A few years ago, I happened to visit the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama -- yes, Noble Readers, I do get around somewhat - and I saw there preserved, almost as if in aspic, the office of Wernher von Braun.
Now, Wernher von Braun, you may recall, was the German rocket scientist who worked to develop the equipment that would eventually put a man on the moon. A previous blog of mine mentioned some of von Braun's earlier handiwork: the notorious V2 missile, used by the Nazis to kill several thousand people in my city. So you can imagine that I have mixed feelings about the man and my brief moment looking into his office ...
Did America do right by spiriting this Nazi (and he was a Nazi all right) off to Alabama to get the jump on the Russians so far as the next phase of weapons development was concerned? Sure. No question. Much better than hanging him after a short appearance in Nuremburg. It might even be argued that we (I use the term loosely to include myself) managed to turn a Nazi back into a human being. Personally, I doubt von Braun spent much time confronting himself with moral
questions, but then what do I know?
One of my particular heroes is a guy named Tom Lehrer, part scientist, part piano-playing satirical song-writer, all-round genius. If you don't know of him already, go Google him and you could learn much from his current incarnation on Youtube -- "Lehrer" is, after all, German for "teacher."
For your edification, here's what Tom, writing in the early 'Sixties, said about Wernher: