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Panel discussion at U.S. Space and Rocket Center features Operation Paperclip scientists' children

Wernher von Braun and his team of German scientists were brought to America at the end of World War II through a program called Operation Paperclip.

Posted: Jul 15, 2019 5:13 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2019 10:42 PM

The development of the Saturn V rocket would not have been possible without Wernher von Braun and his team of German scientists. They were brought to America at the end of World War II through a program called Operation Paperclip. 

On Monday, there was a panel discussion at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center featuring the children of those scientists, introduced by von Braun’s daughter, Margrit.

“There are generations after me, and I think we all stand on the shoulders of those great accomplishments that the rocket team started,” Margrit von Braun said.

It was a secret operation authorized by President Truman in 1946 to gather up hundreds of German scientists and engineers and bring them back to work for the United States. Army officers would attach a paper clip to the files of the ones they wanted.

Martin Dahm‘s father had a clip on his folder.

"He was an aerodynamicist," Martin Dahm said.

Wernher Karl Dahm worked on air flow as rockets flew into space. Martin himself is an aerospace engineer and said his father couldn’t wait to develop rockets to go to space instead of for war.

“And they were really hoping to push this more towards space exploration than the missile weaponry,” Martin Dahm said.

Klaus Dannenberg’s father, Konrad Dannenberg, worked on propulsion systems with the team at Redstone. He donated his personal notebooks to the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

"It’s kind of like one of [Christopher] Columbus’ crew taking notes while Columbus was on the way,” Klaus Dannenberg said.

Getting to the moon was his first career, but perhaps his greatest legacy lives on in the eyes of future generations.

”Finally, he wound up coming to work here at the Space and Rocket Center and was one of the originators, together with Ed Buckley of Space Camp,” Klaus Dannenberg said.

Check out more of our Apollo 11 50th anniversary stories here. To watch our Apollo 11 specials, click here and here.

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