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An American in Exile
The Story of Arthur Rudolph
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Rudolph showing a model of the Saturn V
Rudolph showing a model of the Saturn V

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March 27, 1984. “It was a wretched, sad day,” Marianne Rudolph remembers. She was waiting in the San Francisco airport with her mother and with her father, Arthur Rudolph, and it was about time for her parents to board their plane.

Before his fall from grace Dr. Rudolph had been a distinguished scientist who led America to the moon, and received the highest honors NASA can bestow. Neal Sher, a Government lawyer, was there too.

“We hadn’t expected him,” Marianne said. “Mom and I left Dad for just a few minutes and Sher pounced on him. I guess he wanted to make sure Dad carried out his part of the bargain.” Marianne bade her parents a tearful farewell and watched as their plane taxied away. In a moment it was in the air, carrying them into exile for the rest of their lives.

Arthur Rudolph’s departure in disgrace from the United States was just one more incredible scene in the drama of his episodic life, a drama of hunger, defeat, and brushes with death– of recovery, achievement, and glory– and now, at age 77, of betrayal and ignominy. The drama stretches back to a place called Stepfershausen, a tiny village which is today just across the border in communist East Germany.

There Arthur Rudolph was born in 1906, the son of modest farm folk. His love of things mechanical was evident from the start, and one of his earliest memories is of being carried in his father’s arms to a place in the village where a steam roller was operating, and of pounding on his father’s chest with his fists in protest when he would let him watch no longer. “I was fascinated by the hissing steam, the to-and-fro motion of the pistons, the drive belts, and so forth,” Rudolph says. But not for long would the little boy have his father to enjoy.

He died on the Eastern Front in World War I, and Rudolph’s widowed mother had to sell a part of the farm so that Arthur could go to college. He graduated from the College of Berlin in 1930 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

His first permanent job was in a Berlin suburb with a firm called Heylandt, a manufacturer of oxygen, a commodity that would find a pivotal role in the big war that was to come– and already we can imagine the first jerky movements of a hand as it begins to scribble its message on the wall. On his second day at work there occurred an unexpected incident that set Rudolph on his life’s path.

Right after quitting time he was startled by a loud, unexplained roar, and he rushed outside to investigate. There he found a colorful Austrian by the name of Max Valier. Rudolph had not met Valier before, but he recognized him. “I had seen pictures of him in magazines, and he was in the newsreels, so he was well known,” he explains. “He had written a book about flying to the planets. He was a far-out thinker.”

Valier was famous for his experiments with rocket sleds and rocket cars, and Rudolph had found him at his test stand, where he had just fired one of his primitive rockets. Rudolph was fascinated with this slightly kooky visionary who talked of going to the stars, and he talked him into letting him become his unpaid assistant. So the two worked together after hours and on weekends, doing experiments on little rockets about a foot long. They had begun a promising relationship, but it was tragically short-lived.

One Saturday they were experimenting, measuring the thrust of their rocket with a kitchen scales. All day they had been working. It was just about dark and they still hadn’t reached their goal of 100 kilograms on the scales, but they decided to make just one more run and see if they could push the indicator over the mark. Suddenly the rocket they were testing exploded. Rudolph was knocked flat on his back, and the wall behind him was peppered with holes from flying metal. When he got up he saw that all that was left of the rocket was a steady stream of oxygen, visible from the vapor it formed, spraying into the air. Valier was slouched in the arms of another assistant, moving his lips, but making no sounds. A chunk of metal had pierced his chest and severed his aorta. Within a minute he was dead.

The Valier accident caused a public uproar, and a bill was introduced in the Reichstag which would outlaw rocket experiments. It didn’t pass, but the proprietor of the Heylandt works forbade further experiments in his plant. By now, though, the contagion of rocketry, with its alluring promise of traveling into space, had so infected Rudolph that he was determined to continue experimenting where Valier had left off. “I remember that I was so fascinated by this experience and the question of why in the world did the Valier explosion happen,” he said. “I started investigating flow patterns of the kerosene and oxygen. One is very cold and the other warm. When they meet what happens?” Rudolph worked surreptitiously in an abandoned lab at the Heylandt works, coming out into the open with experiments when the owner was out of town.

Rocketry was a work of love for him in those days, but it soon became a work of survival. The Great Depression swept across the waters from the United States and rolled over Germany, and like millions of others Rudolph lost his job. But after a period of unemployment he managed to get a contract from the German Army to design and build an experimental rocket motor, and when it performed satisfactorily he was offered a permanent job. The officer who hired him later described him as “a lean starved-looking engineer with reddish-blond hair.”

