A quotation by Wernher von Braun, a NASA scientist who had worked for the Nazis during World War II, was removed from a Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Huntsville, Alabama, months after the Forward reported that it was displayed there.
The quote — “The rocket will free man from his remaining chains, the chains of gravity which still tie him to this planet. It will open to him the gates of heaven” — had been prominently displayed on a large panel overlooking a hall in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center museum.
The Forward mentioned the panel in a January, 2022, article that is part of a two-year investigative project documenting more than 1,500 statues, streets and other memorials to people who collaborated with the Nazis. The same article noted that the museum had removed a bust of von Braun several days after a Forward reporter inquired about it.
Von Braun, widely seen as the “father of space travel,” was among a group of Nazi scientists brought to the U.S. in a secret federal program after the war. He had previously designed Germany’s deadly V-2 missile, which was used to shell Allied cities. It was constructed by concentration camp inmates, an estimated 10,000 of whom were killed in the process.
A spokesperson for the Huntsville museum could not say exactly when the quotation had been removed.
There are still numerous honorifics to von Braun in Huntsville, as well as at the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army base and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
If you know of any monuments to Nazi collaborators not listed in our project, or of statues that have been removed or streets renamed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “Nazi monument project.”
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