Germans shun space race legacy

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Few Germans know the global space race started on a remote and sandy island off the Baltic coast, an unremarkable place with wide open skies and a carpet of pine trees.

But it was at the Peenemuende testing site in 1942 that a team of engineers under Wernher von Braun laid the foundations for sending man to the moon and the Cold War missile race. They were testing the world's first long-range ballistic missiles for the Nazis.

Germans don't celebrate the site because of the moral ambiguity at the heart of one of the last century's most significant technological breakthroughs....

In many countries, the site would be a focus for national celebration but Peenemuende's sober Historical Technical Information Centre battles even to secure public funding.

"In Germany, we cannot have the same attitude towards our technical history as in Britain or the United States because of the historical associations," said Muehldorfer-Vogt, pointing to a fierce row over a school name to illustrate his point.

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