Thursday, November 29, 2018

Roswell and Wernher von Braun

It struck me that since I have published a couple of articles that either attempted to explain the Roswell debris or explain the whole of the crash scenario, it was only fair to look at it from the other side. Just yesterday, as I was provided many references to James Carrion’s book, I also received, from Tony Bragalia, a link to an article he had written about Wernher von Braun and his connection to the Roswell case. You can read it here:

I will note, apropos of nothing, but which might be of interest, Frank Kaufmann had told me a couple of decades ago that he, Kaufmann, had discussed the Roswell crash with von Braun. That wasn’t quite as far fetched as it seemed. A couple of
Wernher von Braun
decades earlier than my interview with Kaufmann, there had been a dedication of the museum in Roswell. One of the features was a replication of Robert Goddard’s lab. Goddard is considered the father of American rocketry, and von Braun had praised him for his innovations. Von Braun said that his work had been built on the foundation laid by Goodard.

Karl Pflock challenged this claim (about Kaufmann talking with von Braun and not von Braun’s praise of Goodard), but I was actually able, through documentation, to place von Braun and Kaufmann in the same room at the same time. Kaufmann was the chairman of the Roswell Chamber of Commerce during the dedication, and he had something called a Congressional Record that established that. This simply means that this document had mentioned Kaufmann’s position and that he and von Braun had attended the dedication. That put them in the same room at the same time and I wouldn’t be surprised if Kaufmann didn’t speak with von Braun.

Now, before you all write to tell me that Kaufmann has been caught in fudging his tales, I am not suggesting that they talked about the Roswell UFO crash. I’m only saying that Kaufmann met von Braun. I would be surprised, stunned actually, if either of them mentioned the crash. If there was a crash, it would be highly classified, and even if they both realized that the other was in on the secret, I just don’t see them discussing that in a room full of people at the dedication. In fact, I would be surprised if they exchanged much in the way of conversation, given the circumstances.

So, no, I don’t believe that Kaufmann knew anything about the crash stories that he hadn’t picked up over the years by watching television or talking with Walter Haut. In fact, in my first conversation with Kaufmann, he mentioned the 1989 Unsolved Mysteries broadcast that told the tale of Roswell. (And yes, I was on that show and no, I didn’t get to meet Robert Stack.)

Bragalia’s article will tell you that von Braun was brought in as a consultant to study the craft. He mentioned these things to his colleagues over the years. They are the ones who are suggesting that von Braun was involved. You can pick up the details in Bragalia’s article at his website. If you have questions about Bragalia’s article, you can contact him through the website.


cda said...

As the leading Roswell researcher/writer for many years now, perhaps you would like to comment on Bragalia's latest Roswell piece. In particular do you accept or believe that any Operation Paperclip scientists had an involvement in the case? Do you accept that any of them ever visited the site or took any part in analysing the material?

You can guess my own views.

I'll end by asking you if you think that any of this group of ex-Nazi scientists had ever heard of Roswell, or whether Bragalia's thesis is merely a flight of fancy/fantasy? (Notice how Bragalia relies a lot on Don Schmitt & Tom Carey).

KRandle said...

I have suggested to Tony that I’m not a big fan of second-hand information, and much of this piece is made up of what von Braun said to others. Most of it really doesn’t deal with the Roswell crash but are comments by these scientists who believe that this is alien life out there and at some point, we may come into contact with it. Such contact might be disastrous as evidenced by our own history.

The only point where it seems that both parties in the conversation are discussing the same thing is when Edgar Mitchell reported that von Braun had said to him that the crash did happen… but this doesn’t seem to be a direct quote. Mitchell did say, according to Bragalia, “Wernher was apparently there as a first investigator to the incident because of his rocketry knowledge…Wernher was a brilliant thinker and his goal was to explore the universe.”

I will note here, that based on my training and experience as an intelligence officer, I was little more than skeptical of the claim that von Braun was brought into this. Von Braun was, after all, a former member of the Nazi party, and had led the project to develop the “V” weapons. It seemed unlikely, to me, that a secret of this magnitude would be shared with someone with von Braun’s background. I don’t believe he would be brought into something like the recovery of an alien spacecraft no matter how brilliant the man might be.