When Rudolph signed on with the Army, Wernher von Braun was already there. Von Braun, the bright and charismatic young physicist who would become known around the globe, had come to work some months earlier, and he, Rudolph, and a mere handful of others formed the coterie of the rocket team that would soon shake the world. At first they ran their experiments at an artillery range near Berlin but soon outgrew it and had to find a place with more space. One day von Braun returned to work after a weekend visit home and announced that his mother had told him where he should build his new rocket research facility. It was at a spot on the Baltic called Peenemuende, meaning mouth of the Peene River. The Scientist’s mother prevailed and the rocket team moved to the Baltic.

A beautiful self-contained community was carefully planned and put in place at Peenemuende. Well constructed facilities and nice homes of permanent construction for the scientists and their families were built. The settlement had its own school. With such a concentrated cluster of intellectual power the community had more of an academic atmosphere than that of a military installation, and even after the war started it kept an idyllic isolation. Arthur Rudolph loved working in research and development, and he loved his association with von Braun, so he protested vehemently when he was told to become manager of production of the A-4 Rocket, since it required that he break away from both. He could not dissuade his superiors, however, so he went dutifully about his task of ordering production equipment and setting up an assembly line for the A-4, better known by the name that Joseph Goebbels gave it as the V-2 (Vergeltungswaffe-2, or Payback Weapon-2).

But at just that moment when he was ready to commence production, Rudolph’s plans were disrupted by another brush with death. On the night of 17-18 August 1943, the British hurled their entire Bomber Command, every plane they could get off the ground, at Peenemuende. Six hundred planes started bombing around midnight. Hoping to catch the scientists in their beds, they had made one of their targets the residential area. Rudolph, his wife and their daughter Marianne, five years old at the time, huddled in a bunker in their backyard, terrified, as wave after wave of bombs thundered down around them. Then there came a moment of special terror. Fire from an incendiary bomb came through the top of the bunker and set little Marianne’s hair on fire, and she and her mother had to smother the fire with their hands. When finally the raid ended the Rudolph family emerged from their bunker, and in the dark night beheld a grisly world of fire and destruction. Their own house took no direct hit but was uninhabitable from near misses.

At daybreak all the wives and children were evacuated from Peenemuende. And several days later Rudolph got a surprising phone call from the commanding general. “Rudolph, we’ve got to move the V-2 facility to a safer place,” he said. “Get with Sawatzki and go with him to the new site.” So Rudolph got into an Opel with this man named Sawatzki, a person he barely knew, and headed for he didn’t quite know where. In fact they drove south about 300 kilometers to a place near Nordhausen called the Mittelwerk, and when they got there Rudolph got two surprises: First, this so-called Mittelwerk, or Middlework, was an incredible underground labyrinth. It had been excavated before World War I as a gypsum mine. Second, he learned that forced laborers supplied by the SS from their concentration camps were to be used as the main labor force. Now began the 18-month period from which would spring the ghosts to haunt Rudolph in his old age.

The production equipment at Peenemuende had been relatively undamaged in the British raid, so he moved it to the tunnels of the Mittelwerk, and production began. Then one evening in 1944, at 52 seconds past 6:40, the first V-2 arrived in London. Mary Lee Settle of Charleston, West Virginia was there. “On the eighth of September I was walking with a friend in Soho when the ground under us heaved and then was still again. Six miles away the first V-2 had landed in Chiswick,” she wrote. “They were terrible, in all the classic sense of that misused word. There was no warning. If you heard the explosion you were safe. It was a miracle they weren’t launched earlier. I believe that London could have panicked under too long a siege of them.”

The conditions inside the tunnels of the Mittelwerk where the V-2 was produced were primitive, especially at first. There were no sanitary facilities, only open barrels that were used as toilets. In other parts of the tunnel network blasting operations were in progress to enlarge the underground area, and dust produced by the explosions spread throughout the tunnels, causing moisture to condense, sometimes producing a sort of rain. The Dora concentration camp was built nearby to house the prisoners, but until it was completed they had to sleep in the tunnels. Prisoners, as well as some of the civilian work force, died as a result of the unhealthy conditions. And Rudolph tells of a particularly brutal act by the SS.

“I think it was January of 1945,” he said. “I got a phone call from a high SS officer, and he ordered me to stop all work and bring my civilian employees to a particular place in the tunnel. The SS led the prisoners to the same place. When we got there, there was a public hanging of several prisoners. The SS told me that the hangings were punishment and deterrence for an attempt by the prisoners to take over the plant in an uprising and murder the leading civilians.” Rudolph added that he himself knew of no such planned uprising.

Almost until the end of the war Rudolph worked in the Mittelwerk as the V-2 production manager under Sawatzki. He had no control over the prisoners, who were guarded and supervised by the SS. There were about 2,500 of these forced laborers in each of two shifts, and twice a day the SS would march one group out of the tunnels back to the camp, and march the other group in. The rules forbade the civilians to deal directly with the prisoners on the production line, although Rudolph said that as a practical matter this was sometimes done anyway.

