Peenemünde was once the embodiment of high-tech perfection – earlier and more modern than anywhere else in the world. Here in the extreme north-east of Germany the first long-distance rocket was set off in 1942. Some scientists even dreamt of developing a means of transport which would catapult people into the future! The reverse side of the coin was that the people at Peenemünde were working for the war. Research workers and engineers put their knowledge at the service of the Nazi military forces, thereby making themselves a part of the German machinery of destruction. What was Peenemünde in fact? The cradle of space flight or a breeding ground for weapons of mass destruction? Visitors can look for answers in the Historical and Technical Information Centre in the old power station there. The exhibition aims to make people stop and think; not only about the history of the place but also about the responsibilities of technologists and scientists to people and the environment. Ramblers’ and cyclists’ trails link up with the remains of the military site, (most of which has been destroyed) in the midst of a rural idyll which is now part of the “nature park” on the island of Usedom.
In 1936 Peenemünde was still a village on the island of Usedom in the Baltic Sea. Then the German army took over the location. In next to no time the Germans had created an extremely modern military testing plant covering an area of around 25 square kilometres. Research work here culminated in two new weapon systems: the Fi103 flying bomb and the A4 rocket. In Nazi jargon they were called “revenge weapons”. They are better known under the notorious names, V1 und V2.
The so-called Test Stand number VII was the centrepiece of rocket testing at Peenemünde. In October 1942 a research team under the leadership of a young physicist named Wernher von Braun succeeded in making one of the most far-reaching technical breakthroughs of the 20th century: a perfect test launch of a V2. This brilliant achievement, however, cost the health and lives of thousands of prisoners-of-war who were employed here as forced labour. In June 1943 they were joined by prisoners from concentration camps for the serial production of rockets. Soon afterwards British air-raids forced the German to move production to an underground factory in the Harz region. The factory bosses brought in prisoners from the Dora concentration camp. Working conditions, sickness and hunger all took a high toll of lives. The same holds true for the weapons made here which were used against civilian targets in England, Belgium und France.
In 1945 the knowledge gained by German rocket researchers passed into the hands of the victorious powers who proceeded to make the V2 the nucleus of modern rocket technology. During the era of the communist German Democratic Republic Peenemünde was a military post and off-limits to civilians. Of the research stations in operation during the Second World War only the power station survived. But this too was closed down in 1991. Now Peenemünde is regarded as the largest technical monument in the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and houses an Historic and Technical Information centre. This extraordinary museum invites visitors to examine the past with a critical eye – a past which stretches forward right into the present day.
|Recommended duration of visit:||3 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||90 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
April to September:
November to March:
Tuesday to Sunday 10am-4pm