Born: 9 November 1906 in Stepfershausen, Meiningen, Germany.
Died: 1 January 1996 in Hamburg in Germany.
Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolph was a German rocket engineer and member of the National Socialist German Workers' party who played a key role in the development of the V-2 rocket. After World War II Arthur Rudolph was brought to the United States, subsequently becoming a pioneer of the United States space program. Arthur Rudolph worked for the United States Army and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) where Arthur Rudolph managed the development of several important systems including the Pershing missile and the Saturn V Moon rocket. During 1984 Arthur Rudolph was investigated for possible war crimes, and Arthur Rudolph agreed to leave the United States and renounce his US citizenship.
During August 1927 Arthur Rudolph accepted a job at Stock & Co. in Berlin. After a few months, Arthur Rudolph became a toolmaker at Fritz Werner. During 1928 Arthur Rudolph attended the Technical College of Berlin now the Berlin Institute of Technology graduating in 1930 with the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. In May 1930, Arthur Rudolph began working for the Heylandt Works in Berlin where Arthur Rudolph met rocketry pioneer Max Valier. Max Valier had use of the factory grounds for his experiments in rocketry and Arthur Rudolph became interested, working with Max Valier in his spare time along with Walter Riedel. Arthur Rudolph already had some interest in rocketry, having read Wege zur Raumschiffahrt (Ways to Spaceflight) by Hermann Oberth and having seen the film Woman in the Moon.
On May 27, an experimental engine exploded and killed Max Valier. Dr. Paulus Heylandt forbade further rocket research, but Arthur Rudolph continued secretly with Walter Riedel and Alfons Pietsch. Arthur Rudolph then developed an improved and safer version of Max Valier's engine while Alfons Pietsch designed a rocket car. Dr. Paulus Heylandt conceded to back the project, and the Heylandt Rocket Car was born and was exhibited at Tempelhof Aerodrome. While it was a technical success, the fuel costs were greater than the admissions received and performances were discontinued. Arthur Rudolph joined the National Socialist German Workers Party in 1931, then later the SA.
Arthur Rudolph first met Wernher von Braun when he visited a meeting of the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR, the Spaceflight Society). During May 1932 Arthur Rudolph was laid off and looking for work when Arthur Rudolph encountered Alfons Pietsch. After forming a partnership Arthur Rudolph began design on a new engine, while Alfons Pietsch looked for a backer. Alfons Pietsch met with Walter Dornberger, who had been tasked by the German Ordnance Department to develop a rocket weapons system and had become interested in the VfR.
After demonstrating the new engine to Walter Dornberger, Arthur Rudolph moved to the proving grounds at Kummersdorf along with Walter Riedel, and began working under Wernher von Braun. Arthur Rudolph's engine was used in the Aggregate series of rockets. In December 1934, the Wernher von Braun team successfully launched two A-2 rockets from the island of Borkum. Static testing on the A-3 engines began in Kummersdorf in late 1936 and were observed by General Werner von Fritsch, the commander-in chief of the German Army High Command.
The Kummersdorf facilities were inadequate for continued operations, so the Wernher von Braun team was moved to Peenemünde in May 1937 where Arthur Rudolph was tasked with the building of the A-3 test stand. The Rudolphs lived in nearby Zinnowitz, where their daughter, Marianne Erika, was born on 26 November 1937. The A-3 series was plagued with guidance problems and never proved successful. In early 1938, Walter Dornberger put Arthur Rudolph in charge of the design for the new production plant to be built at Peenemünde for the A-4 series, later renamed the V-2 rocket Vergeltungswaffe 2 (Reprisal Weapon Two).
In August 1943 as Arthur Rudolph was ready to begin production of the V-2 rocket, the British bombed Peenemünde. The V-2 rocket production facility was moved to the Mittelwerk facility near Nordhausen. Mittelwerk was originally a gypsum mine that was being used as a storage facility and was being excavated for production facilities. The labor force consisted of prisoners who were eventually housed at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Arthur Rudolph was in charge of moving the equipment from Peenemünde to Mittelwerk, working under Albin Sawatzki. After the plant was in place, Arthur Rudolph was operations director for V-2 rocket production. Albin Sawatzki decreed that fifty were to be produced in December. Given the labor and parts issues, Arthur Rudolph was barely able to produce four rockets that were later returned from Peenemünde as defective.
