) Germany's main centers of mining and industry, including the Saar area, the Ruhr area and Upper Silesia are to be internationalized or annexed by neighboring nations.
3) All heavy industry is to be dismantled or otherwise destroyed.
Note: The Morgenthau Plan, along with the Allied policy of unconditional surrender, will fuel Nazi propaganda. Opposition among some Allies to the plan, as well as Cold War realities, will ultimately cause most of its provisions to be ignored.
September 17, 1944 Operation Crossbow: Crossbow bombing resumes with a raid on Dutch targets suspected to be bases for Heinkel He 111s, which are air-launching V-1s. Note: 865 V-1s will be air-launched from September 16, 1944–January 14, 1945.(Gruen)
October 19, 1944: Stalin appoints Chelomei (Vladimir Chelomey) chief designer of a reverse-engineered V-1 rocket program. (Harford)
October 30, 1944: Dressed in "bright red, soft morocco leather riding boots with silver spurs...wearing an amply cut thick fur coat of Australian opossum, the fur outwards," according to the account of the rocket sites commander, General Dornberger, Goering visits Peenemuende to view the latest anti-aircraft rockets: "He pretended to be studying the drawings on the walls, but he was no longer looking at them. He was totally disinterested . . . . About every five minutes his eyes started to turn until one could only see the whites. He staggered, reached into the pocket of his coat, and swallowed a small, round, rose red pill. Instantly, he straightened and appeared to be quite normal again. After five minutes, the same process . . . . When he climbed the stairs to the roof of the small tracking building of the "waterfall" project, he pulled a heavy revolver out of its holster, threw it up in the air several times and caught it again. His adjutant took the weapon away from him with the remark that it was loaded and not on safety." (Read)
November 18, 1944: From the Jefferies Report, The Impact of Nucleonics on International Relations and the Social Order:
Since the area of the earth does not increase, the advantage of the attacker constantly increases with increasing technical development. If two people are in a room of 100 feet by 100 feet and have no weapons except their bare fists, the attacker has only a slight advantage over his opponent. But if each of them has a machine gun in his hands the attacker is sure to be victorious. Similarly, as long as the weapons of war were of the caliber of rifles and guns, the act of attacking gave very little advantage. The situation had already changed substantially with the advent of the airplane; the present war illustrates this point clearly. With the production of nuclear bombs, however, the world situation approaches that of two men with machine guns in a 100 by 100 foot room. (Sherwin)
December 11, 1944: Speer to Hitler:
In view of the whole structure of the Reich economy, it is obvious that the loss of the Rhenish-Westphalian industrial area will in the long run spell ruin for the whole German economy and the further successful prosecution of the war. This would mean, in fact, the total loss of the Ruhr territory as far as the German economy is concerned, with the exception of products manufactured locally within the sector . . . . It is superfluous to discuss the consequence resulting for the whole German Reich if it is deprived of the Ruhr territory.
December 16, 1944 Beleidigender Ardennes: Hitler's big gamble in the West, the Battle of the Bulge, gets underway in Belgium and Luxembourg.
December 17, 1944: From a Goebbels article in Das Reich:
The time to make history is short, and he who does not use the opportunity fails. The burdens of such a time certainly may seem unbearable, but those burdens decide which nation is called to victory and which is damned to defeat...
January 13, 1945: Speer, in conversation with "a group of generals and corps commanders":
I have repeated again and again that we cannot expect miraculous secret weapons, and I have also notified the Fuehrer several times that I consider this entire propaganda campaign utterly wrong-headed, not only because it is misleading but also because it underrates the German soldier’s fighting powers . . . . We will never have a secret weapon that will end the war in one blow. There is simply no such thing in the offing. (Speer)
January 25, 1945 Beleidigender Ardennes: Hitler's big gamble, the Battle of the Bulge, collapses. The last of the German reserves are now gone.
January 27, 1945: From the notes of a Fuehrer conference:
Hitler: Do you think the English are enthusiastic about all the Russian developments?
Jodl: No, of course not. They have quite different plans. Perhaps we'll discover the full extent of their plans later.
