(peːnəˈmʏndə) is a village in the northeast of the German
(Western) part of the Usedom
island. It stands near the mouth(s) of the Peene
river, on the easternmost part of the German Baltic
coast. On April 2, 1936, the Reich Air Ministry
paid 750,000 reichsmarks to the town of Wolgast
for the whole Northern peninsula of Usedom. By the middle of 1938, the Peenemünde facility was nearly complete. The Army Research Center (Peenemünde Ost
) consisted of Werk Ost
and Werk Süd
, while Werk West
) was the Luftwaffe
Test Site (Erprobungsstelle der Luftwaffe
). The location permitted rocket test flights over water with monitoring along about 320 km of the Pomeranian coast. Peenemunde also developed WWII night-navigation and radar systems
(Dr. Johannes Plendl
Army Research Center Peenemünde
Following earlier experiments at Kummersdorf
, the Army Research Center Peenemünde (Heeresversuchsstelle Peenemünde
in German, abbreviated HVP) was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office (Heeres Waffenamt
Dr Wernher von Braun
was the HVP technical director (Dr Walter Thiel
was deputy director) and there were nine major departments:
- Technical Design Office (Walter J H "Papa" Riedel)
- Aeroballistics and Mathematics Laboratory (Dr Hermann Steuding)
- Wind Tunnel (Dr Rudolph Hermann)
- Materials Laboratory (Dr Mäder)
- Flight, Guidance, and Telemetering Devices (Bord-, Steuer- und Messgeräte, BSM Dr Ernst Steinhoff)
- Development and Fabrication Laboratory (Arthur Rudolph)
- Test Laboratory (Klaus Riedel)
- Future Projects Office (Ludwig Roth)
- Purchasing Office (Mr Genthe)
Additional departments included the Production Planning Directorate (Detmar Stahlknecht), the Measurements Group, the Personnel Office (Richard Sundermeyer) and the Drawings Change Service.
Guided Missile Development
Several WWII German guided missiles
were developed by the HVP, including the V-2 rocket
) (see test launches
), and the Wasserfall
(35 Peenemünde trial firings), Schmetterling
, and Enzian
missiles. The HVP also performed preliminary design of rockets for use against the United States.
The Peenemünde establishment also developed other techniques, such as the first closed-circuit television system in the world, installed at Test Stand VII to track the launching rockets.
The supersonic wind tunnel
at Peenemünde's "Aerodynamic Institute" eventually had nozzles for speeds up to the then-record Mach 4.4 (1942/1943), as well as an innovative desiccant system to reduce condensation clouding (1940). Led by Dr Rudolph Hermann who arrived in April 1937 from the University of Aachen
, the staff reached two hundred in 1943 and included Dr Hermann Kurzweg (University of Leipzig
) and Dr Walter Haeussermannan.
Initially set up under the HVP as a rocket training battery (Number 444), Heimat-Artillerie-Park 11 Karlshagen/Pomerania
(HAP 11) also contained the A-A Research Command North for anti-aircraft rocket testing. Chemist Magnus Freiherr von Braun
, youngest brother of Wernher von Braun, was employed in the Peenemünde development of anti-aircraft
Peenemünde V-2 Production Plant
In November 1938, Walther von Brauchitsch
ordered construction of an A-4 Production Plant at Peenemünde, and in January 1939, Walter Dornberger
created a subsection of Wa Pruf 11 for planning the Peenemünde Production Plant project, headed by G. Schubert, a senior Army civil servant. By midsummer 1943, the first trial runs of the assembly-line in the Production Works at Werke Süd
were made, but after the end of July 1943 when the enormous hangar Fertigungshalle 1
(F-1, Mass Production Plant No. 1) was just about to go into operation, Operation Hydra
bombed Peenemünde. On August 26, 1943, Albert Speer
called a meeting with Hans Kammler
, Dornberger, Gerhard Degenkolb, and Karl Otto Saur to negotiate the move of A-4 main production to an underground factory in the Harz
mountains. In early September, Peenemünde machinery and personnel for production (including Alban Sawatzki
, Arthur Rudolph
, and about ten engineers) were moved to the Mittelwerk
, which also received machinery and personnel from the two other planned A-4 assembly sites. On October 13, 1943, the Peenemünde prisoners from the small F-1 concentration camp boarded rail cars bound for Kohnstein
As the opening attack of the British Operation Crossbow
, the Operation Hydra air-raid
targeted the HVP's "Sleeping & Living Quarters" (to specifically target scientists), then the "Factory Workshops", and finally the "Experimental Station on the night of 17
August, 1943. According to an official German report, this raid killed 815 workers (most of them foreign prisoners of war
), and Walter Thiel
, the head of engine development. A year later on July 18, August 4, and August 25,, the US Eighth Air Force
conducted three additional Peenemünde raids
to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production. Two Polish slave janitors' of Peenemünde's Camp Trassenheide, as a reward for their early 1943 sketches and reports to Polish Home Army Intelligence
, received preliminary warnings of the first attack, but the workers could not leave due to SS security and the facility lacked air raid shelters for the prisoners. In June 1943, British intelligence had received two such reports had identify the "rocket assembly hall', 'experimental pit', and 'launching tower'.
