Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Operation Paperclip and The V-2 Rocket: The Spoils of War

I was never aware before of Operation Paperclip, the US operation to collect Nazi scientists for own use. I was never a good student of history, but I just can't believe I never heard of this, or I hadn't retained it if I had. This is from the V-2 article:

The V-2 rocket (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2) was the first ballistic missile and first man-made object to achieve sub-orbital spaceflight,[3] the progenitor of all modern rockets and a direct precursor of the Saturn V moon rocket. Over 3,000 V-2s were launched as military rockets by the German Wehrmacht against Allied targets in World War II. As many as 20,000 slave labourers died constructing V-2s compared to the 7,000 military personnel and civilians that died from the V-2's use in combat.[4]

It makes little sense to put Hitler in a class of his own when we have benefited so much by what he started. Just the sound of the last sentence is bloodcurdling, consciously or not, there's a disturbing chord in the tone of the writing: Well, despite the deaths of so many "slave labourers" there was a "gain" of 7,000 enemies killed. Yes the enemy in this case was the Allied Forces; but nonetheless the V-2 showed great promise as a killing device.

I know I'm reading too much into a wikipedia article. And I know that the technological advances of Germans were mutually sought out by the Soviets because we had to keep pace with one another. There's something about the idea of reaping benefits from the most vicious of legacies ever that is so...despairing. But maybe I've watched too much Star Trek; maybe it's my naïveté. It would be better if I looked at the continuum of human history as one giant war. There has never been peace, and there may never be peace. As I write these words people are dying, have been dying, will be. Satellites are been shot up and out of space. The US corporate-military structure is building up its arsenal for the next wars with the world. It will never stop in my lifetime.

No comments: