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Sioux Falls Free Thinkers endorse Dark Side of the Moon for showing
us that Wernher von Braun, leader of our space program, was a NAZI.
He cared nothing about the people his rockets caused to die whether
blowing them up in England, or on his factory floor in NAZI Germany.

Dark Side of the Moon
Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich, and the Space Race

Dark Side of the Moon by Wayne Biddle (2009) - 240 pages
Dark Side of the Moon at Amazon.com

In this stunning investigation into the dawn of the Space Age, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wayne Biddle reaches back to the reactionary modernism of the Third Reich, using the life of the famed rocket scientist Wernher von Braun as a narrative path through the crumbling of Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazi regime. In a departure from previous works on von Braun, Biddle strips away the hagiographic accounts of his life to present the darker truth behind the charismatic figurehead of futuristic technology.

Arguing against the popular notion that von Braun was saved from Nazi clutches by the American space program, Dark Side of the Moon deftly weaves together the historical evidence to demonstrate that he in fact willingly used slave labor from the Dora concentration camp adjacent to his rocket factory and reported unquestioningly to the ruthless Heinrich Himmler. Far from the aloof wunderkind scientist of modern mythology, von Braun turns out to be an SS man through and through, whose Nazi past was glossed over - and even actively concealed - by the Truman administration and for decades after.

Biddle's nuanced and richly evocative portrait of von Braun restores him to his place in history not as a celebrated, visionary scientist but instead as the blinkered opportunist he really was, one who could only apply tunnel vision to his meteoric career and who stood as an archetype of the twentieth-century technologist who thrives under regimes of military secrecy and unlimited funding. His seamless transformation from developer of the deadly V-2 ballistic missile for Hitler to an American celebrity as the supposed genius behind the golden years of the U.S. space program in the 1950s and 1960s raises haunting questions about the culture of the cold war, the shared values of technology in totalitarian and democratic societies, and the broader imperatives of material progress.

Wayne Biddle won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the "Star Wars" antimissile project. He has written four nonfiction books and is a member of the Writing Seminars faculty at the Johns Hopkins University. He lives near Baltimore.

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Dark Side of the Moon
Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich, and the Space Race

Sioux Falls Free Thinkers endorse Dark Side of the Moon for showing
us that Wernher von Braun, leader of our space program, was a NAZI.
He cared nothing about the people his rockets caused to die whether
blowing them up in England, or on his factory floor in NAZI Germany.