From that point we delve into quotes that don’t really tell us much of anything about the Roswell crash. Carol Rosin tells us that von Braun “knew about the extraterrestrial issue.” The same might be said for Bill Clinton based on some of the cryptic comments he made… or Ronald Reagan, or Douglas MacArthur. None of those comments said anything other than the knew about the extraterrestrial issue. No specifics as to what that meant.

Hermann Oberth said that he thought the flying saucers were real, but I would say, so what? Jimmy Carter thought he had seen one but the evidence suggests he had seen Venus at its brightest.

Eventually we get down to the children telling us what their fathers had said about what others had said. At this point the chain is too long to be useful. We get into interpretations, false memory, and a host of other problems. That sort of “evidence” isn’t of much use to us.

Finally, as I mentioned, I just have a difficult time believing that German scientists, those with Paperclip, would be brought into this sort of secret. It is too critical, and no matter how loyal those Paperclip scientists might have been, we don’t know what sort of pressures could be brought on them to spill what they knew… from family now behind the Iron Curtain to money problems or just a distaste for the US.

Paul Young said...

Kevin Randle... "It seemed unlikely, to me, that a secret of this magnitude would be shared with someone with von Braun’s background. I don’t believe he would be brought into something like the recovery of an alien spacecraft no matter how brilliant the man might be."

I'm not sure that it would have been that much of a big step to entrust him on an investigation into a UFO recovery when he was already entrusted to be at the cutting edge of the US rocket propulsion programme.

Maybe if he had been a defected Soviet...but the Nazi's were finished!
Why would anyone question his loyalties to a regime that was no longer in existence?

Yes, he was in the Nazi party, but being a German and NOT being a Nazi, in the 1930's, would have been quite detrimental to his career...not to mention his health. That must have been taken into consideration.
(In any case, I'd have thought that exceptional minds, like that of von Braun, are probably much more dedicated to their work than are dedicated to any political cause.)

If the general lore surrounding the Roswell Incident is actually a reality, then I'd expect him to be up there amongst the top "go to" people in trying to understand how the things fly.

KRandle said...

Paul -

I'm not sure that I can disagree here... Your argument is something that I thought of as well, but we are dealing with the military here and von Braun was not part of the military establishment. I think a good case can be made for bringing him in, but then, a good case can be made for leaving him out. And, remember, we don't really have much to go on here.

Unknown said...

To say that Von Braun was not part of the military establishment would not be accurate in my opinion. Prior to NASA’s establishment, the military was primarily behind Rocket development and space exploration. Although it seems odd today, perhaps, the Army and not the Air Force was a leader in rocket development. Certainly Von Braun was an integral part of the military industrial complex. While I see your point, the military had no compulsion against the Paperclip scientists and in fact embraced them. The CIA simply used the former German Intelligence network after the war and you may recall that no one assigned to Unit 731 in Manchuria was ever prosecuted for war crimes. In fact all the data from the horrendous medical experiments were shipped to Ft Dedrick.

If we indeed the Roswell Incident was extraterrestrial in nature, it would seem highly unlikely that Von Braun, America’s leading and best known rocket scientist would have been left out of the loop, then of course there are those who feel that the Third Reich may have had assistance from extraterrestrial sources (I’m not going too far will that, Von Braun and the Horton brothers were pretty smart guys in their respective fields), but nothing, I suppose can be discounted and there is that famous quote attributed to Herman Orberth about “getting outside help” which may or may not be true.

I’ve become a Roswell agnostic and attribute this primarily because of your outstanding scholarship and research on this topic over the years.

KRandle said...

M Louttit -

What I meant that he was not an American military officer. He was a civilian working on rocket research under the direction of the Army Air Forces, later just the Air Force.

