Where Would We Be Without Hitler's Scientists?
Where Would We Be Without Hitler's Scientists?
Occasionally, one of these so-called "Nazis," or one of their willing--or, perhaps, unwitting--compatriots, circling around the civilized settlements, spouts some silly nonsense propagating the myth of a supposed innate Nazi technological superiority, as demonstrated by Tiger Tanks, V-2 rockets, etc. "Where would we be without the advances pioneered by Hitler's scientists?," they ask. See: Wunderwaffen
Now, I am not suggesting that Nazi rocket technology had no effect on either post-war international politics or the evolution of technology. It was, in fact, the second most important technological battleground of the Cold War, second only to that of nuclear technology. The two would eventually merge to become the potential life-on-earth ending MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) that is, in actuality, still with us (though no one talks about it much anymore). Rocket technology was a big deal, but nuclear technology was decisive, in the event; a war-ending weapon, that one. The Germans were not even close.
What the mutual-but-separate capture of Nazi rocket science did, in effect, was to establish a shared base line between the East and the West; a common point of departure. Each power started with basically the same technology, captured from defeated Germany. And each super-power developed and advanced that technology in roughly similar time frames; the first US jet fighter and the first MIG were very much the same aircraft. The Soviets would be ahead for awhile (Sputnik, etc.), the US would catch up (Independently Targeted LRICBM's, for example) and surpass for a bit, but their advances were chronologically pretty close, for the most part.
Before WW2, Allied scientists were certainly simultaneously working to develop an expertise in rocketry. The Soviets had an early success in deploying an early rocket-based weapons system on the battlefield; the Stalin Organs. And it's not as though the Nazis were the only ones to go with the idea of a ballistic missile; Goddard and others were advancing, but not at such a rate or with the short-term success that the brilliant (and well-funded) Germans were achieving (while stealing all of Goddard's copyrights in the process).
Had the Germans never built a single rocket or jet-engine, the technology would have emerged eventually regardless. The time-line would be different, of course. What drove the birth of the space-faring technology our age will ultimately be remembered for (though perhaps those few left to remember will have another perspective, depending on how it goes) was not so much that the Germans were ahead in that area in the early days, but due to the fact that the competition of the Cold War drove the super-powers to compete and excel.
In the immediate post-war world, nuclear technology was an American/UK monopoly for about 4-plus years (now there's a WMD that should, in a perfect world, never have been). Then the Russkies caught up and you know the rest. One can estimate from this representative example that, had one side or the other gained exclusive capture of Nazi rocket technology, the other side would have been urgently compelled to achieve the same level as quickly as possible, through any means necessary. Again, only the time-frame would be effected, not the ultimate development of the technology itself. So we land on the moon in 1975-or-so instead of cynically utilizing the tainted skills of men implicated in Crimes against Humanity to get there in 1969; so what? We still make a few footprints and invent Teflon and the like along the way. Just a matter of time, really.
The utilization of war criminals such as von Braun, etc., to score points and gain prestige during the Cold War is merely one of a long and painful string of unfortunate acts perpetrated by my own government: unlawful acts of cynicism to which I take strong exception. Von Braun should have been convicted, not treated like a celebrity.
The products actually produced by Hitler's scientists were militarily insignificant in relation to the immediate need of the German forces desperately engaged in a fight for their Voelkish goals. None of Hitler's wonder weapons, in the face of their aesthetic superiority--and despite their possible potential--proved at all useful to the average soldier or sailor. Hitler, the World War 1 "common soldier," in the end tragically let down his own soldiers in a way that history will never forget, and thinking, feeling Germans should never forgive.
The V-1 and V-2 were morally indefensible and militarily insignificant. The only effect they ever had on an actual battle was that the Allied command temporarily shifted focus, to an extent, toward taking the weapons' cross-Channel launch areas from the Germans shortly after D-Day. The steel and other strategic materials misused in constructing Hitler's vengeance weapons would have been of far greater use as U-boats (another of the few areas where the Nazis were more advanced) or armor or night fighters (ask the survivors of Berlin or Dresden which they'd have preferred) or long-range bombers, etc. The V-weapons were ultimately just another of Hitler's spectacular blunders, despite the technological pride inherent in advanced--but impractical--weapons systems.
The weapons delivered by Nazi scientists, almost without exception, were far less useful militarily than those advances the Allies created; advances which actually impacted positively the war effort of Hitler's opponents. Allied superiority in signet (ULTRA, MAGIC), electronic warfare (SONAR, RADAR, etc.), even something as simple and decisive as Mulberry harbors, were much more useful in the field than systems of marginal practical use such as Tiger tanks, vengeance weapons, and other cutting-edge wastes of time. The Soviet T-34 tank, while not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the developing Nazi armor, nevertheless won the battles.
The same could be said for the American JEEP. When the first advance units of the Americans and Soviets met on conquered German ground and popped open a bottle of bubbly by the Elbe, the Red Army representatives offered three toasts to the Americans: 1--to Josef Stalin, 2--to US President Roosevelt, 3--to the American JEEP. The Soviet soldiers loved them. No other forces anywhere had such a sturdy and reliable machine filling that crucial niche. The German version was, after all, a re-engineered Volkswagen bug, and its performance was pitiful in comparison.
Many on the extreme right often claim that Nazi technology was superior to that of the rest of the world. They imagine that it was more advanced and "visionary," and that that fact confirms some aspect or another of this whole racialist Aryan garbage they go on about. Without Nazi technology, they demand, where would the world be? Well, the world would have been nowhere near as capable of engineering impregnable bunkers or easily concealed cyanide capsules: that is plain. Fortunately, some creative 'inventions' of the Nazis never made it past the planning stage. The following document transcript excerpt illustrates this point well:
March 13, 1946: From the Interrogation of the Chief Engineer of the Berlin Firm Topf and Sohne, Fritz Sander:
I decided to design and build a crematorium with a higher capacity. I completed this project for a new crematorium in November 1942--a crematorium for mass incineration--and I submitted this project to a State Patent Commission in Berlin. This crematorium was to be built on the conveyor belt principle, that is to say, the corpses would be brought to the incineration furnaces continuously. When the corpses were pushed into the furnaces, they would fall into a grate, then slide into the furnace to be incinerated. The corpses would serve at the same time as fuel for heating the furnaces. This patent could not then be approved by the Main Patent Office in Berlin because of its secrecy classification. The project file is registered in the Patent Office but the invention could not be patented in wartime.
"Advances" such as these should only be found in comic books and macabre fiction, not a patent office, where such blueprints were, indeed, subsequently located.
Conclusion: Where would we REALLY be without Nazi technology and innovation? We'd be better off, clearly.
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Walther Johann von Löpp
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FB: Horrific 20th Century History
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