Looking at the photographs here of the newly delivered V-2 (A-4) missile being erected at the Flying Heritage Collection in Seattle, WA, USA*, I was struck at the (almost literal) belt and braces safety we are all used to. Frustrating it may be at times, but it does save lives and reduce injuries.
But I was also led to think about the safety those that built the V-2 rockets did not have. For a weapon of war, a terrible thing, it was a notable low even in such terms. V-2 missiles were built with slave labour under appealing conditions and with huge numbers who died as a result, or through murder by the instruments of the Nazi regime. Quite the contrast.
In some ways we have certainly come a long way since the mid 1940s. Both in the scope of war and the risks occurring in so-called civilised nations.
How much discussion should there be of human costs and barbarities in the display of such a machine? It is easy to focus too far either on the shiny technology, or the barbaric methodology without recognising both are significant, as it seems (and I would suggest rightly) it is impossible to separate the dreadful costs of this rocket's creation from the eventual result of a man on the moon.
Some further reading. An excellent resource on the V-2: www.v2rocket.com (with thanks to Karl Hemphill). Material on the slave labour camp http://www.dora.uah.edu/index.html and here: http://chgs.umn.edu/museum/exhibitions/ravensbruck/slaveLabor.html Contrasts in war-work from W.W.II, including the slave labour: http://www.anselm.edu/academic/history/hdubrulle/WWII/WWII2010/text/grading/food/fdwk06b.htm
* Incidentally, it would be good to hear back from FHC, if anyone's
listening, with some details of the V-2 beyond the press release. My contact details are, as ever, listed above right, JKightly AT yahoo.com.au Thanks!