Bernhard Tessmann worked on the German V-2 program at Peenemunde from 1936 to 1943. His interest in the program was not driven by an interest in spaceflight as Von Braun’s was. Tessmann was interested in the development of guided missiles as weapons. His specialties were engine development, thrust measurement, and flight control systems.
Tessmann relocated to Austria after Peenemunde was bombed in 1943. From there he worked on the design of mobile launchers for the V-2, and in the development of underground assembly and launching systems, the precursor of today’s missile silos.
Tessmann was responsible for saving much of the V-2 documentation near the end of the war, as it became evident that Hitler would not surrender until Germany was all but destroyed by the oncoming American and Russian Armies. A disused iron mine was selected as a suitable storage facility for the entire library of V-2 documents and papers. After the war Tessmann informed the Americans of the cache, leading to its recovery.
When Tessmann entered the United States he was initially sent to Fort Bliss in Texas, where he continued his work on thrust measurement and control. He remained in the employ of the United States at Fort Bliss, White Sands, the Redstone Arsenal, and finally NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
While living in Huntsville Tessmann and his wife were avid supporters of the arts, and they devoted time and money to foster new programs in music and the humanities. Today, the Ilse and Bernhard Tessmann Music Scholarship offers a junior or senior at the University of Alabama Huntsville majoring in music a one year scholarship.