Influence of Nazi rocket Technology on US space exploration:
After the Nazi defeat in WWII, the knowledge gained was spirited to the US under the CIA's Operation Paperclip via the Vatican “Rat-line” that gave the US space program and war department its shot in the arm.More information about how the Vatican shielded Nazi war criminals and allowed them to escape from Europe to Central America can be found in my blog "Vatican Ratlines for Nazis After WW II." Nazis escaped to safe havens throughout South America.
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath ofWorld War II (1939–45).
It was conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency(JIOA), and in the context of the burgeoning Soviet–American Cold War (1945–91); one purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific knowledge and expertise to the USSR and the UK and to (divided) Germany itself.
Although the JIOA's recruitment of German scientists began after the European Allied victory (8 May 1945), US President Harry Truman did not formally order the execution of Operation Paperclip until August 1945. Truman's order expressly excluded anyone found "to have been a member of the Nazi Party, and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazi militarism." However, those restrictions would have rendered ineligible most of the leading scientists the JIOA had identified for recruitment, among them rocket scientists Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph, and the physician Hubertus Strughold, each earlier classified as a "menace to the security of the Allied Forces".
To circumvent President Truman's anti-Nazi order, and the Allied Potsdam and Yalta agreements, the JIOA worked independently to create false employment and political biographies for the scientists. The JIOA also expunged from the public record the scientists' Nazi Party memberships and régime affiliations. Once "bleached" of their Nazism, the US government granted the scientists security clearance to work in the United States. Paperclip, the project's operational name, derived from the paperclips used to attach the scientists' new political personae to their "US Government Scientist" JIOA personnel files.Wernher von Braun (1912–1977) was one of the most important German rocket developers and champions of space exploration during the period between the 1930s and the 1970s. . . As a means of furthering his desire to build large and capable rockets, in 1932 he went to work for the German army at a secret laboratory at Peenemünde on the Baltic coast to develop ballistic missiles. While engaged in this work, von Braun received a Ph.D. in physics on July 27, 1934. . . Before the Allied capture of the V–2 rocket complex, von Braun engineered the surrender of 500 of his top rocket scientists, along with plans and test vehicles, to the Americans. For fifteen years after World War II, von Braun worked with the U.S. Army in the development of ballistic missiles. . . Von Braun also became one of the most prominent spokesmen of space exploration in the United States during the 1950s. In 1970, NASA leadership asked von Braun to move to Washington, D.C., to head up the strategic planning effort for the agency. He left his home in Huntsville, Ala., but in 1972 he decided to retire from NASA and work for Fairchild Industries of Germantown, Md. He died in Alexandria, Va., on June 16, 1977.
You may learn more details about this remarkable story by reading Craig Nelson's book, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon. The space program was launched using the knowledge of rockets available at the end of World War II and former Third Reich scientists working in both American and Soviet programs.