Wernher von Braun
Historical Figure
Nationality: Germany (born in Prussia), later United States
Date of Birth: 1912
Date of Death: 1977
Cause of Death: Pancreatic cancer
Religion: Originally Lutheran, converted to Evangelicalism
Occupation: Nobleman, Engineer, Physicist, Inventor, Author of Non-Fiction
Parents: Magnus von Braun, Emmy von Quistorp
Spouse: Maria Luise von Quistorp
Children: Iris, Margrit, Peter
Military Branch: SS (World War II)
Political Party: NSDAP
Fictional Appearances:
The Man With the Iron Heart
POD: May 29, 1942;
Relevant POD: May, 1945
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Story only
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference

Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German, later American, aerospace engineer, and space architect. He was the leading figure in the development of rockets technology in Germany and the father of rocket technology and space science in the United States.

In his 20s and early 30s, Braun worked in Nazi Germany's rocket development program. He helped design and develop the V-2 rocket at Peenemünde during World War II. Following the war, Braun was secretly moved to the United States, along with about 1,600 other German scientists, engineers, and technicians, as part of Operation Paperclip. He worked for the United States Army on an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) program and he developed the rockets that launched the United States' first space satellite Explorer 1. His group was assimilated into NASA, where he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center and as the chief architect of the Saturn V super heavy-lift launch vehicle that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon. In 1975, von Braun received the National Medal of Science. He advocated for a human mission to Mars.

Wernher von Braun in The Man With the Iron Heart[]

Wernher von Braun surrendered to the Americans and was taken overseas before the German Freedom Front became a serious threat in Germany. Despite the loss of this prize, Reinhard Heydrich was confident that enough capable rocket experts remained in Germany to arm the resurgent Reich he intended to build.[1]

Wernher von Braun in Joe Steele[]

Literary comment[]

In the short story, Wernher von Braun's whereabouts, as the post-WWII arms race between Joe Steele and Leon Trotsky heats up, are a matter of public conjecture, with some people believing that he will end up in China and be recruited by either Mao Tse-Tung or Chiang Kai-Shek. In the novel, Braun is not mentioned.