Research and story by Clarence Simonsen
All rights reserved
During my 53 years of research, I have studied all of the public A/4 rocket launch film recorded at Peenemunde, Germany, in the period of 13 June 1942 to 17 August of 1943. I have located from private collections and museums, 38 black and white photos of the first 34 rocket launches at Peenemunde, which all contained German tail art. Eight of these tail art images are recorded close-up on film and ten feature German women, [V2, V3, V4, V6, V12, V16, V18, V20, V25 and V36], two show a full front female face, [V2 and V25], one is a witch riding a rocket, [see Chapter Four] and three are full nudes, the most famous V4 on a quarter moon, “Frau Im Mond.” Two A/4 rockets received two painted images, V4 and V12, which still remains a mystery. It is believed only one A/4 rocket tail art was painted at Peenemunde in 1944, and this was for the 100th launch.
In October 1945, these same German scientists [under British control] test fired four A/4 rockets from Cuxhaven, in northern Germany. Each rocket contained German tail art and three were females, one German women fully clothed, one topless, and one fully nude.
The U. S. Army Corp of Engineers initiated construction of the new German V-2 [A/4] testing area at White Sands, New Mexico, in June 1945. This site was chosen as a missile research area next door to the Los Alamos Laboratory [200 miles to the north] and the Trinity Test Site where the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated on 16 July 1945.
An Army blockhouse was first constructed at what became Launch Complex 33 [LC-33] and this was followed by a large Quonset hut where the new German rockets would be assembled, rebuilt, and finally tested. Many other buildings were constructed for the testing of liquid-filled captured German A/4 rockets and thus launched the American rocket program for reaching into outer space.
The first and most important Operation Paperclip scientists arrived at Fort Strong, New York, on 20 September 1945, and they were moved to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. The Americans and Germans went over thousands of documents, putting them in order and creating accurate translations from German to English. It is very possible Gerd de Beek was involved in this process; however his family have no information as they were still in Germany. It is important to remember the fourteen tons of Peenemunde documents also contained the HAP-11 BILD archive photos albums with 1,458 album pages and 5,178 photos, including the de Beek A/4 tail art images.
The main group of 127 captured German scientists and missile experts arrived in the United States on 16 November 1945, and initial preparations began just before Christmas 1945. On 23 February 1946, 104 German scientists arrive at El Paso, Texas, and almost all of von Braun’s old Peenemunde team had been reunited at White Sands and the building of the A/4 rockets could begin. The first A/4 [V-2] static testing took place on 15 March 1946, and a peak number of 39 Germans are working on site at the White Sands Proving Grounds. Recorded by the Americans as V-2, #1, the test is 57 seconds long.
American test A/4 rocket was painted in special yellow and black paint patterns, [seen above] much the same as the black and white patterns used in Peenemunde. The Americans number this first launch as V-2, #2, while the German scientists secretly call this V1. The Americans use the Hitler term of V-2 and number the static test and launch in order, the Germans do not include the static test and title this as Versuchsmuster [test model] number V1. I can find no evidence this rocket contained any tail art image. The launch takes place on 16 April 1946, and reaches 18,000 feet, then at 6 seconds a steering vane broke off, followed at 11 seconds by a tail fin break. At 19 seconds, the engine cuts out and the rocket falls to earth and explodes.
This free domain image shows the new tower and V-2, #28, which was launched on 8 December 1947.
Source Internet [free domain]
On 10 May 1946, a second launch is fired and this becomes the first successful flight from White Sands Proving Grounds. This rocket is the second and last to be painted in yellow and black paint pattern and completely different from the first rocket. This also carried a little nude lady painted by Gerd de Beek and the red letter “2” as the Germans title this V2. I believe the little nude lady on the yellow and black rocket formed a secret “V” followed by the number 2.
The first two captured A/4 rockets were launched the same as they were in Peenemunde, Germany. The U. S. Army Corp of Engineers has now completed a new 75 foot tall gantry tower for the future testing of A/4 rockets.
On 27 January 1954, Gerd de Beek painted one last full nude “Frau Luna” on a Redstone RS-2 test rocket.
In the total of 44 known images of German A/4 rocket tail art, fifteen feature German females and five are nude, one is topless. I believe this reflects on the early birth of space travel interest in Germany during the early 1920s, combined with the open display of nudity in the German Kabaretts during the Weimar Republic.
