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Walter Dornberger

German general
Dornberger (on the left, with hat) together with von Braun, after their surrender to Allies in Austria, May 1945

Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger (September 6, 1895 - June 27, 1980) was a German army officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. During the 1930s and 40s, he directed Germany's rocket and missile programmes, which culminated in the V-2 rocket.


  • The history of technology will record that for the first time a machine of human construction, a five-and-a-half-ton missile, covered a distance of a hundred and twenty miles with a lateral deflection of only two and a half miles from the target. Your names, my friends and colleagues, are associated with this achievement. We did it with automatic control. From the artilleryman's point of view, the creation of the rocket as a weapon solves the problem of the weight of heavy guns. We are the first to have given a rocket built on the principles of aircraft construction a speed of thirty-three hundred miles per hour by means of rocket propulsion. Acceleration throughout the period of propulsion was no more than five times that of gravity, perfectly normal for maneuvering of aircraft. We have thus proved that it is quite possible to build piloted missiles or aircraft to fly at supersonic speed, given the right form and suitable propulsion. Our automatically controlled and stabilized rocket has reached heights never touched by any man-made machine. Since the tilt was not carried to completion our rocket today reached a height of nearly sixty miles. We have thus broken the world altitude record of twenty-five miles previously held by the shell fired from the now almost legendary Paris Gun.
    The following points may be deemed of decisive significance in the history of technology: we have invaded space with our rocket and for the first time--mark this well--have used space as a bridge between two points on the earth; we have proved rocket propulsion practicable for space travel. To land, sea, and air may now be added infinite empty space as an area of future intercontinental traffic, thereby acquiring political importance. This third day of October, 1942, is the first of a new era in transportation, that of space travel. . . .
    So long as the war lasts, our most urgent task can only be the rapid perfection of the rocket as a weapon. The development of possibilities we cannot yet envisage will be a peacetime task. Then the first thing will be to find a safe means of landing after the journey through space...
    • Dornberger, Walter (1952 -- US translation V-2 Viking Press:New York, 1954). V2--Der Schuss ins Weltall. Esslingan: Bechtle Verlag. pp. p17,236. 
  • On August 8, 1944, when Himmler appointed SS General Kammler Commissioner General for the A-4 program, it looked as though the struggle for control had come to an end. I felt like a man who has devoted years of toil and affection to making a superb violin, a masterpiece which needs only tuning, and who then has to look on helplessly while the instrument is grabbed by a tough, unmusical woodman and scraped with a jagged lump of wood.

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