Rudolph was constantly watched and threatened, and was, in a way, not much above a forced laborer himself. The extreme stress of the Mittelwerk took its toll on him as it did on others. When he entered the tunnels he weighed 180 pounds. When at last he came out of this bizarre netherworld he was down to 124. At the end of the war he was in the Bavarian countryside, running and hiding to save his life.

As the Allies had tightened their noose around the Nazi regime, rocket components flowing into the Mittelwerk had slowed to a trickle, and by early spring of 1945 production had run down to a halt. The Americans were advancing from the west and it was only a matter of time until the Mittelwerk would fall into their hands. Suddenly Rudolph was ordered to join with an SS contingent and, within the hour, retreat to Bavaria, to Oberammergau, the place of the famous passion play. “I didn’t like going with the SS,” Rudolph said. These guys might try all kinds of things in desperation.” He managed a short delay in his departure and to go separately from the SS. When he got to Oberammergau, the other V-2 scientists were there too, having received the same orders he had. The SS was also there, and it was rumored that they planned to shoot the scientists rather than allow them to fall into enemy hands. If they all stayed together, that would only facilitate a mass execution. Dispersal was the obvious self-defense measure to be taken. “We went out into the countryside, out into the Bavarian villages,” Rudolph said. “We slept in barns or on the sofas of strangers’ private homes.”

Rudolph and his colleagues kept constantly on the move, and their run-and-hide tactic worked. The Americans soon appeared and took them into custody. Rudolph was taken with the others to Garmisch, where he was interned in an old German barracks. “It was nice in the barracks,” he said.” There was plenty of food– maybe not the best but plenty of it. And we could shower. There was hot water and we could take a hot shower.” For Arthur Rudolph a splash of hot water on his body was the event marking the end of World War II.

As soon as the conflict in Europe ended, and even before, the first shots were being fired in the nascent Cold War. Russia and the United States entered an intense competition for German brains and technology. Our side had teams of soldiers and civilians which followed the invading troops, perhaps even went in ahead of them sometimes, seeking out the documents, equipment and people needed to transfer German expertise to America. When key people were found they were put into detention, as Rudolph was. At first the idea was that the technical teams would pick the scientists’ brains on site, but it wasn’t long before an obvious idea came forth: take the scientists to the United States.

And of course that’s what happened. In what was called “Project Paperclip” some 600 scientists were brought to the United States under sponsorship of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Commerce Department. Von Braun and his people, including Arthur Rudolph and more than 100 others, were brought over as a team and stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. Rudolph helped assemble captured V-2s, check them out, and fire them at White Sands Proving Ground in various experiments.

In 1950 the von Braun team was transferred to Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama. In October of 1957 the Russians surprised us with Sputnik. The United States had been planning a satellite, and the von Braun team had the hardware in a warehouse to launch it, but had been held back by President Eisenhower in favor of a rocket being designed by the Navy especially for the job. With the first little beeps of Sputnik, though, the tough bureaucratic shackles abruptly fell away, von Braun was given the go ahead, and within three months Explorer I joined its Russian colleague in the sky.

For the Army Rudolph managed the development of the Pershing I missile. When NASA was formed von Braun and most of his team became the nucleus of Marshall Space Flight Center which was established on Redstone Arsenal, and Arthur Rudolph joined them later. After President Kennedy set the goal of sending a man to the moon, von Braun gave Rudolph one of the most critical jobs he had to offer, that of developing the Saturn V. The Saturn V was the giant booster rocket that lifted the astronauts off the ground and sent them toward their lunar rendezvous.

Shortly after Neil Armstrong took his famous one small step Arthur Rudolph retired from NASA. During his career he had received awards, medals and an honorary degree, and at his retirement his congressman inserted words of glowing praise in the Congressional Record. Some years after he retired he and his wife moved to San Jose, California to be near their daughter. Thirteen years after he retired, and very unexpectedly, his trouble started.

He and his wife had been away on a trip. “The letter was delivered to us the day after we got back,” he recalls. “It was a registered letter from the OSI. They wanted to know if I would meet with them and answer some questions about my activities from 1939 through 1945.”

The OSI, or Office of Special Investigations, is the brainchild of Elizabeth Holtzman. Holtzman was the congresswoman who, in an upset victory at the polls, ended the 50-year congressional reign of Emmanuel Celler, and who became well known from her performance on national television during the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon. She claimed that there were thousands of war criminals afoot in the country, and she was intensely dissatisfied with the lack of government aggressiveness in pursuing them. She used her influence as a member of the House Judiciary Committee to persuade the Justice Department to implement a new initiative. In 1979 the OSI was formed as a unit within the Justice Department with the sole responsibility of hunting down Nazi war criminals.

