Soviet Rocket Technology in Historical Context – Deconstructing the Myth of Operation Osoaviakhim

Research and Translation by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD 

Author’s Note: US Cold War rhetoric is premised upon the machinations of US anti-intellectualism. This routine distortion and misrepresentation of history has a strand of rightwing Judeo-Christian ideology running through its core, as the Soviet Union is continuously depicted as ‘evil’ and being of the ‘devil’. This American stupidity reaches its apex of hysteria and sheer stupidity in the post-WWII era, where the USSR is equated with the atrocities of Nazi Germany, with no difference between Stalin and Hitler, whilst laughingly ignoring the two crucial historical points that invalidate this perspective, namely that a) the USSR was a staunch ally of the West against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan both before and during WWII, and b) the USSR suffered between 27-40 million casualties during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), inflicted by the invading forces of Nazi Germany and her allies (a brutal and genocidal attack spiritually and materially supported by the Roman Catholic Church), which was assisted by fascist insurgency movements throughout Eastern Europe. Indeed, Modern Russian research suggests that the population of the USSR dropped by 35 million between 1941-1945 beyond that usually expected in peace-time. In the US just a handful of people died in these years (a family was killed by an exploding Japanese war balloon), whilst tens of thousands were killed and wounded in the UK. The stupidity of US bourgeois disinformation aside, it is clear that the USSR paid the highest price in the war against international fascism, and its sacrifice laid the foundation for the eventual Western victory in Europe. Far from being the same as Nazi Germany (as US anti-intellectualism suggests), the USSR was in fact its greatest victim! There is another difference between the US and USSR. Whereas the Americans have always supported fascist movements over popular Socialist uprisings, the USSR always resisted fascist and capitalism! Whereas the Americans welcomed Nazi War Criminals into the US with open arms simply because they held anti-Socialist attitudes, those German scientists caught in the Soviet controlled sector of Germany were clearly informed that they were ‘War Criminals’ whose crimes would usually attract long prison sentences or a quick death sentence. These ex-Nazis were given the third option of ‘repaying the people’ by volunteering their knowledge, expertise, and experience in rocket design and usage. Bias and incorrect US Cold War narratives give the false impression that both the US and USSR ‘benefitted equally’ from captured Nazi German technology. This is incorrect. The Soviet Union had had a rocketry programme for decades prior to WWII, and were busy developing their ‘Socialist’ approaches to defence and space exploration. It was the United States that had virtually ‘NO’ rocketry programme prior to WWII, and which had the most to benefit from the science of Hitler’s regime! Where Hitler called upon the eradication of what he considered the ‘racially inferior’, Lenin – just after the 1917 Revolution – called upon ALL Soviet people to go home and ‘think’, and write and draw their ideas in their kitchens and living rooms! In the meantime, the US continued to persecute and lynch its own ethnic communities, whilst keeping its working class in perpetual poverty and starvation… Reliable Russian language narratives give only a passing acknowledgement of ex-Nazi German involvement in rocketry development. Their presence is not denied, but they only numbered a few thousand, whilst tens of thousands of Soviet scientists worked on the Soviet Space Programme and quite literally ‘eclipsed’ any contributions made by Hitler’s scientists. The Soviets triumphed in the Space Race for exactly the same reason that China is triumphing today – namely because of the application of Scientific Socialism (I.e. Marxist-Leninism) – which has no relation whatsoever to Hitler’s fascistic National Socialism! ACW (5.5.2020) 

May 13th, 1946 saw the green-light given by the Council of Ministers on the development of missile weapons in the Soviet Union. According to the document, design bureaus and research institutes on rocket technology were created in the country. When developing missiles, the German models Fau-2, Wasserfall, Reintochter, and Schmetterling were to be taken as the basis – as following extensive discussion and research – it was agreed that these designs could augment the already existing Soviet Rocket Programme. In the fall of 1947, the Kapustin Yar testing ground was fully ready for the first test launches of developed Soviet ballistic missiles. Captured German scientists – who were consider minor War Criminals – were given the chance of working-off their crimes by assisting the USSR – although their contribution was minimal. The Soviet Space Programme was certainly not premised upon the ‘aggressive’ and ‘destructive’ technology of Nazi Germany. The German scientists were asked to study Soviet rocket designs and where applicable, offer constructive suggestions for improvement. Simply replicating Hitler’s fascistic designs was ideologically forbidden in the USSR. These German scientists and their families were treated with civility and re-educated through Socialist labour and many became loyal citizens of the USSR.  

The USSR Space Programme began in 1921 with the founding of the Gas Dynamics Laboratory within the Red Army, which in 1933 became part of the Reactive Institute at the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry of the USSR, and from 1955 to 1991, the USSR Ministry of General Engineering. This coordinated the work of all enterprises and scientific organizations, engaged in the creation of space rocket technology. Much progressive work in rocketry occurred between 1933-1953 – the last 20 years of the life of Joseph Stalin. The presence of a handful of ex-Nazi German scientists in the USSR after WWII offered little in the way of progression. Of course, the US Cold War ideologues would have you believe that the so-called ‘Operation Osoaviakhim’ of late 1946 was some kind of genocidal ‘rounding-up’, but the reality was that these men and women ‘asked’ to be relocated away from the Western allies, as they were afraid that the British (or Americans) might hold them responsible for the V-1 and V-2 terror-bombing campaigns of London and beyond.  They and their families quietly packed all their belongings and were resettled in purpose-built towns and cities specially designed for Soviet intellectuals. Compared to the poverty and starvation in the capitalist countries, these Germans had a good life. They worked hard, and they worked well, but it is incorrect to suggest that they were the inspiration behind the Soviet Space Programme. We knew that Hitler had fired a V-2 rocket into space in 1942, but we also knew that ‘slaves’ built his rockets who were worked to death and/or executed when their labour was no longer required. No – the Soviet Space Programme – according to Comrade Joseph Stalin – was to be built upon sound Socialist principles and nothing else. This is how the USSR beat the United States time and again. This is a short list of our Space Race successes: 

Launch of the first artificial earth satellite on October 4, 1957. 

Launch on November 3, 1957, a second satellite with a living creature on board. 

The first image of the far side of the moon via moon-3 in 1959. 

The first manned flight into space on April 12, 1961. 

Man’s first spacewalk March 19, 1965. 

The world’s first planet rover – Lunokhod-1 1970. 

The first soft landing on Venus – Venus-7 1970;  

Creation of the first orbital station << Salyut-1 >> in orbit of the earth the first soft landing on Mars – Mars-3 1971. 

Creation of the first multimodular orbital station Mir in orbit in 1986. 

Russian Language References:Космическая_программа_СССР

English Language Reference:

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