NEW YORK (Jul. 25)
German-American colleagues of accused Nazi scientist Arthur Rudolph, members of the Wernher von Braun rocket team brought here after the war, have initiated a $500,000 fund-raising campaign to restore Rudolph’s American citizenship, the World Jewish Congress disclosed today.
Rudolph, who directed the Saturn moon rocket program for NASA, returned to Germany and surrendered his U.S. citizenship in March 1984 as part of an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department which confronted him with charges he had worked slave laborers to death at a Nazi V-2 rocket factory during World War II.
According to WJC vice president Kalman Sultanik, $8,000 had already been raised on behalf of Rudolph. “Dr. Walter Haeussermann, a colleague of Rudolph, has said that the money is to be used to hire attorneys ‘to prove that Dr. Rudolph is not guilty of anything,” Sultanik noted.
Hauessermann also said that the money in “the Old Timers Defense Fund, Inc.” would be used to defend other German rocket team members if the Justice Department pursues further accusations against them.
Sultanik charged that the fund was only the latest in a series of “shocking efforts to rehabilitate Rudolph and to whitewash the past.” He noted that Eberhard Rees, the German rocket team member who succeeded von Braun, met just last month with White House communications director Patrick Buchanan to plead Rudolph’s case. “Rees emerged from the meeting claiming that the President’s spokesman had indicated his support for restoring Rudolph’s citizenship,” Sultanik added.
In June, retired Maj. Gen. John Medaris, who was in charge of the German rocket scientists brought here, wrote President Reagan petitioning him to “restore Dr. Rudolph’s citizenship and welcome him back to the United States.” Joining in signing the petition were 100 surviving members of the German rocket team, Sultanik said.
Meanwhile, Sultanik disclosed that the WJC had obtained a captured SS document showing the presence of both Rudolph and von Braun at a meeting discussing the procurement of additional slave laborers and the internment of 1,800 French civilians in the concentration camp attached to the V-2 rocket factory. The 1944 document, labeled “Top Secret,” was located in the Imperial War Museum in London.