Rudolph had never heard of the OSI, but their request seemed innocuous. This was a curious situation, yes, but he certainly had nothing to hide. He had divulged all his wartime activities to his U. S. captors at the end of the war, not once but several times, as well as to friends and colleagues, and this was now all history, well known and musty with age.

Besides, this wasn’t 1944 in Hitler’s Germany, and this wasn’t the Gestapo that wanted to interrogate him. This was the United States of America, the same country that had recruited him at the end of the war to help strengthen the free world against communism, the same country that he had helped to beat the Russians to the moon, the same country that had taken him in as one of its own citizens, the same country that had pinned medals on his chest, the same country whose Congressional Record bore glowing testimony to his patriotic accomplishments, the same country known the world over for its humanitarianism and fairness. And his questioners were from just that part of the American Government whose very name was “Justice.”

What was there to worry about? He would go and meet these people, simply repeat what the Government had known for eons, and be done with it. So a naive Arthur Rudolph obligingly bundled up his papers from 40 years earlier and, without a lawyer, proceeded to the San Jose Hyatt House, the place selected for the meeting. “This was of course my stupid mistake, my stupid naiveté,” Rudolph said later. “I was dumb, dumb, dumb– dumb!”

At the Hyatt House Rudolph found three affable young men waiting to greet him: Allan A. Ryan, Jr., Director of the OSI, Neal M. Sher, Deputy Director, and Eli M. Rosenbaum, Trial Attorney. He was sworn in and the questioning began, with a court reporter taking down the questions and answers. Sher and Rosenbaum did most of the talking with Ryan listening quietly most of the time. The three questioned Rudolph about his youth in Germany, his activities during the war, and especially about his views regarding “racial superiority.” He replied that there was no such thing as what Hitler called an Aryan race, that through the centuries invading armies that crossed Germany left their children behind, creating a melting pot similar to the United States. “So a Nordic race is nonsense,” he said.

The trio of lawyers questioned Rudolph for five hours. Three months later they asked for a second meeting, and he went to the Hyatt House again, this time also without a lawyer. Ryan was absent from this meeting but Sher and Rosenbaum were there and they questioned him for three hours more, generally covering the same ground as in the first meeting.

For months Rudolph heard nothing, then he got a letter from Neal Sher suggesting that he get a lawyer so that he, Sher, could discuss with the lawyer the “evidence amassed to date.” Rudolph, it so happened, had in the meantime already gotten himself a lawyer, a man named George Main, choosing him from an advertisement he saw in a newspaper.

Main had a series of discussions with the OSI lawyers and they told him that they had evidence showing Rudolph to be a war criminal. While in the Mittelwerk he had persecuted forced laborers, they said. They planned to strip him of his citizenship, and they threatened to take away his NASA pension and to take the citizenship of his wife, and of his daughter. However they offered him a deal. If he would sign an agreement promising to leave the country and renounce his citizenship, they would allow him to keep his pension and other retirement rights, and wouldn’t try to revoke the citizenship of any other family member.

“I had absolutely no idea what was going on,” Marianne Rudolph said. “There was no inkling even when I went to see Mom and Dad.” But one Sunday Rudolph called his daughter and said that he and his wife wanted to come to see her. “When they walked in the door my Mom’s face was down to her knees,” Marianne recalls. “They really looked bad, and I almost panicked. I knew something was wrong– very, very wrong.”

Marianne’s parents told her what had happened, and weeks of agony followed. What should Arthur Rudolph do? Stand and fight, or leave quietly? He insisted that he was innocent, but the OSI said that they had both documentary evidence and witnesses, and if Rudolph was to go to trial he would have to find his own witnesses to rebut whatever testimony the OSI witnesses would give. After four decades many potential witnesses had died, and investigators would have to scour Europe, at his expense, if he was to find the people he needed. He was not a wealthy man. A trial of the kind this would be, would certainly require $100,000, probably more. He could not afford that kind of an expense.

His health was also a big factor. He was 77 and had had a near-fatal heart attack. One day he had collapsed on the floor of a supermarket and turned blue. By accident an off-duty police officer came by, gave him resuscitation, and saved him. Later he had had surgery on the artery in his neck. “There is no way that Dad could have survived the pressure of that trial,” Marianne said. “He looked as white as a sheet. He was absolutely numbed by the whole thing. It would have killed him.”

As the days went on the OSI turned the screws tighter.” They told us that if we didn’t sign the agreement within such and such a time, that then they would do something else,” Marianne remembers. “And so on we went, and on we went, and on we went. And we were getting more and more frightened that they may pull the annuity away.