As with the move of the V-2 Production Works to the Mittelwerk
, the complete withdrawal of development
of guided missiles was approved by the Army and SS in October 1943. On August 26, 1943 at a meeting in Albert Speer
's office, Hans Kammler
suggested moving the A-4 Development Works to a proposed underground site in Austria. After a September site survey by Papa Riedel and Schubert, Kammler designated the code name Zement
in English) in December for the site, and construction to blast an underground cavern into a cliff at lake Traunsee near Gmunden
started in the beginning of 1944. In early 1944, construction started for test stands and launching pads in the Alps (code name Salamander
), with target areas planned for the Tatra Mountains
, the Arlberg
range, and the area of the Ortler
mountain. Other evacuation locations included:
- *Hans Lindenmayr's valve laboratory near Friedland moved to a castle near the village of Leutenberg, 10 km S of Saalfeld near the Bavarian border.
- *the materials testing laboratory moved to an air base at Anklam
- *the wind tunnels moved to Kochel (then after the war, to White Oak MD, USA)
For personnel being relocated from Peenemünde, the new organization was to be designated Entwicklungsgemeinschaft Mittelbau (Mittelbau Development Company) and Kammler's order to relocate to Thuringia arrived by teletype on January 31, 1945. On February 3, 1945, at the last meeting at Peenemünde was held regarding the relocation, the HVP consisted of A-4 development/modification (1940 people), A-4b development (27), Wasserfall and Taifun development (1455), support and administration (760). The first train departed on February 17 with 525 people enroute to Thuringia (including Bleicherode, Sangerhausen (district), and Bad Sachsa) and the evacuation was complete in mid-March.
Luftwaffe Test Site
Test aircraft (Erprobungsflugzeug) at Peenemünde West
included the V-1 flying bomb
, the Heinkel He 176
(flown at Peenemünde on June 20, 1939), and the Messerschmitt Me 163
rocket-powered fighter (named 'Peenemünde 30' by British intelligence).
Peenemünde after World War II
In accordance with an agreement, the Red Army
destroyed the site with explosives. Most destruction of the technical facilities of Peenemünde took place between 1948 and 1961. Only the power station, the airport, and the railway link to Zinnowitz
remained functional. The plant for production of liquid oxygen
lies in ruins at the entrance to Peenemünde. Very little remains of most of the other buildings and facilities.
The Peenemünde Historical and Technical Information Centre opened in 1992 in the shelter control room and the area of the former power station and is an Anchor Point of ERIH, the European Route of Industrial Heritage. Special show-pieces are the reproduction of the Fieseler Fi-103 and the V-2 rocket.
- In Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow (1973), Peenemünde plays an important role.
- In the novels of the Colonization series, Peenemünde survives World War II and becomes a major space launch center.
- In Robert Ludlum's novel The Rhinemann Exchange (1974), Peenemünde plays an important role.
- In the comic Ministry of Space by Warren Ellis, Peenemünde is captured by the British.
- In the novel The Way the Crow Flies, Peenemünde and Mittelbau-Dora play a part in the story background.
- In the novel Fatherland, Peenemünde is the site of the Third Reich's space programme.
- In the novel Space, many scenes early in the book take place at Peenemünde
- In the novel Moonraker by Ian Fleming, in the opening chapter Bond is told of 008's safe return from a mission to Peenemünde.
- In the movie Shining Through, the character Linda Voss photographs the plans of the Peenemunde base.
- The movie Operation Crossbow, starring George Peppard and Trevor Howard, was a highly fictionalized account of the attack on Peenemünde during World War II, but still touches on the high points of the operation.
- In the game Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII, Peenemünde is a playable level.
- In the second book of the "Danger Boy" time travel series, by Mark London Williams, "Dragon Sword," Peenemünde is a key setting, references to which recur later in the series.
- In the novel Vengeance 10, by Joe Poyer, Peenemünde is the location of the A-10 program and the place from which the first Nazi Moon Shot takes place.
- Peenemunde was featured in Leiji Matsumoto's movie, The Cockpit, where a young Luftwaffe pilot has to escot a DO-200 to an atomic Bomb test site at Peenemünde.