Back to All Events

Space Hero or Nazi Villain? The Life of Wernher von Braun

  • McCarthy Center Forum 100 State Street Framingham, MA, 01702 United States (map)

Dr. Michael Neufeld, Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum

Wernher von Braun, who led both the V-2 ballistic missile and Saturn V moon rocket projects, has often been reduced to a stereotype: either as the great pioneer of space or a Nazi villain. From Dr. Neufeld’s research, a much more ambiguous and complex figure emerges, instead.

Facilitated by: Dr. Jon Huibregtse
Sponsored by: Framingham State University Arts & Ideas Program
How Much Did Wernher von Braun Know, and When Did He Know It? & Additional Resources
Event image


Dr. Michael J. Neufeld is a senior curator in the Space History Department at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. He served as chair of the department from 2007 to 2011. In 1990, Neufeld became a curator in the museum's Aeronautics Division, where he remained until early 1999, specializing in World War II history and German World War II aircraft. After transferring to the Space History Division, he took over early missile and rocket collections and Mercury and Gemini spacecraft. He has led, or contributed to, several Museum exhibits, including Air Power in World War II, Apollo to the Moon, and the Pioneers of Flight Gallery. He is lead curator of Destination Moon, which includes a travelling exhibit of the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia. He has also appeared on numerous television and radio programs, particularly regarding the Nazi rocket program and Wernher von Braun.

Dr. Jon Huibregtse is a professor of American and East Asian history in the History Department at Framingham State University. His area of expertise is American labor history, and he is currently working on a biography of Massachusetts Senator David Walsh.