“Finally, on one of our visits to the lawyer we were just sitting there, and I think that we must have all come to the same conclusion within the space of five minutes. We said, ‘It’s best if Dad leaves the country instead of going to trial.’ There hadn’t been a word said. It was just that suddenly there in the lawyer’s office we looked at each other, and it must have been mental telepathy.”

Rudolph signed the agreement, and that day in March when he left the country Neal Sher was at the airport to see that he carried it out– and maybe to savor his own victory. “Sher stayed until the airplane was in the air,” Marianne said. “He must have been afraid that after it pulled away from the gate it would turn around and come back.”

Mrs. Rudolph had a sister living in Hamburg, so she and her husband went there to live with her until they could get a place of their own. Today they live in a Hamburg apartment.

When Rudolph’s story hit the press it caused a shock. His old friends, who knew nothing of his plight until after he had left the country, were incredulous. How could this be? they asked. Some of them went to work in his behalf and pieced together the parts of his case, and some astonishing details came to light.

The most obvious question is, What are the crimes Rudolph was charged with, and what is the evidence he committed them? He confessed to nothing. In the agreement he signed with the OSI he only acknowledged that he was “familiar with the allegations” that he had participated “in the persecution of unarmed civilians because of their race, religion, national origin, or political opinion,” and this is evidently what he stands accused of.

In September of 1983 Sher and Rosenbaum met with Rudolph’s attorney, George Main, and, while Rudolph waited in a side room, discussed the evidence against him. “The OSI didn’t want any written or personal contact with me anymore. So the meeting took place without me,” Rudolph said. Main made a written record of the meeting, however, and it shows that the OSI asserted that the “primary evidence against Mr. Rudolph is in his depositions.”

But the information in Rudolph’s depositions is the same as that he gave to his interrogators at the end of the war. He was interviewed several times, but an interview at Fort Bliss, Texas in 1947 is of particular interest, since the transcript of that interview still exists. A simple side-by-side comparison of it with the depositions Sher and Rosenbaum say contain the “primary evidence” shows no significant differences. The OSI learned nothing about Rudolph the Government hadn’t known for nearly 40 years.

Sher and Rosenbaum also said that they had some half dozen witnesses, but wouldn’t identify them. They did make a special point of one of these witnesses, though, and they went out of their way to shroud him or her in mystery. They said that they could produce a “German civil worker who directly links Mr. Rudolph to providing the SS leaders with sabotage reports.” In support of this they handed to Main a single typewritten sheet with certain words and phrases obliterated. This, they said, was an extract from their unnamed witness’ “deposition.” Their contention was that Rudolph reported prisoners for committing sabotage, the prisoners were punished, and Rudolph was therefore guilty of having participated in their mistreatment.

It was Rudolph’s own daughter who discovered the hoax. After her parents had gone to Hamburg, Marianne found in the National Archives the same typewritten page Sher and Rosenbaum had given to Main. It was no “deposition” at all and it certainly was not from “their” witness. The truth was that it was a page from the courtroom testimony of a lady named Hanne-Lore Bannasch given at the Dachau Trials in 1947. The OSI lawyers had merely Xeroxed it, doctored it to disguise its identity, and misrepresented it to Main as something it was not. Bannasch had been a secretary to Sawatzki, Rudolph’s boss in the tunnels. When her identity became known she was contacted and questioned about Rudolph, and she exonerated him. In a written statement she said, “I want to state at this time emphatically and in detail that I have known Arthur Rudolph since 1939 as an absolutely decent man who never committed even the least improprieties against the camp inmates in the work force.” The OSI’s star witness was thus shown to be a sham. This unknown accuser, whose identity Sher and Rosenbaum had so carefully concealed, was no witness for the OSI at all, but in fact was a very strong witness for the defense.

There is a way in which the identity of the other OSI witnesses can be inferred. When Rudolph was deposited on German soil as a stateless man, the West German Government asked the OSI to provide to them the evidence they had against him so that they could determine whether he could be prosecuted under German law. After a delay of nine months, during which several reminders were sent to Germany, the OSI responded with a letter which enclosed the transcripts of Rudolph’s OSI interrogations, numerous excerpts from World War II vintage documents, and gave the names of nine witnesses. Assuming that the OSI wasn’t withholding any pertinent information from the German Government, the half dozen witnesses they claimed to have when they talked to George Main had to be among these nine.

