Chapter 18: The Spoils of Victory
Over this period, the T-Force teams, the British and American intelligence agencies intersected as they scrambled to recover as much technology and as many German specialists as possible, before the Nordhausen area, including the Mittelwerks, is turned over to the Russians.
Meanwhile, Wernher and the rocket team were pressed for information and details, which they avoided providing. It is clear from reading von Braun's interrogation notes that he had already decided to rewrite his historical record, and that he believed he could tell whatever tale he fancied. If you read take the time to read the handwritten and typed notes on his interrogations you will see what I mean. According to Wernher, he was fleeing Peenemunde when his car crashed. There is no mention of an established Bleicherode office, nothing about the Mittelwerks, and nothing about the CCDC-Mittelbau. Lt. Jessel clearly had reservations about von Braun, but his opinions were ignored.
Defenders of von Braun often say that he was only following orders, but that doesn't stand scrutiny. It was Wernher who suggested the use of prisoner labor to expedite the manufacturing process, and he was not ordered to take that step. Not being able to come up with a better solution to the problem is a poor excuse. Wernher picked skilled laborers at Buchenwald, knowing the fate that awaited them should they fail to meet his QC standards. That and his SS rank would have ensured his indictment as a war criminal if the Army hadn't sheltered him. It has been said that he was no worse than Speer, but Speer acknowledged his involvement and guilt, and served a 20-year prison sentence. Wernher did neither.
V-2 components loaded on flatcars for shipment to the US
US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of James Baker