German Rocket Experts Serving Stalin

Juergen Ast | Karlheinz Eyermann

Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Martin Huebner

30' | 45'

astfilm productions | for MDR

In 1945, special forces of the victorious allied powers are scanning devastated Germany in search of a special kind of "booty". On top of the wish list, the "wonder weapon" V2. Stalin turns his special attention to the German experts. Wernher von Braun, the mastermind of the V2 rocket, he already is in the hands of the Americans. And so as a start, the Soviet's have to be satisfied with Helmut Groetrupp, also one of the leading rocket scientists. In the summer of 1945, the Soviets "recruit" some 5.000 German specialists and with this new manpower they start to reactivate the biggest weapon factory of the Nazis at Bleicherode near the Harz mountains. It is here where once the V2 rockets were mass-produced. The prospects for Groetrupp, Albring, and the other German experts are tempting: food, good payment, firm employment contracts.

But by October 22nd 1946, all dreams had to be messed up. In the early morning, suddenly Soviet special forces appear and they confront the stunned Germans with the drastic words: "By orders from the Soviet military administration, you now must work for five years in the Soviet Union. You may take your wife and children along, and as many things as you wish." The final destination is Gorodomlia, an island 250 miles away from Moscow.

The documentary tells of the fate of the German "rocket slaves", it recalls the deportation, the everyday life far away from home, the life in a "golden cage", the hopes and the very desperate moments. In focus is the story of Werner Albring, who only returned in 1953 with his family and found a new home in Dresden. "The Victor's booty" - a in-depth look at backgrounds, methods and aims of the probably largest "know-how deal" during the Cold War. Till today, it is a story full of myths and legends. And still many regard those German rocket experts as the real fathers of the Soviet's success in space.