Goering: They certainly didn't plan that we hold them off while the Russians conquer all of Germany . . . . If this goes on we will get a telegram (from the English) in a few days. They were not counting on us defending ourselves step by step ... holding them off like madmen while the Russians drive deeper and deeper into Germany, and practically have all of Germany now . . . .
Jodl: The English have always regarded the Russians with suspicion.
Hitler: I have given orders that we shall play a trick on the English—an information sheet telling them the Russians are organizing 200,000 of our men (German POWs) led by German officers, all of them infected with Communism, and they will be marched into Germany. I have ordered this report to be delivered to the English. I have discussed it with the Foreign Minister (Ribbentrop). That will be like sticking them with a needle.
Goering: They entered the war to prevent us from going East, not to have the East reaching out to the Atlantic.
Hitler: That's quite clear. It is something abnormal. The English newspapers are already saying bitterly: Is there any sense in this war?
Goering: On the other hand I have read a report in Braune Blaetter that they can support the Russians with their air force. They can reach the Russian forces with their heavy bombers, even though it is a long flight. But the information comes from an absurd source.
Hitler: Tactically, the English cannot support them. Since we don't know where the Russians are and where we are, how on earth can the English know?
Hitler then assures the assembled participants that this strategy—instilling the fear of unchecked Russian expansionism in the hearts of the British and Americans—will yet prevail. However, the conference ends with no decision being made as to the defense of the Oder. (Payne, Shirer, Read)
1945: Sergey Korolyov is awarded the Badge of Honor, his first decoration, "for participation in the development and testing of rocket motors for military aircraft." Later in the year, he is commissioned into the Red Army, with a rank of colonel. (Harford, Piszkiewicz)
February 13–15, 1945: 1,300 heavy bombers drop over 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices in four raids on the city of Dresden. Estimates of civilian casualties vary greatly, but recent scholarship places the figure at somewhere between 24,000 and 40,000.
February 17, 1945: Peenemuende is evacuated by the Germans. (Piszkiewicz)
Duncan Sandys: The advent of the long-range, radio-controlled, jet-propelled projectile has opened up vast new possibilities in the conduct of military operations. In future the possession of superiority in long-distance rocket artillery may well count for as much as superiority in naval or air power. High-grade scientific and engineering staff, together with extensive research facilities, will have to be maintained as a permanent part of our peacetime military organization.
1945 Science Speculation Articles: The Road to Space and Into the Stratosphere by A. Morris.
February 25, 1945: Joseph Stalin signs a decree creating special "trophy battalions." These specialized units soon begin establishing working relations with every Soviet Army Group in occupied Poland and Germany. Their mission is to remove all and any industrial equipment, materials and personnel deemed useful to the Red Army from both countries. By September 1945 there will be 48 trophy brigades, 23 of which will be deployed in Germany, seven in Poland and six in Czechoslovakia. (Menaul)
March 1, 1945: FDR reports to Congress on the Crimean Conference:
When we met at Yalta, in addition to laying our strategic and tactical plans for the complete, final military victory over Germany, there were other problems of vital political consequence. For instance, there were the problems of occupational control of Germany after victory, the complete destruction of her military power...
March 13, 1945: According to Das Geheimnis by Edgar Mayer and Thomas Mehner, Adolf Hitler says to officers of the German Ninth Army this day:
We have invisible aircraft, submarines, colossal tanks and cannon, unbelievably powerful rockets, and a bomb with a working that will astonish the whole world. The enemy knows this, and besieges and attempts to destroy us. But we will answer this destruction with a storm and that without unleashing a bacteriological war, for which we are also prepared . . . . All my words are the purest truth. That you will see! . . . . We still have things that need to be finished, and when they are finished, they will turn the tide.
