16
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-16-2008: From Peenemeunde

November 16, 1945

German scientists brought to United States to work on rocket technology

In a move that stirs up some controversy, the United States ships 88 German scientists to America to assist the nation in its production of rocket technology. Most of these men had served under the Nazi regime and critics in the United States questioned the morality of placing them in the service of America. Nevertheless, the U.S. government, desperate to acquire the scientific know-how that had produced the terrifying and destructive V-1 and V-2 rockets for Germany during WWII, and fearful that the Russians were also utilizing captured German scientists for the same end, welcomed the men with open arms.

Realizing that the importation of scientists who had so recently worked for the Nazi regime so hated by Americans was a delicate public relations situation, the U.S. military cloaked the operation in secrecy. In announcing the plan, a military spokesman merely indicated that some German scientists who had worked on rocket development had “volunteered” to come to the United States and work for a “very moderate salary.” The voluntary nature of the scheme was somewhat undercut by the admission that the scientists were in “protective custody.” Upon their arrival in the United States on November 16, newsmen and photographers were not allowed to interview or photograph the newcomers. A few days later, a source in Sweden claimed that the scientists were members of the Nazi team at Peenemeunde where the V-weapons had been produced. The U.S. government continued to remain somewhat vague about the situation, stating only that “certain outstanding German scientists and technicians” were being imported in order to “take full advantage of these significant developments, which are deemed vital to our national security.”

The situation pointed out one of the many ironies connected with the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union, once allies against Germany and the Nazi regime during World War II, were now in a fierce contest to acquire the best and brightest scientists who had helped arm the German forces in order to construct weapons systems to threaten each other.

“German scientists brought to United States to work on rocket technology.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2486.

V-1

A copy of a German V-1 Rocket, which can be found at the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

On This Day

1776 – British troops captured Fort Washington during the American Revolution.

1864 – Union Gen. William T. Sherman and his troops began their “March to the Sea” during the U.S. Civil War.

1907 – Oklahoma was admitted as the 46th state.

1933 – The United States and the Soviet Union established diplomatic relations for the first time.

1952 – In the Peanuts comic strip, Lucy first held a football for Charlie Brown.

1969 – The U.S. Army announced that several had been charged with massacre and the subsequent cover-up in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam on March 16, 1968.

1973 – Skylab 3 carrying a crew of three astronauts, was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, on an 84-day mission.

1973 – U.S. President Nixon signed the Alaska Pipeline measure into law.

1998 – In Burlington, Wisconsin, five high school students, aged 15 to 16, were arrested in an alleged plot to kill a carefully selected group of teachers and students.

1998 – The U.S. Supreme Court said that union members could file discrimination lawsuits against employers even when labor contracts require arbitration.

2004 – A NASA unmanned “scramjet” (X-43A) reached a speed of nearly 10 times the speed of sound above the Pacific Ocean.

November 16, 1961

Kennedy decides to increase military aid to Saigon

President John F. Kennedy decides to increase military aid to South Vietnam without committing U.S. combat troops.

Kennedy was concerned at the advances being made by the communist Viet Cong, but did not want to become involved in a land war in Vietnam. He hoped that the military aid would be sufficient to strengthen the Saigon government and its armed forces against the Viet Cong. Ultimately it was not, and Kennedy ended up sending additional support in the form of U.S. military advisors and American helicopter units. By the time of his assassination in 1963, there were 16,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam.

“Kennedy decides to increase military aid to Saigon.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1489.

November 16, 1970

Ky defends South Vietnamese operations in Cambodia

South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky, speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, says Cambodia would be overrun by communist forces “within 24 hours” if South Vietnamese troops currently operating there are withdrawn.

Ky described the Cambodian operation of the previous spring (the so-called “Cambodian Incursion,” in which President Nixon had sent U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese base camps) as the “turning point” of the war. He said that as a result of that operation, the enemy had been forced to revert to low-level guerrilla warfare. Ky also reported that his government was concerned that the Nixon administration might be yielding to the “pressure of the antiwar groups” and pulling out the remaining U.S. troops too quickly.

“Ky defends South Vietnamese operations in Cambodia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:45 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1488.

On This Day in Wisconsin

November 16, 1957

Ed Gein kills final victim Bernice Worden

Infamous killer Edward Gein murders his last victim, Bernice Worden of Plainfield, Wisconsin. His grave robbing, necrophilia, and cannibalism gained national attention, and may have provided  inspiration for the characters of Norman Bates in Psycho and serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.

Gein was a quiet farmer who lived in rural Wisconsin with an extremely domineering mother. After she died in 1945, he began studying anatomy, and started stealing women’s corpses from local cemeteries. In 1954, Gein shot and killed saloonkeeper Mary Hogan, piled the body onto a sled, and dragged it home.

On November 16, Gein robbed Worden at the local hardware store she owned and killed her. Her son, a deputy, discovered his mother’s body and became suspicious of Gein, who was believed to be somewhat odd. When authorities searched Gein’s farmhouse, they found an unimaginably grisly scene: organs were in the refrigerator, a heart sat on the stove, and heads had been made into soup bowls. Apparently, Gein had kept various organs from his grave digging and murders as keepsakes and for decoration. He had also used human skin to upholster chairs.

Though it is believed that he killed others during this time, Gein only admitted to the murders of Worden and Hogan. In 1958, Gein was declared insane and sent to the Wisconsin State Hospital in Mendota*, where he remained until his death in 1984.

“Ed Gein kills final victim Bernice Worden.” 2008. The History Channel website. 16 Nov 2008, 11:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1190.

*This is somewhat inaccurate.  Gein was initially incarcerated at Central State Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin until it was converted into a prison and then Gein was transferred to Mendota.  http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Ed_Gein

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