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Peenemünde ( ) is a village in the northeast of the Germanmarker (Western) part of Usedommarker island. It stands near the mouth(s) of the Peene river, on the easternmost part of the German Balticmarker coast. The area includes the 1992 :commons:Historisch-technisches Informationszentrum Peenemünde, an Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. Special show-pieces are reproductions of the V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket, which were tested in the area during World War II.

Army Research Center Peenemünde

Following earlier experiments at Kummersdorf, the Army Research Center Peenemünde ( , HVP) was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office (Heeres Waffenamt).

On April 2, 1936, the Reich Air Ministrymarker paid 750,000 reichsmarks to the town of Wolgastmarker for the whole Northern peninsula of Usedom. By the middle of 1938, the Peenemünde facility was nearly complete. The Army Research Center (Peenemünde Ost) consisted of Werk Ost and Werk Süd, while Werk West (Peenemünde West) was the Luftwaffe Test Site ( ).

HVP Organization

Dr Wernher von Braun was the HVP technical director (Dr Walter Thiel was deputy director) and there were nine major departments:
  1. Technical Design Office (Walter J H "Papa" Riedel)
  2. Aeroballistics and Mathematics Laboratory (Dr Hermann Steuding)
  3. Wind Tunnel (Rudolph Hermann)
  4. Materials Laboratory (Dr Mäder)
  5. Flight, Guidance, and Telemetering Devices ( , BSM -- Ernst Steinhoff)
  6. Development and Fabrication Laboratory (Arthur Rudolph)
  7. Test Laboratory (Klaus Riedel)
  8. Future Projects Office (Ludwig Roth)
  9. Purchasing Office (Mr Genthe)

The Measurements Group (Gerhard Reisig) was part of BSM, and additional departments included the Production Planning Directorate (Detmar Stahlknecht), the Personnel Office (Richard Sundermeyer), and the Drawings Change Service.

Guided missile development

Several WWII German guided missiles were developed by the HVP, including the V-2 rocket (A-4) (see test launches), and the Wasserfall (35 Peenemünde trial firings), Schmetterling, Rheintochter, Taifun, and Enzian missiles. The HVP also performed preliminary design of rockets for use against the United States. The Peenemünde establishment also developed other techniques, such as the first closed-circuit television system in the world, installed at Test Stand VIImarker to track the launching rockets.

Aerodynamic Institute
The supersonic wind tunnel at Peenemünde's "Aerodynamic Institute" eventually had nozzles for speeds up to the then-record Mach 4.4 (1942/1943), as well as an innovative desiccant system to reduce condensation clouding (1940). Led by Dr Rudolph Hermann who arrived in April 1937 from the University of Aachenmarker, the staff reached two hundred in 1943 and included Dr Hermann Kurzweg (University of Leipzigmarker) and Dr Walter Haeussermann.

Heimat-Artillerie-Park 11
Initially set up under the HVP as a rocket training battery (Number 444), Heimat-Artillerie-Park 11 Karlshagen/Pomerania (HAP 11) also contained the A-A Research Command North for anti-aircraft rocket testing. Chemist Magnus von Braun, youngest brother of Wernher von Braun, was employed in the Peenemünde development of anti-aircraft rockets.

Peenemünde V-2 Production Plant

In November 1938, Walther von Brauchitsch ordered construction of an A-4 Production Plant at Peenemünde, and in January 1939, Walter Dornberger created a subsection of Wa Pruf 11 for planning the Peenemünde Production Plant project, headed by G. Schubert, a senior Army civil servant. By midsummer 1943, the first trial runs of the assembly-line in the Production Works at Werke Süd were made,
but after the end of July 1943 when the enormous hangar Fertigungshalle 1 (F-1, Mass Production Plant No. 1) was just about to go into operation, Operation Hydra bombed Peenemünde. On August 26, 1943, Albert Speer called a meeting with Hans Kammler, Dornberger, Gerhard Degenkolb, and Karl Otto Saur to negotiate the move of A-4 main production to an underground factory in the Harzmarker mountains. In early September, Peenemünde machinery and personnel for production (including Alban Sawatzki, Arthur Rudolph, and about ten engineers)  were moved to the Mittelwerk, which also received machinery and personnel from the two other planned A-4 assembly sites. On October 13, 1943, the Peenemünde prisoners from the small F-1 concentration camp boarded rail cars bound for Kohnsteinmarker mountain.

Operation Crossbow

Two Polish slave janitors of Peenemünde's Camp Trassenheide in early 1943 provided maps, sketches and reports to Polish Home Army Intelligence, and in June 1943 British intelligence had received two such reports which identified the "rocket assembly hall', 'experimental pit', and 'launching tower'.