Attorney General Duhn of Hamburg conducted a two-year investigation of Rudolph, and his report included his evaluation of these witnesses. Two gave wildly accusatory information which Duhn rejected because it conflicted with previously well established facts. Two were mentally unfit to testify, and one actually gave testimony favorable to Rudolph. The remaining four said they knew nothing about Rudolph. Duhn cleared Rudolph of any wrongdoing, and he was soon thereafter granted German citizenship. In sum, then, the OSI had discovered nothing new about Rudolph’s wartime activities. Their so-called evidence was no more than the information he himself had supplied when he was captured at the end of the war. The irony is that once the OSI got Rudolph in the spotlight numerous witnesses came forward with evidence supporting him.

Hanne-Lore Bannasch has already been mentioned. There is also Martin Adler, one of the nine putative witnesses whose names the OSI gave to Germany. He had been an inmate of the Dora camp and a forced laborer. But when he was interviewed as a part of Attorney General Duhn’s investigation he gave only information favorable to Rudolph, saying, for example, that Rudolph had no responsibility for the treatment of prisoners.

Theo Webers, Gerhard Schramm, Rudi Koenig, Heinz Hilgenboecker, Roman Drung, and Francis Barwacz were all forced laborers in the tunnels, and all have come to Rudolph’s defense. Scramm, for example, says that he knew Rudolph well and that he “stood up well for us prisoners and got us additional rations.” Koenig says that, “Mr. Rudolph was a well liked supervisor by everybody, including prisoners; he obtained for quite some prisoners special rations and alleviations.” Barwacz says that the German civilian scientists “were very kind to us prisoners, never hollering or yelling or hitting any prisoner.”

The 1979 (U. S.) Attorney General’s Report states that the function of the newly-formed OSI is to track down those who committed war crimes and subsequently “falsified their application for entry into the United States.” (Emphasis added.) But no one has even accused Rudolph of lying. He falsified nothing.

On the other hand, the OSI adapted falsification as its primary tool, and used it, together with trickery and intimidation, to induce Rudolph to give up his citizenship. Sher and Rosenbaum behaved as galloping cowboys in an old black-and-white movie. They were vigilantes riding hell-for-leather to a necktie party, determined to dish out their own kind of justice to the branded bad guy, quickly and without too much fuss.

Rudolph is no longer important to the security, prestige or prosperity of the country. The only thing that is at stake today is justice, and justice, as it often does, is taking the hindmost. Across the sea Arthur Rudolph, now 82, is living out his allotted days, depressed and homesick for America. He is an American in exile.

Hugh McInnish was born in 1934 in Union Springs, Alabama (pop circa 3,500 in 1930, 1960, and now) and grew up there. He has a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama and a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

He has lived in the Huntsville area since 1964, where he worked for the Army in the Star Wars and other defense programs. He retired in 1993.

For a number of years Hugh wrote a weekly column for the old Huntsville News, and from one of the stories that he pursued came the book which he wrote, An American in Exile. Written under Hugh’s pen name of Thomas Franklin, it is the tale of Arthur Rudolph, the former NASA scientist who was stripped of his citizenship and banished from the country for war crimes allegedly committed during the war.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Political Correctness, World War II 
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  1. Dan Hayes says:

    As an unfortunate postscript to this sad tale, Arthur Rudolph died 1 January 1996 (age 89).

  2. utu says:

    Frank Walus was luckier because he got his citizenship reinstated but his life was destroyed by false accusations of Simon Wiesenthal and the overzealous Nazi hunting unit at DOJ.

    Frank Walus

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Walus

    NAZI ACCUSATIONS TURN LIFE INTO A NIGHTMARE

    https://www.nytimes.com/1983/05/01/us/nazi-accusations-turn-life-into-a-nightmare.html

  3. Dungo jay says: • Website

    The whole idea of Rudolph maltreating prison labor in between building rockets and doing complex rocket calculations is absurd.But if the case against him is fishy what about other war criminals and how guilty are they?

    • Replies: @Tom Welsh
    , @Herald
  4. Biff says:

    I really didn’t need further proof that Empire will use you up like a cheap whore, and then once you are of no further benefit or use; you simply are slotted into the category of ‘useless eater’. At that point anybody is ripe for allegations – even false ones.

  5. JackOH says:

    I recall reading about the Arthur Rudolph case, and was pretty horrified that the legislation that created the OSI was never called out as a kowtowing to Jewish extremists’ special pleading within Congress.

    • Agree: Mike P
  6. It was reported less than a month ago that efforts are underway to dramatize this story in an upcoming TV series. Three Israeli writers are working on this project, which will surely not be a fair documentary to set the record straight regarding the false OSI allegations. Instead, be prepared for a malicious propaganda presentation, full of intentional distortions and false innuendo.

    The plot will revolve around an Alabama town called Huntsville, where the families of 118 Nazi scientists settled in 1950 to develop ballistic missiles for the U.S. military under CIA supervision.

