The General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series on World War II: “Von Braun: In War, Peace, and History” with Michael Neufeld, PhD
Reception: 5:00 p.m. | Presentation: 6:00 p.m. | Book signing: 7:00 p.m.
This event is free and open to the public. Register today to join us in person or to view the event online.
Join The National WWII Museum for a conversation with Michael Neufeld, PhD, and Jason Dawsey, PhD, Historian in the Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, on the complicated life and legacy of scientist Wernher von Braun.
Chief rocket engineer of the Third Reich and one of the fathers of the US space program, von Braun is a source of consistent fascination. Glorified as a visionary and vilified as a war criminal, he was a man of profound moral complexities, whose intelligence and charisma were coupled with an enormous and, some would say, blinding ambition. Following the end of the war, von Braun, along with over 1,000 other German scientists, were brought to the United States for Operation Paperclip.
Operation Paperclip, a secret intelligence program designed to aid the United States during the Cold War, harnessed the German scientists’ intelligence to assist with America’s development of V-2 rockets and other biological and chemical weapons. Von Braun would eventually become the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight center and later became the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle that would bring American astronauts to the moon.
Neufeld will discuss his meticulously researched and authoritative portrait of the creator of the V-2 rocket and his times, detailing a man caught between morality and progress, between his dreams of the heavens and the earthbound realities of his life.
A reception at 5:00 p.m. will precede the 6:00 p.m. lecture, and Neufeld will sign copies of his book following the presentation. Purchase a copy of Neufeld’s book in advance here. If you cannot make it to the Museum for this event, watch live through Vimeo.
Michael J. Neufeld retired in 2023 as a Senior Curator in the Space History Department of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Born in Canada, he has four history degrees, including a PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1984. Neufeld has published numerous academic and popular articles and has written or edited nine books, notably The Rocket and the Reich (1995), Von Braun (2007) and Spaceflight: A Concise History (2018). In 2017, Secretary David Skorton gave him the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar Award, the Institution’s highest research honor. Asteroid 329018 Neufeld is named for him.
The General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series on World War II is devoted to the legacy of America’s largest war. Speakers include writers, scholars, distinguished members of the Armed Forces, and journalists. The lecture series is open to the public through the generosity of the late Major General and Mrs. Raymond E. Mason Jr. and the Raymond E. Mason Foundation.
For additional information, please email Connie Gentry, Conference and Program Specialist, at email@example.com.