Friday, November 13, 2009

The Twists and Turns of the Human Condition...

Those of you who read my blog have gotten used to the inevitability of my turning away from music, from time to time, in order to mull over the mystery of human nature; and so...
I was thinking of some of the almost incredible ironies that arose from the conflict of mid-twentieth century, and the following are tidbits of my bout with reminiscence...
After Japan was defeated in August of 1945, bringing the Second World War to its end, one of the most curious events took place in the Philippines region - with increasing unrest leaning toward independence, the American military re-armed the very same Japanese soldiers who had just laid down their arms, in order for them to become a kind of police force needed to control the mounting call for independence - all this occurring just weeks after these soldiers had been the enemy.
In 1948, the Berlin Airlift prevented Stalin from taking over all of Berlin, with many thousands of tons flown in daily at the height of this operation - the American air force counted heavily on a group of German mechanics to service the planes bringing in this incredible amount of food, fuel, medicine and other materials needed for the Berliner to survive. These mechanics just three years prior were servicing the German Luftwaffe as the war was coming to a close in the very same city called Berlin.
Operation Paperclip was the covert process created in order to spirit German scientists into America directly after Germany was defeated. Hundreds of scientists, some of genius, were brought in to America, with Soviet Russia doing the very same thing, as one of the harbingers of the coming Cold War and space race.
The reigning scientist was Wernher von Braun, who headed the development of the dreaded V-2 rocket for Hitler. Many consider von Braun to be the leading rocket engineer of his time, perhaps of the entire century. Here was a man who became a member of the SS, Hitler's personal army, and the very same man who was responsible for America's landing humans on the Moon. I still have a clear picture in my mind of this man acting like a cheer-leader when that first man landed on the Lunar surface.
Incidentally, I think few realize that von Braun, coming from a wealthy family, was thinking of becoming a composer in his early years. He played both 'cello and piano with considerable skill, and for a time studied with the great German composer Paul Hindemith.

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