The German Society for Space Travel (1927) was comprised of engineering students whose passion for space travel reached heights far greater than their actual achievements. Building their own rockets from private funds, launching these, and following each launch with wonderful picnics of wine, women and song, formed the heart of these largely visionary journeys. Nevertheless, there were a few member for whom the desire to reach for space was much more than a personal afterhours hobby, a pursuit of dreams with only picnics and dancing as their reward. Friedrich Stamer piloted the first German-made rocketplane to 4000 feet in 70 seconds (1928). Dr. Oberth published his “Means for Space Travel” (1929), and Hermann Noordung described artificial satellite and space station designs (1929).
By now, the challenge to create bigger and better rockets became a decision which a few now demanded. The perfection of this craft was their goal, a serious step into professional rocket engineering. Indeed these demands became realities, with greater precision in designs. More thrilling results were the outcome of this pursuit of excellence. The craft of rocket making was rapidly losing its visionary lure, and becoming an engineering theme. This lunge forward marked a defined line between those who wished the preservation of a hobby, from those who wished the development of an engineering profession. Some members of the German Rocket Society who wished more serious outcomes began seeking more serious funding. This small group of engineers, whose passion for space travel reached wonderful experimental perfections, decided to approach various governmental agencies. Seeking funds through patents and royalties, the notion of utilizing rocketry in the delivery of mail was proposed; a system which worked, but found no utility at the time.
But these wonderful dreams also stimulated some toward the use of rocketry in the art of devastations. Next in line of governmental contacts was the military, a very obvious application of their rocket technology in national defense. German military officers, who early discerned the use of rocket systems in weapons delivery application, were surprised to discover that the Berlin Rocket Club had advanced to such a degree on personal funding alone. Receiving an enthused reception, the military hierarchy ultimately rejected the rocket system in favor of large and more dependable field artillery. This original introduction of their research work, an endeavor with visionary objectives, was a contact with peacetime military leaders; a contact which later proved disastrous when the totalitarian Nazi rule had rooted itself in the nation. Those same military figures who now feared the ravings of Adolph Hitler, sought to fulfill his demands for “vengeance weapons”. Recalling every strange and curious system developed in the previous decade by arduous experimenters, these officers began reaching into the civilian population to find those weapons. In 1929, the German Army became more than interested in the rocket developments of the Rocket Club, but considered having the more serious work more fully developed through established Industrial groups. This consideration soon lost its appeal, when the high security risk of such an Industrial undertaking was realized.
Nazi forces recruited members of the Rocket Club, conscripting their service toward those vengeful objectives. In this single sweep of the rich German community of experimenters, the world was acquainted with yet a new source of fear and woes. In 1931 their Office of Weapons Development organized a private research group, largely taken from members of the little Club whose merits were well approved. Friedrich Schmiedl, an Austrian, conducted commercial rocket mail shots between 1931 and March 1933, when his work was unexpectedly destroyed. By 1935, the American Dr. Goddard regularly launched rockets which attained altitudes of 7500 feet In the very same year, Russian rockets reached an unparalleled 6 miles, a truly amazing technical demonstration. Each of these developments were viewed by the Nazi regime as dangerous foreign military potentials requiring ready answer.
Then Captain Waller R. Dornberger (later General), Wernher von Braun and Heinrich Grunow formed the core of this rocket research team. Somewhere in all the threats, the screaming, the pressures, the fear, these visionaries were coerced into perverting their work for the now “inevitable” war. By 1939, the Peenemunde Research Institute was designing, building, and launching tactical weapons. Rockets, originally known by the engineers as the A-4 and the A-5, later became weapons of mass destruction. How easy it was to press the launch trigger and forget the fate of those whose lives lingered under the Damocles Sword of the V-2. The early V-2 designs dwarfed all the previous records set by rocket research teams around the Northern World. Each successful V-2 launch reached as much as 118 miles (1942). Having devastating consequences for their English neighbors, ramjet powered V-l cruise missiles, and V-2 ballistic missiles, brought down a rain of death.
For those living in London and Antwerp, a demonstration of rocket power in military hands removed all of the vision, all of the wonder, and all of the beauty which once flooded the dreams of space travel. Misunderstood from their very start, the visionary presentation of space travel did not require the excessive engineering applications which subsequently developed. Archetypal and potent, the dream of other worlds and their parallel developing civilizations reaches further back into the forgotten past, where archane science understood the true nature of metadimensional worlds (Michel, Bergier). Now the only floods were floods of flame, of dust, of ruin, and of tears. A man and a close friend went out one clear English night by chance, and endured an unexpected rain of vengeance weapons by hiding in the London subways. “What of London, Father?”, one of them asked a priest who had stood watch in the dark tunnels all night long. “Oh my son, London…London is no more”. Upon returning, they found a crater where once their boarding house and its dear tenants enjoyed the sunlight.
Technology is the greatest invader of nations. It is insidious in its approach and conquest, emerging from social sectors usually not considered by those in power. From its unknown haunts in countless cellars or garret laboratories, technology changes the whole world structure; a relentless campaign which assails, re-configures, and redefines the flow of world power. Technology is the conqueror. Furthermore, the movements of Technology cannot be traced, plotted, predicted, or diminished by any ruler regardless of totalitarian completeness. Technology is especially unpredictable when it derives from biody-namic foundations. But there are Technologies whose nature is not derived from the deeper, more biodynamic energy reservoirs of Nature. Certain such technological “applications” represent superficial, more inert aspects of Nature. They can therefore be twisted into a mere exercise of force. Depending entirely on the hand of those who wield them, such “technological applications” provides brute force and exhibitions of power in a negative slant. Unfortunately, movements in the biodynamic directions of thought and technology would not rule the exploration of space, or determine the direction of space technology. The military potentials of space were immediately recognize by those who had recalled the medium range ballistic V-2 devastations of London. In the race toward achieving more military objectives, military bureaucracies were given authority to pursue these research endeavors. The ideal dream of exploring space was suddenly being forcefully changed into a scheme of “capturing space.
- CHAPTER 7