My note was to suggest that he had been a Nazi as in a real, live member of the Nazi party just two years earlier. His mission was to develop rockets, first buzz bombs and later V-2s to drop on Great Britain. There would be members of the American military establishment who would not have trusted von Braun, given his history, even if he was as pure as the driven snow. They had been fighting his regime just a couple of years earlier and some of the hostility for those on the Nazi side would not have evaporated, regardless of what he was doing now.

There is also something else working here. While von Braun was a rocket expert. In 1947, some of those thought that the object that fell was possibly an advanced airplane design based on the Horten Brothers research. There were others who would have been more qualified to discuss that such as Northrop who had been working on his own tailless aircraft. Northrop's advantage would be that he had part of the American industrial complex and had several contracts with the military to develop a long-range, tailless bomber (XB-35 and the jet verson XB-49). He would have had the proper security clearances (remember this is speculation).

Anyway, my point was that there were arguments to be made that von Braun might not have been brought in to this. We don't have evidence that he was, only some second-hand testimony.

Unknown said...

I would have to respectfully disagree that there were hard core opponents Von Braun because of his National Socialist affiliations. Like yourself I’m a retired military intelligence officer (warrant officer and fellow grad of the infamous Ft Rucker WOCS :-) ). I think the historical facts demonstrate that the US readily embraced there former adversary. The US readily utilized former Abwehr operatives as the backbone of humint collection activities in Europe once the Iron Curtain began to descend upon Eastern Europe as the USSR expanded its sphere of influence. The US was all too willing to provide phony back stories to the Paperclip scientists including Von Braun who was an SS member. You may recall that Gen Patton wanted to rearm the Wehrmacht and attack the USSR. (Fortunately cooler heads prevailed)

As an MI Officer you understand that we frequently find ourselves in bed with the devil and there is IMO a certain amoral aspect to our craft.

In the end the point is moot, we have no evidence to support the assertion that Von Braun had anything to do with Roswell but I find your assertion somehow that the military industrial complex was motivated by a distrust and moral qualms concerning Von Braun may be just a tad naive. Then again, I’m probably more cynical based on my own experiences YMMV. In any event the horse is dead and there is no reason to keep kicking it. For all we know Mickey Mouse could have been read into the Roswell Event :-)

With warmest regards,

KRandle said...

M Louttit -

I have no problem with the disagreement and I'm not saying that von Braun wasn't important to our move into space. I'm merely saying that it is possible that he was not brought into this for any number of reasons, some of which I mention. Without something a little better than second-hand testimony, we really have no evidence that he was... which, of course, you acknowledge.

And, for all we know, Mickey did make such a claim, but there is no evidence to back him up. You'd be surprised at how many people claim to have been there but who were not.

Daniel Transit said...

Dr Wernher von Braun issued a statement on UFOs, published on page 4 of 'The New Report On Flying Saucers' No.2 (1967). I don't know where else it was published; but, there isn't any indication that he wrote it specifically for this magazine.

He states that the U.S. Air Force has accounted for 98% of UFO sightings - giving 9 examples of explanations:

'..And that unaccounted-for two per cent of UFOs, absolutely fails to raise my blood pressure. To me, 98 per cent is a mighty good batting average!...'

He basically dismisses UFOs as a cause for much interest and as 'objects of extra-terrestrial origin... without positive, credible proof.'


The following appeared in Baltimore Evening Sun, November 16th 1972 (UFONS #44, pg.1):

'Braun Discounts Flying Saucers

Rio De Janeiro (Special)- Wernher von Braun, the rocketry expert, was in Rio giving his views on what is and is not out in space. Of flying saucers, Dr. Von Braun said, "Such things do not exist. I gather the whole business is hallucination." On the other hand, he said "Life is so wonderful. It's utterly unlikely that the one who created life gave it only to this puny planet called earth."


There is quite a bit of literature on Hermann Oberth and UFOs; photographs & documentation of him at German UFO conferences included. A film clip of him making a statement on flying saucers is 23 seconds into this British Movietone posting on YouTube:

Sugarraytaylor said...

