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German school to honor V2 rocket pioneer

Feb. 5, 2008 at 5:53 PM

BERNSTADT, Germany, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A town in eastern Germany is under fire for its plan to name a school after one of its best-known sons, V-2 rocket pioneer Klaus Riedel.

Riedel, who worked on the German military rocket program with Wernher von Braun from 1933 until his death in a car crash in 1944, has already been honored in Bernstadt auf dem Eigen with a monument and a small museum. He also has a crater on the moon named in his honor.

But critics say that a school should not honor a man who must have known that the rockets he designed and tested were built with slave labor, Deutsche Welle reported. Astrid Gunther-Schmidt, a member of Germany's Green Party, fears the town will become a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis.

The V-2 rocket, developed late in World War II, was the first ballistic missile. V-2s killed nearly 2,800 people in London alone.

Harold Tresp, author of a biography of Riedel, said residents of Bernstadt tend view Riedel in too favorable a light.

"Riedel was not a Nazi, but he very clearly knew what the rocket was used for," Tresp told Spiegel On Line.

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