    Israeli Writers Team Up for TV Series on Nazi Scientists at NASA

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israeli-writers-team-up-for-tv-series-on-nazi-scientists-at-nasa-1.6567102

    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
  7. Tom Welsh says:

    A fairly typical story of US government hypocrisy. When Mr Rudolph is an attractive asset, they pay no heed to any allegations or evidence that he might have done wrong. Why would they? After all, they themselves do wrong systematically, habitually, and on an industrial scale.

    They exploit Mr Rudolph’s knowledge, experience, skill and hard work until his career is finished and he can do no more for them.

    At that point some vile scum of a Congressperson decides to gain some small political capital by persecuting a sick, exhausted old man for crimes he plainly did not commit. While, of course, she must have been fully aware of the immensely greater crimes that her own government was deliberately committing every single day. The crimes of the US government since 1939 are, if anything, greater than those of Nazi Germany – although admittedly spread over a far longer period.

    It’s the American way. Anyone who trusts them for a split second, in any way, is going to be very sorry indeed.

  8. RVBlake says:
    @Sean

    I watched this presentation just days ago, and it was the first thought that passed my mind as I read this article.

  9. Tom Welsh says:
    @Dungo jay

    If some all-powerful, impartial body were to ask me to draw up a list of war criminals, I know perfectly well where I would look. And it wouldn’t be Nazi Germany, any more than it would be Napoleonic France or classical Athens.

    • Agree: anarchyst
    • Replies: @chris
  10. Wade says:

    From Wikipedia..

    Neal M. Sher is an American lawyer who is the former head of the Office of Special Investigations and former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Since 2002, he has been a solo practitioner in New York City.

    [Eli] Rosenbaum was a trial attorney with OSI from 1980 to 1984. In 1984, he left the Department of Justice to work as a corporate litigator with the Manhattan law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and then as General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress.

    Oh ok, the whole horrible episode makes perfect sense now!

  11. I think it ties into something I’ve noticed before; the Jewish quest for identity.

    Of course, to be a Jew, logically one has to practice Judaism. But who practices a religion these days?

    In the post-religious era, there are two touchstones left for Jewish identity: Israel and the Holocaust. To be a genuine Jew, you’ve got to care about one of them.

    Well, maybe you don’t feel like moving to Israel. That leaves the Holocaust. So how to prove to yourself that you care about the Holocaust? Why, hunt down those who perpetrated it.

    If it all happened long ago, though, you’re going to be kind of short on living perpetrators, and of course many of the actual bad men were caught and duly hung long ago, so you work with what you got.

    …like the unfortunate Doctor Rudolf. Hey: he was in the same place as Holocaust victims. He’ll do.

    • Replies: @Wally
  12. Seems Rudolph was one of the luckiest people ever and on the whole got s sweet deal.

    • Replies: @Wally
  13. JLK says:

    I have no problem with the creation of the OSI, but their judgment and ethics were often suspect. A Federal judge found they withheld evidence on the Demjanjuk extradition. They were dissolved by Congress shortly thereafter.

    The Israelis were actually more decent to Demjanjuk, giving him a chance to adduce additional evidence obtained from the Soviets after his conviction and letting him go instead of charging him with being a guard at another camp.

  14. Anon[346] • Disclaimer says:
    @Sean

    Damn, that was an eye-opening talk. Can’t imagine having a better defense attorney than this guy. He seems like he could think through facts and legal permutations as fast as Deep Blue thinks through chess moves. He want to Harvard and Harvard Law. Here’s his bio: https://www.regent.edu/school-of-law/faculty/jd-james-j-duane/

    • Replies: @Sean
  15. Moltas says:

    I wonder why the OSI never investigated immigrants in USA that was involved in the genocides in Turkey and Russia…

  16. This is another example of why I read the Unz Review.

    I knew something about Arthur Rudolph, but I had no idea how unfairly he was treated, and I had not seen this book. The man was a hero — and a victim of the perversion of justice described here.

    People in wartime find themselves in all kinds of situations not of their choosing. By all accounts, Rudolph comported himself in an exemplary manner through it all. Shame on the United States, shame on us, for allowing zealots to do this to one the men who helped us have the privilege of sending the first men to another world.

    As a schoolboy, I built a model of Engineer Rudolph’s moon rocket. It looked just like the one he is holding in the picture. I watched the real Saturn V send men to the Moon. Those men in Huntsville who created that amazing rocket were heroes to me. They always will be.

  17. The Nuremberg Trail as well was largely a Jewish-run scam, nothing more than a show trial document atrocities against Jews that never occurred.

  18. Herald says:
    @Dungo jay

    How guilty? We are unlikely to find out but this case tells us that there are likely to be many more miscarriages of justice.