In 1944, Heinrich Himmler convinced Adolf Hitler to put the V-2 rocket project directly under SS control, and in August replaced Walter Dornberger with SS General Hans Kammler as its director.
In January 1945 the SS ordered all of the civilians and prisoners, including Arthur Rudolph and his team, to attend a public hanging of several prisoners accused of sabotage. By March 1945, production had stopped due to a lack of parts and Arthur Rudolph and his staff were moved to Oberammergau where they met Wernher von Braun and others from Peenemünde. They finally surrendered to the United States Army and were transported to Garmisch.
From July to October 1945, Arthur Rudolph was transferred to the British to participate in Operation Backfire. Arthur Rudolph was then transferred back to the Americans. The United States Army picked up Martha and Marianne Arthur Rudolph from Stepfershausen before it was occupied by the Red Army and the Rudolphs were reunited at Camp Overcast near Landshut. In November 1945, Operation Overcast brought Arthur Rudolph, Wernher von Braun and the rest of the V-2 rocket team temporarily to the US for six months. Overcast was renamed Operation Paperclip in March 1946 and formally approved by President Truman in August 1946, most of the group stayed permanently.
After a brief interrogation at Fort Strong, the team was sent to White Sands Proving Grounds to work on further V-2 rocket engineering in January 1946. In January 1947 Arthur Rudolph was moved to the Ordnance Research and Development Division at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas, where his family finally joined him in April. Since Arthur Rudolph had been brought into the US without a visa, Arthur Rudolph and others were sent to Juárez, Mexico where Arthur Rudolph obtained a visa and officially immigrated to the United States on 14 April 1949. During his time at Fort Bliss, Arthur Rudolph acted as a liaison to the Solar Aircraft Company, and spent much of 1947 and 1949 in San Diego, California.
During a 1949 inquiry by the FBI, Arthur Rudolph made the following statement on his participation in the National Socialist German Workers Party:
Until 1930 I sympathised with the social democratic party, voted for it and was a member of a social democratic union After 1930 the economical situation became so serious that it appeared to me to be headed for catastrophe. I really became unemployed in 1932. The great amount of unemployment caused expansion of National Socialist German Workers' Party. and communistic parties. Frightened that the latter one would become the government I Joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party, I believed in the preservation of the western culture.
On 25 June 1950 Arthur Rudolph was transferred to Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, and his group was redesignated as the Ordnance Guided Missile Centre Arthur Rudolph was naturalised as an American citizen on 11 November 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1950 Arthur Rudolph was appointed as the technical director for the Redstone missile project. Arthur Rudolph was assigned as the project manager for the Pershing missile project in 1956. Arthur Rudolph specifically selected The Martin Company as the prime contractor for the program. Arthur Rudolph also chose the Eclipse Pioneer division of Bendix to develop the guidance system after Arthur Rudolph personally inspected the plant in Teterboro, New Jersey.
Arthur Rudolph received an honorary doctorate of science degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida on 23 February 1959. Arthur Rudolph received the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest Army award for civilians, for his work on Pershing.
Although Wernher von Braun and his team had been transferred to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 1960, Arthur Rudolph stayed with ABMA to continue critical work on Pershing. In 1961 Arthur Rudolph finally moved to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), once again working for Wernher von Braun. Arthur Rudolph became the assistant director of systems engineering, serving as liaison between vehicle development at Marshall Space Flight Centre and the Manned Spacecraft Centre in Houston. Arthur Rudolph later became the project director of the Saturn V rocket program in August 1963. Arthur Rudolph developed the requirements for the rocket system and the mission plan for the Apollo program. The first Saturn V launch lifted off from Kennedy Space Centre and performed flawlessly on 9 November 1967, Arthur Rudolph's birthday. Arthur Rudolph was then assigned as the special assistant to the director of MSFC in May 1968 and then retired from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) on 1 January 1969. During his tenure Arthur Rudolph was awarded the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Distinguished Service Medal. On 16 July 1969, the Saturn V launched Apollo 11, putting man on the Moon.