The “Weimar Republic” was the historical name given to the new semi-presidential democracy formed in 1919 to replace the old German imperial form of governing. In its fourteen years the Weimar Republic faced the most serious economic problems ever experienced by any Western culture. Germans had lived under an authoritarian government, where all social activities and entertainment were tightly regulated. The cabaret was a French invention dating back to the 1880s, which was notorious for prostitutes and allowing lewd nude dancing. Berlin’s first cabaret [Kabarett] opened in 1901, though under the Kaiser’s reign was not permitted to allow humour, nude or provocative dancing, or any political satire. Under the new Weimar Republic, censorship was lifted and this soon gave way to the rebirth of open displays of nudity, where the gay men, lesbians, and transvestites, soon seized upon the liberality to openly display and discuss sexuality in the cabaret scene. While most Germans scrambled to just stay alive amid street fighting and daily food shortages, other rich Germans spent big and partied hard. These Germans joined the influx of American money and adventurous American tourists which turned Berlin into the hottest pleasure town in Europe. The American visitors from Prohibition-bound U.S. were amazed at how the Berliners experimented with all fashionable drugs. Thousands of young Berlin girls, [many were pre-teens age 15-17] worshipped a cabaret dancer who performed at the White Mouse. Anita Berber began her career at age 16, and performed in the nude, indulged in cocaine, morphine, and engaged in sex acts with both sexes.
She became the most provocative singer and fashion dancer, a German icon who died penniless in 1929, from self-abuse. Nudity flourished in most of the nightclubs, and all had some form of topless dancers, as well as the stage and screen, Berlin was the experimental sex and drug pleasure city of all Europe. Prostitutes roomed the streets in the thousands, wearing boots and whips, many were still schoolgirls wearing pigtails and carrying school books. All the girls registered with police and if a customer caught a disease they could even sue the girl.
The music and nightlife of Berliners strongly admired all things American and soon dance lessons were offered for the Charleston, Berlin flapper girls appeared, and American combo bands were copied such as Max de Groof’s which featured a banjo and girl singer. The Haller Revue at the Scala Theatre in Berlin, formed an all-blonde chorus line named the “Tiller Girls”, copied from the Ziegfeld girls in America.
Famous German composer Paul Lincke wrote his original score for the Operetta titled “Frau Luna” in 1899.
Part of the original score included a march “Berliner Luft” which became the unofficial anthem of the capital of Germany. The piece immediately became very popular all over Germany and Lincke used it again in a 1906 musical, itself name “Berliner Luft”. The Operetta was revised by Lincke in 1922 and while it did not contain any nudity, the girls appeared in a sexy Ziegfeld style chorus line. After an Operetta performance many of the Berliners continued to drink and dance in the over 400 Berlin cabarets.
The historical breakthrough of the 1929 film “Women in the Moon”, allowed Hermann Oberth to ask Fritz Lange to assist him in raising funds for research into a real rocket.
This by product of Frau Im Mond movie produced the first construction of a German gasoline, liquid oxygen rocket, which was launched 23 July 1930.
In 1930, President Hindenburg assumed dictatorial powers over Germany and the Great Depression worsened, causing huge unemployment and deflation of the German mark, which became worthless. In 1919 ten marks were worth one U.S. dollar. In 1930 it took four trillion marks to equal one dollar, and sex could be purchased for 30 cents American. This Great Depression combined with Weimar Berlin’s carefree open morally lifestyle became partly responsible for the rise of Nazism and Adolf Hitler. The legal powers taken by the Nazi party in February and March 1933, [seizure of power] allowed the new government to legislate contrary to the constitution.
Wernher von Braun has just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and with the help of Capt. Walter Dornberger, enrolled at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University of Berlin, to study physics. His doctorial studies are now funded by the Ordnance Department of the German Army. The future new German rocket research has become part of the new Nazi Totalitarian Society, over which the scientists and engineers will have little control.