  19. Sean says:
    @Anon

    Sometimes the best lawyer is the wrong lawyer. You need a lawyer they have never heard of rather that a shit-hot one. Otherwise they are going to assume you are a heavy-duty professional criminal. “They” are not the jury, but believe me what they ‘they’ think makes a big difference. The very best lawyers will tell you to get someone else before it comes to trial.

  20. The Jewish propensity for blind hatred is unmatched.

  21. “Arthur Rudolph passed away on January 1, 1996, without being exonerated by the U.S. government in this travesty of justice. But on September 5, 2003, some justice was served in this case that is a stain on the American democratic principle of fairness.

    The newspaper Forward reported that Neal Sher, the former chief of staff in the Washington office of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, had been disbarred. Sher had been investigated for misappropriating funds for personal use.”

    https://www.scientistsandfriends.com/files/arthur.pdf

  22. I thought you all hated foreigner immigrants. Typical consistency.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
    , @Wally
  23. What does not get mention in this piece: what is the legal status of countries that not only harbor ex-Nazi rocket scientists whose mission was to produce advanced missiles that would be used against the West? The US went a step further, by using such scientists in developing their own rocket and missile programs. Cherry-picking culprits and measures adopted against them is a culture deeply entrenched in America’s political DNA. Often measures are arbitrary and include the destruction of entire societies based on fabricated evidence and blatant lies – collective punishment comes to mind. A country of the rule of law anyone? Gangsters have their standard operating procedures and rules too.

  24. Rudolph’s story adds credence to the claim that the Nuremburg trials were all an act, a show designed to justify German war reparations, and lay the foundation for the totally fake holocaust story. Somehow the truth needs to find it’s kegs and history must be put straight. Even today in Germany the Jews are putting grandmothers in jail for telling the truth of WW2. This is why it’s not going to end well for Jews. To them there are no innocents. because the Jews are all to the man guilty of profiting from their lie.

  25. @obwandiyag

    ‘I thought you all hated foreigner immigrants. Typical consistency.’

    We make an exception for foreigner immigrants who can build space rockets.

    Most countries operate on a similar principle, actually. What can you bring? Why should we let you in?

  26. Wally says:
    @Colin Wright

    said:
    “If it all happened long ago, though, you’re going to be kind of short on living perpetrators, and of course many of the actual bad men were caught and duly hung long ago, so you work with what you got.”

    And who were these “bad men” and what were their alleged crimes?

    http://www.codoh.com

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  27. @Wally

    ‘…And who were these “bad men” and what were their alleged crimes?’

    The ‘bad men’ were Nazis, Wally, and they murdered millions of innocent people.

    • Replies: @Wally
  28. Wally says:
    @obwandiyag

    said:
    “I thought you all hated foreigner immigrants. Typical consistency.”

    Nope, only the parasitical, low IQ, unemployable, 3rd world kind of immigrant.

  29. Wally says:
    @Colin Wright

    said:
    “The ‘bad men’ were Nazis, Wally, and they murdered millions of innocent people.”

    Not they did not, and you absolutely have no proof they did, very simple, as I demonstrated here:

    American Pravda: Holocaust Denial, by Ron Unz: http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-holocaust-denial/

    And you dodge, you can’t even name a single one. How pathetic.

    http://www.codoh.com

  30. @Been_there_done_that

    Dr. Wernher von Braun actually had a 1960 film made about him starring Curt Jurgens:

  31. Che Guava says:

    I see that the comments thread on this article is not very popular.

    That may be a good thing.

    In any case, I found Mr. McInnish’s article very informative, knew of others than von Braun collected in Op. Paperclip, but not much detail, they just were implied in the background of the occasional Hollywood movie, heard his name, but never knew of such bad treatment as Arthur Rudolph received.

    Seeing a really big rocket take off is quite weird, I have only done so once, from Japan’s number two launch site at Uchinoura. Since the place is so green, high hills until near the shore, relatively sparsely inhabited (driving south of the small town, where everybody is in fishing, ag., rockets, or small business, exceeding the speed limit when safe, I timed two hours with no vending machine in sight), and it was abt. three a.m., it was like the biggest candle in the world being lit, and the sound, the only comparison I can make is to a quite-to-very big earthquake, though not the same, but similar sounding. Quite moving.

    I suppose that to Russian readers, the places are too far away for most, likely to many in the U.S.A. (but less so), and you will not enjoy viewing from a place with so little other artificial light as I was lucky to, but to see a big rocket take off is truly awe-inspiring and strongly recommended if you have not seen one live, and have the chance to, take the children if present. It is nothing like seeing it in a film or on T.V.

    If in the U.S.A., think of your debt to Arthur Rudolph and others like him (yeah, I am enough of a fan and student to know of Goddard, he did great work, but it did not feed into the work of the Germans, more of a side-story).

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