V-2 launch in Peenemünde (1943)
As the opening attack of the British Operation Crossbow, the Operation Hydra air-raid attacked the HVP's "Sleeping & Living Quarters" (to specifically target scientists), then the "Factory Workshops", and finally the "Experimental Station" on the night of August 17/18, 1943. The Polish janitors were given advance warning of the attack, but the workers could not leave due to SS security and the facility had no air raid shelters for the prisoners. According to an official German report, the raid killed 815 workers (most of them foreign prisoners of war), and Walter Thiel, the head of engine development.

A year later on July 18, August 4, and August 25, the US Eighth Air Force conducted three additional Peenemünde raids to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production.


As with the move of the V-2 Production Works to the Mittelwerk, the complete withdrawal of development of guided missiles was approved by the Army and SS in October 1943. On August 26, 1943 at a meeting in Albert Speer's office, Hans Kammler suggested moving the A-4 Development Works to a proposed underground site in Austria. After a September site survey by Papa Riedel and Schubert, Kammler designated the code name Zement ( ) in December for the site, and construction to blast an underground cavern into a cliff at lake Traunseemarker near Gmundenmarker started in the beginning of 1944. In early 1944, construction started for test stands and launching pads in the Alps (code name Salamander), with target areas planned for the Tatra Mountainsmarker, the Arlbergmarker range, and the area of the Ortlermarker mountain. Other evacuation locations included:
*Hans Lindenmayr's valve laboratory near Friedlandmarker moved to a castle near the village of Leutenbergmarker, 10 km S of Saalfeld near the Bavarian border.
*the materials testing laboratory moved to an air base at Anklammarker
*the wind tunnels moved to Kochelmarker (then after the war, to White Oak, Marylandmarker)
*Engine testing and calibration to Lehestenmarker

For personnel being relocated from Peenemünde, the new organization was to be designated Entwicklungsgemeinschaft Mittelbau ( ) and Kammler's order to relocate to Thuringiamarker arrived by teletype on January 31, 1945. On February 3, 1945, at the last meeting at Peenemünde held regarding the relocation, the HVP consisted of A-4 development/modification (1940 people), A-4b development (27), Wasserfall and Taifun development (1455), support and administration (760). The first train departed on February 17 with 525 people enroute to Thuringia (including Bleicherodemarker, Sangerhausen , and Bad Sachsamarker) and the evacuation was complete in mid-March.

After World War II

The last V-2 launch at Peenemünde was in February 1945, and on May 5, 1945, the 2nd Belorussian Front under General Konstantin Rokossovsky captured the Swinemündemarker port and Usedommarker island. Russian infantry under Major Anatole Vavilov stormed Peenemünde and found it "75 per cent wreckage" (the research buildings and test stands had been demolished.) A former adjutant at Peenemünde, Oberstleutnant Richar Rumschöttel, and his wife were killed during the attack, and Vavilov had orders to destroy the facility.

More destruction of the technical facilities of Peenemünde took place between 1948 and 1961. Only the power station, the airport, and the railway link to Zinnowitzmarker remained functional. The plant for production of liquid oxygen lies in ruins at the entrance to Peenemünde. Very little remains of most of the other buildings and facilities.

Peenemünde served as a Soviet naval and airbase until 1952 when it was handed over to the German Democratic Republicmarker. The port facilities were initially used by the East German Seepolizei (Sea Police) after new naval infrastructure was put into place. On December 1, 1956, the 1st Fleet (Flotilla) of the East German Volksmarine (People's Navy) was established at Peenemünde. The former Luftwaffe Test Site Werk West (Peenemünde West) became an airfield used by the East German Air Force starting in 1958. It was home of Jagdfliegergeschwader 9 (Fighter Squadron 9) which flew the MiG-23 fighter.

Until German Reunification in 1990 the entire northern area of the island of Usedommarker to Karlshagenmarker was a restricted area of the National People's Army (NVA).

The Peenemünde Historical and Technical Information Centre opened in 1992 in the shelter control room and the area of the former power station and is an Anchor Point of ERIH, the European Route of Industrial Heritage.

In popular culture


Explanatory notes

A different spelling is Heeresversuchsstelle Peenemünde, and Heeresanstalt Peenemünde appears on a German document with Wasserfall velocity calculations.


  1. WGBH Educational Foundation. NOVA: Hitler's Secret Weapon (The V-2 Rocket at Peenemunde) motion picture documentary (released in 1988 by VESTRON Video as VHS video 5273, ISBN 0-8051-0631-6 (minutes 20:00-22:00)
  2. Huzel. 149,225
  3. Neufeld. 88
  4. Neufeld. 119,114
  5. Neufeld. 206
  6. Neufeld. 222
  7. Warsitz, Lutz: THE FIRST JET PILOT - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz (p. 63), Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009
  8. Neufeld. 247
  9. Irving. 273,309
  10. Neufeld. 205
  11. Neufeld. 204
  12. Irving. 123,238,300; Klee & Merk. 109

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