Hitler quickly closed down the sexually operated night clubs, and outlandish cabarets, banned jazz, arrested gays, homosexuals and transvestites, sending all to concentration camps where they were worked to death or just shot. It is estimated 15,000 gays died in concentration camps. Many of the German cabarets were operated by creative directors who were Jewish; some would escape to Hollywood, U.S.A. but many others ended their lives in concentration camps. Another first step of the new regime was to eliminate German street prostitution; to control brothels and charge prostitutes if they offered their services in the public. The forming of the League of Girls and SS “Aryan” super race provided a double solution to the prostitution problem. In 1930, the Nazi Party formed a female branch of the Hitler Youth movement. The title was Bund Deutscher Madel in der Hitler-Jugend, [League of German girls]. The league did not attract a mass following until Hitler came to power in 1933.
On 1 December 1936, a new law concerning the Hitler Youth forced all eligible female juveniles to become a member of the League of German Girls. The girls were divided into two groups, ages 10 to 14 and ages 14 to 18 years. These girls would be thoroughly indoctrinated in their duty to bear children for the Reich, in or out of marriage. Just one year earlier, 12 December 1935, under orders of Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler, the SS Race program began, known as Lebensborn or Fountain of Life. The SS authorities built a chain of maternity homes across the German Reich and encouraged all women [married or single] to produce children for the Fuhrer. German women, who conceived a child from an SS officer or any male with the “Aryan” or “Nordic” features, were entitled to give birth at any of the luxurious Lebensborn centers.
German Federal Archives free domain image of a 1944 Lebensborn
[Fountain of Youth] maternity ward.
The German SS men were instructed to maintain stable relations with more than one women, and they did not have to get married. The children of such unions were considered legitimate, and the baby was placed with a suitable family. The Nazi party arranged special meetings between the SS men and the League of German Girls, which took place at sports camps, social centers, and large scale annual rallies. The 1936 Reichsparteitag rally in Nurnberg produced over 900 pregnancies with some girls as young as 14 years of age.
German Federal Archives image
female members Nazi Party march, Worms, Germany, 1933-39.
By 1934, the Nazi party began to shower its eight million members with an assortment of medals and insignia, all to enhance their sense of authority. Like the medals given in the 1936 Olympics, Hitler created a bronze, silver, and gold [Mutterkreuz] Mother’s Cross. This was introduced by decree of Hitler on 16 December 1938, awarded annually on the second Sunday in May, Mothering Sunday. The gold Mother’s Cross was presented to all German women [married or not] who produced eight or more children for the new master “Aryan” race.
Taken from German Federal Archives image, this is a portrait of a family from Saxony, Germany, August 1943. The mother has received the highest award of the “Gold” Mutterkreuz Mother’s Cross. Six of her sons are serving in the German military, two of her youngest girls are in the BDM age 10-14 years [Jungmadelbund] the other is in the Bund Deutscher Madel [BDM] age 14 – 18 years League of Girls. The three boys are in the Hitler Youth. This was not volunteer, but in fact law which Hitler created in 1933, only three months after taking power. This powerful portrait shows that in only ten years Hitler has created a fountainhead for the future German racial elite military force. The German mother is the only one not in uniform and her function is to produce children for the “Fuhrer” as a sacred duty. The three young daughters are also being indoctrinated in their duty to bear children for the super race and the Reich.
German Federal Archives free domain
This proud looking mother has received her Cross of Honor on 17 May 1943. The League of Girls [age 14-18 years] are part of the ceremony which again indoctrinates them to produce children for the Fuhrer and Reich.
This Cross of Honour for the German Mother gave recognition to the importance of women’s role and motherhood in support of the strong German Reich nation. This powerful influence of the Nazi ideology on wives and mothers clearly shows up in the non-appearance of women, nude, or otherwise in all German military units.
free domain from the Internet
This special stamp was issued in 1943 on the tenth anniversary of the Deutsches Reich.
Until now, aircraft nose art and squadron insignia have conventionally always been undervalued in serious military research.
In my adult life-time of research on this subject, I have viewed tens of thousands of Allied aircraft nose art images, and the pin-up girl, topless or nude, is always the main source of inspiration.
In viewing over 920 images used by the German Luftwaffe in WWII, not one single woman appears in their aircraft or squadron art design. These images contain only two female witches, both fully clothed, showing garter belt and stockings.
