Desperation and Delusions of Grandeur

In the week ending on 24 January 1945, shots of the V2 rocket flickered across Germany’s cinema screens on the Deutsche Wochenschau newsreel. The grandiose presentation compensated for the poor quality of the film material. To the music of Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, the speaker announced: “The slender body of steel rises to the stratosphere at lightning speed.

The images of the supposed “miracle weapon” were intended to keep the German public hoping for a turn in the tide of the war. In fact, the promises made by the Nazi propaganda clashed starkly with reality. The rocket manufactured by inmate forced labourers in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp remained a pure weapon of terror, without military significance. In England and Belgium it nevertheless cost thousands their lives.

(Marvin Keitel)

Source: Die Deutsche Wochenschau, edition no. 749 of 18 January 1945 (Bundesarchiv Berlin).

Reference: Heinz Dieter Hölsken, Die V-Waffen: Entstehung – Propaganda – Kriegseinsatz, Stuttgart 1984.