March 13, 1945 Goebbels' Diary:
This evening's Mosquito raid was particularly disastrous for me because our Ministry was hit. The whole lovely building on the Wilhelmstrasse was totally destroyed by a bomb...The Fuehrer telephones me immediately after the raid on the Ministry. He too is very sad that it has now hit me. So far we have been lucky even during the heaviest raids on Berlin. Now, however, we have lost not only a possession but an anxiety. In future I need no longer tremble for the Ministry. All those present at the fire voiced only scorn and hatred for Goering. All were asking repeatedly why the Fuehrer does not at last do something definite about him and the Luftwaffe.
The Fuehrer than asks me over for a short visit. During the interview I have with him he is very impressed by my account of things. I give him a description of the devastation which is being wrought and tell him particularly of the increasing fury of the Mosquito raids which take place every evening. I cannot prevent myself voicing sharp criticism of Goering and the Luftwaffe. But it is always the same story when one talks to the Fuehrer on this subject. He explains the reasons for the decay of the Luftwaffe, but he cannot make up his mind to draw the consequences therefrom. He tells me that after the recent interviews he had with him Goering was a broken man.
But what is the good of that! I can have no sympathy with him. If he did lose his nerve somewhat after his recent clash with the Fuehrer, that is but a small punishment for the frightful misery he has brought and is still bringing on the German people. I beg the Fuehrer yet again to take action at last, since things cannot go on like this. We ought not, after all, to send our people to their doom because we do not possess the strength of decision to root out the cause of our misfortune.
The Fuehrer tells me that new fighters and bombers are now under construction, of which he has certain hopes. But we have heard it so often before that we can no longer bring ourselves to place much hope in such statements. In any case it is now plenty late—not to say too late—to anticipate any decisive effect from such measures.
March 1945: A team of Soviet rocket specialists in Poland attempt to send an Li-2 aircraft loaded with salvaged V-2 components to Moscow. The plane crash lands near Kiev and only a portion of the shipment ever makes it to the Soviet capital. (Menaul)
March 25, 1945: The rocket-powered Kamikaze aircraft Ohka is used for the first time by Japanese forces against US naval forces. Note: 852 Yokosuka MXY7s, known as "Ohka flying bombs" and code-named Baka (fool), were built with rocket engines and short air-foils. These were launched at ships, and were virtually unsteerable.
March 27, 1945: The last V-2 attack against England occurs.
April 2, 1945: RAF bombers destroy Nordhausen city in two nighttime fire raids, killing 1,500 sick prisoners at Boelcke Kaserne. (Sellier, Verrier)
April 3, 1945: The Germans begin the evacuation of Camp Dora at Nordhausen. (Piszkiewicz)
April 10, 1945: The medics of the US 3rd Armored Division report that they have discovered Nordhausen Death Camp on the way to Camp Dora. In the two adjacent camps they discover 5,000 corpses. 1,200 patients are soon evacuated, with 15 dying on their way to the hospital area and another 300 subsequently dying of malnutrition. (Sellier)
April 11, 1945: The German city of Nordhausen is occupied by the US 3rd Armored Division.
From the US 3rd Armored Division War Diary: Nordhausen was entered on 11 April by Combat Command "B." The enemy offered little opposition in the town itself. Perhaps they feared being connected, in some way, with the notorious Nordhausen concentration Camp, near the city. This camp was uncovered in all its depravity by the 3rd Armored Division, and steps were taken to insure that photographic and other evidence was collected before any changes were made. Even the great piles of starved dead were left as found.
Division medical personnel quickly removed the hundreds of starvation cases to emergency hospitals where they could be cared for. Many of the less severe cases were cared for on the premises, while systematic arrangements were made to save as many lives as possible, by organizing the facilities of the camp. Medical officers of the 3rd Armored remained in charge, until relieved as the division moved on.
North of Nordhausen, at a place called 'Dora', the 3rd Armored uncovered one of the Germans' most extensive and elaborate underground factories. This factory, devoted to the construction of V-1 and V-2 weapons, and Junkers airplane motors, as well as extensive experimentation with a super-secret V-3 anti-aircraft weapon, was underground. Some of the tunnels were at a depth of six hundred feet and extended for two miles. Here, at the V-2 Assembly plant at Kleinbordungen, the most able-bodied of the inmates from Nordhausen Concentration Camp were forced to work at manufacturing and assembling parts. Both of these plants were taken and secured by the 3rd Armored.
