Kurt Debus served the Third Reich as Director of Flight Tests for the V-1 and V-2. He was a member of the Nazi Party and the SS, and before the war a member of the SA, the paramilitary arm of the Nazi Party which preceded the SS.
Debus was one of the German rocket specialists who surrendered to the Americans in Austria at the end of World War II and was sent to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip with his Party membership and longstanding service to the Nazis carefully excised from his record.
After time at Fort Bliss and the Redstone arsenal Debus was based in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he designed the launch facilities for numerous Army rockets before the team he oversaw was transferred to NASA. He later designed the launch facilities for the Saturn rockets.
When the Cape Canaveral facilities were named as NASAs Launch Operations Center Debus was named as its first director, a position he held until his retirement in 1974. Throughout his career he published numerous papers, won many honors and distinction, and held many honorary posts and degrees.
But when Kurt Debus was first interrogated by the US Army prior to his being approved for entry to the United States via Operation Paperclip, the report read, in part. “He should be interned as a menace to the security of the Allied Forces.” The end of the World War and the birth of the Cold War in the dawn of the atomic age created the need for Operation Paperclip, the full truth of which is still being revealed.