The Luftwaffe had one other uncommon practice, painting and sharing coat of arms with units of the Wehrmacht, [Armed Forces of Germany] mostly the Navy U-Boats. In viewing over 430 [Kriegsmarine] U-Boat insignia and emblems painted on the conning towers, only two female images are used. One is a full face of a German women and the second is a fully nude witch riding her broom.
The correct term for the German Army of the Nazi era 1935-45 was Heer. They inherited their uniforms and insignia from the Weimar Republic and were called Reichsheer until May 1935, when they became the land force of “Wehrmacht” [Armed Forces of Germany]. English historians tend to confuse when they commonly refer to the land forces Army of Germany as Wehrmacht. The Heer wore insignia with some traditions that went back to the Imperial Army of the German Empire or earlier. Not one women or nude image can be found in hundreds of insignia the Heer used during WW II.
Rare Army [Heer] beer hall wall art of German hostess.
During the period May 1935 to May 1945 a total of 18.2 million people served in the German Wehrmacht [German Armed Forces]. Hundreds of unit artists served with these forces and almost anything served as their source of inspiration for painting unit insignia.
This resulted in styles from classic German heraldry, political art directed at England, animals, humourous cartoons to some downright bizarre images. The non-appearance of any nude German women is due to the influence imposed by the Nazi ideology of the new role of the women as wife and mother in the new Nazi super race.
Why did the tail art on the German A/4 rockets launched at Peenemunde not follow this strict Nazi ideology that frowned on any nudity in Wehrmacht insignia, badge, logo, or any military form?
I believe that answer was part of the life of Wernher von Braun, the man in charge and the one who approved the use of this short lived secret meaning rocket tail art.
The German A/4 rocket tail art with nude ladies will carry on to Cuxhaven, Germany, and then to the United States of America, and finally the moon.
The first postwar launch of a captured A/4 rocket under the British “Operation Backfire” testing will be scheduled for 1 October 1945. The British are in charge, or at least they think they are, but in fact they are just learning from the scientific Germans who possess all the power to arrange the date for this special first rocket launch. Preparations for launch began at 09:30 hrs and continue until all clear is given at 15:27 hrs. Two German technicians then glue a tail art painting by artist Gerd de Beek to the rocket skin, the same routine they had conducted at Peenemunde at least 33 times. The British record this event on film [Backfire negative #76-9074] and think nothing of it; secretly this new painting was most important to these scientific prisoners of war and the tail art is reborn.
Photo used with permission of V2rocket.com website
On 27 May 1945, an American Army [German speaking] officer had tricked a top von Braun scientist into revealing the location of the 14 tons of Peenemunde rocket research material hidden in an abandoned iron mine. The American government ordered it removed from the soon to be British sector under the very eyes of the British Army and this caused a major Allied conflict. To avoid further conflict the American government ordered General Eisenhower to sanction the firing of captured A/4 rockets by the British Army at Cuxhaven, a Northern port in Germany. The American Army then loaned 591 German [P.O.W.] technicians to the British for the test firing, 367 technicians with a labour force of 224. This total also included 127 top German technicians who had been selected by von Braun to go to the United States and create the new American White Sands Proving Grounds.
The de Beek tail art is reborn and his paintings feature three females, one topless, one fully clothed, and one fully nude. [Full details and color art in Chapter Eight]
The first British A/4 launches are attempted at 15:54 hrs, but not successful, and repairs are conducted on the A/4 rocket. At 18:15 hrs a second launch is attempted, and again failure. A further attempt to fire was not attempted due to the lateness of the hour, and the rocket was returned to the Vertical Testing Chamber at 22:00 hrs. The date is forgotten by historians; however it was very important to the captured German A/4 team and their old boss.
On 1 October 1932, Wernher von Braun joined the German Army Ordnance Office Rocket Program and this marked his 13th anniversary. The meaning of the little German girl is unknown, but I’m sure it was connected with the date and Frau Luna going to the Moon.
If you fast forward thirteen more years, another very important space event takes place when the National Aeronautics and Space Act was signed into law by now President Eisenhower, on 29 July 1958. On 1 October 1958, the first administrator of NASA [Keith Glennan] was sworn in at the White House, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are officially born.
I’m positive Wernher von Braun was pleased with the date selection and possibly had some connections with the chosen day and month which was only special to him and his Paperclip scientists.
Source Internet [Free domain]