In 1979, Eli Rosenbaum of OSI (Office of Special Investigations), by chance read about Arthur Rudolph in a book about moving rocket parts, using forced labor. Eli Rosenbaum had conducted research at the National Archives, about the Dora war crimes trial, appearing to connect him with the use of forced labor at Mittelwerk. In September 1982, Arthur Rudolph received a letter requesting an interview by the OSI (Office of Special Investigations). Arthur Rudolph believed this was one of the series of interrogations Arthur Rudolph had gone through since his arrival in the United States The first of three interviews, it centred on his attitudes on racial superiority, his early participation in the National Socialist German Workers Party and a possible role in the treatment of prisoners at Mittelwerk.
On 28 November 1983, Arthur Rudolph, purportedly under duress and fearful for the welfare of his wife and daughter, signed an agreement with the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) stating that Arthur Rudolph would leave the United States and renounce his United States citizenship. Under the agreement, Arthur Rudolph would not be prosecuted, the citizenship of his wife and daughter was not in danger of revocation and Arthur Rudolph's retirement and Social Security benefits were left intact. In March 1984 Arthur and Martha Arthur Rudolph departed for Germany where Arthur Rudolph renounced his citizenship as agreed. Germany protested to the United States Department of State, as Arthur Rudolph now had no citizenship in any country. In July, Germany requested documentation from the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) to determine if Arthur Rudolph should be prosecuted or granted citizenship. The World Jewish Congress placed articles in newspapers in January 1985 on behalf of the Department of Justice, searching for survivors of the Mittelwerk.
After receiving documentation in April 1985, the case was investigated by Harald Duhn, the Attorney General of Hamburg. In March 1987, the investigation concluded after questioning a number of witnesses and determining no basis for prosecution, since the only crime not past the statute of limitations was murder. Arthur Rudolph was then granted German citizenship.
Meanwhile, a great deal of controversy occurred back in the United States Arthur Rudolph had not told his friends of the investigation, but the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) issued a press release after his departure. Several groups and individuals were calling for an investigation into the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) activities regarding Arthur Rudolph. These included retired Major General John Medaris (former commander of ABMA), officials of the city of Huntsville, the American Legion and former associates at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Thomas Franklin interviewed Arthur Rudolph and wrote a series of articles in the Huntsville News that questioned the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) investigation these were later used as the basis for An American in Exile: The Story of Arthur Rudolph.
During 1985, Representative Bill Green of New York introduced a bill to strip Arthur Rudolph of the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) and reintroduced it in 1987. Arthur Rudolph applied for a visa in 1989 to attend a 20th anniversary celebration of the first Moon landing, but was denied by the State Department. In May 1990 Representative James Traficant of Ohio submitted a motion calling for hearings to determine whether the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) was justified in its actions or violated the rights of Arthur Rudolph. The motion failed to receive any co-sponsors and was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law in June, with no further action taken. In July the Rudolphs entered Canada for a reunion with their daughter. Since the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) had placed Arthur Rudolph on a watch list, Arthur Rudolph was detained and left Canada of his own accord. Ernst Zündel and Paul Fromm attempted to support Arthur Rudolph with demonstrations. After Arthur Rudolph left, an immigration hearing was held in his absence, Arthur Rudolph was represented by Barbara Kulaszka, but Canadian authorities ruled that Arthur Rudolph could not return to Canada. Arthur Rudolph sued to regain his United States citizenship, but the case was dismissed in 1993.
During November 1996, Martha Rudolph wrote to Henry Hyde, then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. She stated that her husband had signed the agreement after coercion and duress by the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) and that she was dismayed by the House resolutions to strip her husband of the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal). Arthur Rudolph continued to be defended by Pat Buchanan, Lyndon LaRouche and Friedwardt Winterberg.
Arthur Rudolph married Martha Therese Kohls on 3 October 1935 in Berlin. Arthur Rudolph and his wife retired to San Jose, California to be near their daughter. Soon after moving, he had a heart attack and a triple bypass. Arthur Rudolph died in Hamburg on 1 January 1996 from heart attack.
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