Apparently, The Aztec UFO crash is a “tale we hadn’t heard until a few months ago”

My god, of all the times I have heard people perpetuate the UFO crash that never was (Aztec) I can’t remember anyone claiming it’s a new story. Not since Scott Ramsey’s book which was heavily debunked by Kevin Randle among others. The recycling of these tales that should be dead and buried is nothing new, but someone claiming it’s a new story is, at least for me anyway. I put this case in my bullshit basket about ten years ago.

cda said...

So what is Tony Bragalia's response to the above two quotes by von Braun, produced by Daniel Transit? I don't suppose for a moment that he (Bragalia) will admit that his 2nd and 3rd hand information is highly dubious and therefore false.

I expect he will continue to persuade his followers that von Braun and other Paperclip rocket scientists had a hand in recovering the Roswell wreckage, and were (of course) forced to maintain their silence about it, or lie about it, ever since.

Meanwhile the great Roswell Deception allegedly continues.....

Brian B said...

My comments won’t change this conversation to any degree, but I do agree the US Military would probably have collectively accepted Von Braun as key to an analysis of any crashed saucers, if saucers had actually crashed. But they didn’t.

I can also see certain members of the military feeling apprehensive of his involvement, if necessary, not because he was an ex-Nazi but because the Cold War was on and there was always concern some of these Paperclip guys might be passing classified info to the Soviets.

I can see it going either way.

However I do believe that Von Braun’s comments about extraterrestrials has been widely taken out of context when used to support the idea he was a firm believer that saucers were piloted by aliens. Carol Rosin has made many attempts to shift the narrative in this direction, and taken out of context Von Braun’s comments seem to support this notion that he feared a false flag alien invasion as means to propagate another world wide conflict.

Von Braun’s actual quotes are much clearer and paint a more rational view. He obviously felt life elsewhere was a possibility, but he didn’t associate flying saucers as evidence they were here visiting us. Instead he conveyed that people in power might actually use the excuse that an alien invasion was imminent as means to simply build their military power and use it against other nations.

I would add that Hermann Oberth was indeed far more vocal in his beliefs that saucers represented nuts and bolts alien spacecraft. However that doesn’t make Oberth correct in any way. It’s simply his personal opinion.

Just as today, many scientists believe in life elsewhere but don’t believe it’s visiting us, while some people feel they actually are.

Clarence said...

Brain B states:

"...Just as today, many scientists believe in life elsewhere but don’t believe it’s visiting us....".

An interesting statement, and it seems to accurately reflect many who have commented on the issue, including Carl Sagan, Hawking, and others of note. The notion is also of great interest because of what it might reveal on a psychological basis; that the idea of extraterrestrial life is perfectly reasonable, as long as it's out there and not *here*.

Clarence said...

...some of this also touches on Stanton Freidman's work on MJ-12 and to what extent the members of that alleged group were somehow qualified. Wouldn't it seem at first glance that hundreds of people would have fit the bill to examine the Roswell debris? What exactly was it that Von Braun knew that would have made him the "go to" person? Obviously an alien craft would look nothing like a V-2, which was mostly Von Braun's area of expertise.

Brian B said...


I agree Von Braun is perhaps best known (publicly) for his V2 rocket technology, but let’s not forget he also designed a host of other flying machines including several radically exotic VTOL and jet powered craft.

Overall I think he was best known for his personal goal of getting man into space — something he was thinking about long before he entered into the Paperclip program — and reason he ended up heading the Saturn V program.

Even NASA regards him as key to manned space flight and space science in general.

If he was at Roswell (and I don’t believe he really was in July 1947), then I would think that his expertise in powered spaceflight would have been the reason.

But no, I think he was actually in El Paso at the time.

Clarence said...

Brian B: all good points...

I'm somewhat skeptical on the Roswell craft being an alien vehicle, especially because the material recovered appears somewhat flimsy to have been from an interstellar craft or even an alien atmospheric type ship. I have no way of knowing whether or not von Braun was at Roswell, but if he was, if might have been because he had a working idea of how a space going craft might have been constructed (metallurgical considerations and other design elements)....