Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Paperclip Scientist lived in my house?!?!?!

It appears that might be the case!

We had dinner at my parents' house last night, and my dad told me something interesting. He was out in the yard this morning talking to our 88 year old neighbor, and the guy started telling him about a German rocket scientist that came over after the war who had lived in our house. Apparently he had worked on the V-1 before coming here to work at White Sands and Huntsville. The name he gave sounded phonetically like "vike-und", although my dad didn't get him to spell it out.

I was pretty excited... but you can't just take this stuff for granted. So I did a little searching and turned up Dr. Heinrich J. Weigand, who came over in 1947, and worked at the aeronautical research laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (you know, the same base where German scientists allegedly did aeronautical research on the Roswell crash debris which was brought to Wright Patterson in 1947). After that, he worked at Holloman Air Force Base (very close to White Sands). He moved to this area in 1958, and died in 1992. Weigand is mentioned in this NASA history, and he's identified on this website as one of the Project Paperclip scientists. Now, since apparently some kids still live in the area and might run across this, I want to emphasize that even if he's a Paperclip scientist, that doesn't mean he was a Nazi. Even von Braun - whose history is more controversial than most of these guys - is likely not to have been much of a Nazi. Speaking of von Braun - the fact that Weigand worked on the V-1 and on rockets at White Sands makes it extremely likely that he knew von Braun.

His obituary is below. I still haven't confirmed that he actually lived in my house. But this neighbor of ours seems to have gotten lots of the details right, it's clear he lived in Arlington. The second death notice has the church where the memorial was held, which is very close to my parents' house and just a mile and a half from my current apartment. It seems odd that he would know the guy's background so well and then just make up that he lived nearby. But I still haven't confirmed that.

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