The key thing is that they aren’t gaming the system somehow, they are being allowed to do this by the US government as part of a deal.
These guys are all very old, in their 90s and whatnot. They’re old, dying men. Yes, 70 years ago as young 20 somethings, they got swept up in the war machine of a different age. Yes, they have blood on their hands, but if we were going to hold them accountable for that, we had many chances to do so a literal lifetime ago.
Let the broken old men who can’t work and are waiting to die have the small amount of money the government willingly chose to promise them in exchange for their leaving the country. Living off of $18,000 annually is a far cry from living in the lap of luxury, particularly when you’ve got the weight of a lifetime of regrets and eternal public hatred and villification to live with.
Human misery must somewhere have a stop; there is no wind that always blows a storm. Let these buggers live what is left of their miserable lives with the pittance our government knowingly decided to give them. They won’t bother us much in the time they have left, and afterwards they’ll bother no one at all.
Call him a Nazi, he won’t even frown. “Ha, Nazi Schmazi,” says Wernher von Braun.
Prosecute them and jail them if found guilty, or leave them alone. I can see no reason to deny anyone their retirement benefits because they are “suspects” of crime, no matter how vile that crime may be.
And why should he? He used the resources he had on hand to pursue - and, at the end, fulfill - his dream of interplanetary flight. The GPS and other satellites and all the cute pics from Hubble and its brothers are his legacy.
Don’t say that he’s hypocritical, say rather that he’s… apolitical.
No actual story here.
First off they are “accused”. Until found guilty they are to be treated as innocent.
Second, Social Security has no morals or behavior clauses that I am familiar with. You could be Jack the Ripper, you’re still entitled to your money.
Third, they cut a deal with the Feds. They honored their part, now we honor ours.
Maybe it’s a slow news day? Maybe someone in Washington wants us busy watching something that’s not them?
Yeah, it’s just a little slave labor. All Great Powers do it. No biggie.
It’s possible to praise his scientific accomplishments without excusing his collaboration with one of the most despicable regimes that ever existed. If WWII had ended differently there’s little doubt that the German government would have erected a big bronze statue of Von Braun as a hero of the Nazi war effort.
The Nazis did some disgusting, despicable things, but at least they never tried to rhyme “frown” with “Braun”.
You do not understand. This is the internet. Standards of evidence do not apply. In fact, watch how “suspected Nazi war criminals” become “Nazi war criminals” with a wave of the html.
I pray when they finally catch me, Xeni is not on the jury.
It’s easy to judge with the 20/20 hindsight.
At the beginning, he was just playing with rockets at a shoestring budget. Then the military came in and offered money to do what he wanted to do - a no-brainer to accept. After some time, the war started; things were getting worse (while at the same time the importance of his projects skyrocketed) and later the true face of the regime shown off - and by then few would step out if that would mean going to get shot or sent to the Eastern front, I know I wouldn’t. By the time things got this bad he was too deep to get out and live. Then the war ended and he, knowing that he possesses important knowledge, gave himself up to the side that seemed to (and did, as it shown later) promise higher chance to continue his work on his spaceflight dreams. Which got fulfilled at the end.
Meanwhile, the US treated him as a hero of the US Cold War effort - we sure were happy to have him working for us in the Space Race, and helping us with our ICBMs.
If we’re to fault Von Braun for anything, it ought to be for his willingness to work for governments and militaries period - not for working for this specific country or that specific regime - because they’re all rotten, and they always have been. Politics is a dirty business, and if you build moon rockets by making a deal with a devil, it really doesn’t matter which particular devil it is.
I’m not much of a military-industrial-complex apologist, but there were a few key differences in the production process between those two particular programs:
Proof exists however that von Braun himself went to KZ Buchenwald to pick slave laborers (letter to Albin Sawatzki dated August 15, 1944). Former inmate Adam Cabala reported: “[…] also the German scientists led by Prof. Wernher von Braun were aware of everything daily. As they went along the corridors, they saw the exhaustion of the inmates, their arduous work and their pain. Not one single time did Prof. Wernher von Braun protest against this cruelty and bestiality during his frequent stays at Dora. Even the aspect of corpses did not touch him: On a small area near the ambulance shed, inmates tortured to death by slave labor and the terror of the overseers were piling up daily. […] But Prof. Wernher von Braun passed them so close that he was almost touching the corpses” 
And what would speaking out have gotten him? Nothing. At best he’d be ignored, at worst he would have been beaten and imprisoned by the Gestapo.
Not perfect person by any means, but having read several books on early rocket pioneers, von Braun appears in my eyes as someone who allied with the powers that be at the time. He didn’t have dreams of conquest, just building rockets. He saw the Nazis as an ends to a means and really had no other choice in Germany at the time. He wasn’t a dyed-in-the-wool Nazi, believing in the Third Reich. Remember in March 1944 he was arrested and briefly imprisoned by the Gestapo for daring to say he’d rather make rockets to go to the moon to be used to bomb cities. They also cited that since he as pilot he had the capability of defecting with his secrets. He might have spent the rest of the war there if one of the higher ups hadn’t petitions to get him released.
All this talk of Von Braun has reminded me of Fritz Haber. Who pretty much solved the 20th century’s food crisis, and has allowed the planet to support a population of over 7 billion. Also, he developed practical methods for storing and weaponizing mustard gas, and oversaw it’s use during the first world war. He was, quite possibly one of the most diametrically opposing figures in science to Von Braun.
Von Braun was a guy who liked building rockets, and was pretty much forced by circumstance to work for the Germans first, and then later the Americans. He was for the most part a-political. While Haber was a diehard
Nazi** supporter of the state, and devoted himself to the state in both word and deed. So much so in fact, his wife threw down the ultimatum that he stop his work creating chemical weapons, threatened to kill herself, and did when he refused to cede to her demand. Then a few days later Haber decided to double down on chemical warfare and went to oversee a chlorine gas release on the battlefield.
** I didn’t read carefully enough and misspoke, it was before the Nazis were in power, as @JonS kindly corrected me.
You’re ignoring my point entirely.
I don’t care how much worse which particular devil was, the other guy was still a devil too - one that was all too happy to employ Van Braun for his own nefarious ends once the bigger devil was done with him.
And we’re celebrating his work every time we power up our GPS or watch satellite photos of weather…
I think celebrating is a rather strong, completely inaccurate word for it.
Van Braun shaped history, and we certainly find ourselves benefiting from the technology that ended up being developed out of his advances, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also still find fault with the path that was taken to bring all of it about. We need not agree with the choices of the past to make the best of where we find ourselves in the present.
The problem is that in a state with real rule of law it is difficult to take away a state pension once the pensioner has paid in for the required time period.
OTOH the accusation of Jew outside of the Reich proper or living in a ghetto was usually enough to throw him to the work-to-death camps without requiring a court hearing on racial purity. Diabolical these camps as they literally used up the energy reserves in these humans to further the German war effort until the people became starved and of no further work value before industrial genocide of 30-40% of the well dispersed worldwide uninvolved/neutral/noncombatant in the war Jews who still have yet to replace their lost numbers.