9.12 Why has Wernher von Braun’s name been removed from German schools?

IN A NUTSHELL: Because of his Nazi past, not because of any suspicion that he might have faked the Moon landings. And his name was removed from just one school.

THE DETAILS: Some conspiracy theorists allege that some German schools that had changed their name to honor Project Apollo’s master rocket designer, Wernher von Braun, have since changed it again to remove all mention of his name. This is said to have occurred because the schools discovered that the Moon landings were faked with the German scientist’s help. These schools, however, are not identified by the promoters of this theory.

Actually, only one German school that was named after von Braun is known to have subsequently changed its name again: a Gymnasium (high school) in Friedberg, Bavaria, was named after him in 1979, shortly after his death in 1977.

In 2012 this Wernher-von-Braun-Gymnasium was renamed to Staatliches Gymnasium Friedberg, but not due to von Braun’s involvement with the Apollo program: the name was changed because von Braun had been a military member of the Nazi Party during World War II as a rocket scientist. Before surrendering to US troops in 1945, he had designed rocket weapons such as the V-2 for the German army.*

* "Tut alles, damit dieser Name verschwindet", by Stefan Mayr, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23 March 2012.

Figure 9.12-1. Wernher von Braun, in civilian dress, next to Nazi officers in Germany, March 1941.