From The Conquest of the Reich: D-Day to VE Day--A Soldiers' History, by Robin Neillands: The killing at Dora had continued to the end; six slave workers had been hanged in the factory on March31. Other workers were executed at Dora for lack of zeal or to encourage the work force by being strangled on a six-noose gallows; fifty-seven prisoners were once hanged at Dora in a single day. Of the 60,000 slave workers sent to Dora, 40,000 had died by the end of the war, and they were still dying, when tanks of the 3rd US Armored Division rolled into Nordhausen. Only 400 were still alive in the Dora compound, lying in their own excrement, surrounded by corpses, some of them, according to an eyewitness, 'stacked up in heaps, like firewood.'
When the sound of American artillery reached the camp on 5 April 1945, the slaves of Dora were hurriedly evacuated, many to the camp at Belsen. Over a thousand of them did not get that far. Their SS guards marched them into barns at Gardelegen in Northwest Germany and set the barns alight. Many of their tormentors were far more fortunate, escaping punishment, or being spirited away to safety. Werner von Braun and Arthur Rudolf, the head of production at Dora, were taken to the United States, and richly rewarded for their part in the American space program.
April 12, 1945: The US destroyer Mannert L. Abele is sunk by a rocket-powered Ohka kamikaze rocket plane.
April 12, 1945: President Roosevelt dies; Truman becomes President. The Allies liberate Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps.
April 22, 1945: From Benito Mussolini's Political Testament (From Edgar Meyer and Thomas Mehner's Hitler und die Bombe: Welchen Stand erreichte die deutsche Atomforschung und Geheimwaffenentwicklung wirklich.):
The well-known mass destruction bombs are nearly ready. In only a few days, with the utmost meticulous intelligence, Hitler will probably execute this fearful blow, because he will have full confidence . . . . It appear, that there are three bombs—and each has an astonishing operation. The construction of each unit is fearfully complex and of a lengthy time of completion."
April 23, 1945: The first Soviet trophy brigades to specialize specifically on rocket scientists and equipment takes the field. (Menaul)
May 2, 1945: On the same day Berlin falls to the Soviet Army, von Braun and over 100 of his team flee to the relative safety of the American front. His brother and fellow rocket engineer, Magnus, spotting an American private from the US 44th Infantry Division, addresses the soldier in broken English: "My name is Magnus von Braun. My brother invented the V-2. We want to surrender." (Braun)
From The Day the War Ended by Martin Gilbert: On May 2, at Oberammergau, in southern Germany, American troops were approached by three German civilians, who gave themselves up. The first to reach them, and to explain who he was, was Dr Herbert Wagner, one of Germany's leading guided missile designers. With him were two senior members of the Peenemünde rocket research staff, Wernher von Braun and General Walter Dornberger. These were the men whose technical expertise had created the rocket bombs that had recently fallen on London and Antwerp, killing thousands of civilians.
The three men were hurried to Paris, and then to the United States. "We were interested in continuing our work," von Braun later wrote, "not just being squeezed like a lemon and then discarded." They may have been squeezed, but they were not discarded. A direct line of cause, effect and personnel was to run between the encounter at Oberammergau and the American Apollo ... project which landed the first human beings on the moon twenty-four years later.
May 5, 1945: Soviet troops enter Peenemuende to find that all the leading German rocket scientists have evacuated with the Americans. (Menaul)
May 7–8, 1945 VE Day: The Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.
May 9, 1945: Stalin to Truman:
I thank you with all my heart for your friendly congratulations on the unconditional surrender of Hitler Germany. The peoples of the Soviet Union greatly appreciate the part played by the friendly American people in this liberation war. The joint effort of the Soviet, US, and British Armed Forces against the German invaders, which has culminated in the latter’s complete rout and defeat, will go down in history as a model military alliance between our peoples. On behalf of the Soviet people and Government I beg you to convey my warmest greetings and congratulations on the occasion of this great victory to the American people and the gallant US Armed Forces. (Churchill)
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