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English book "Rocket Wife" by Irmgard Gröttrup is now available from Scientists and Friends. $25.00. Call 831-621-8760. Following translation by Moni Wagner, "The Rocket Lady."

How did Sputnik come into existence? Were German scientists involved in the steps to its development? As wife of Helmut Gröttrup, one of Wernher von Braun’s closest associates and chief of construction at Peenemünde, Irmgard Gröttrup experienced the work, life and hardships of the German rocket scientists and engineers who were carried off to Russia after the war, and who had to endure this existence for over seven years. Her diaries are a testament documenting that time and place. Five thousand people (with families it is estimated at 20,000 people) were carried off overnight without notice—among them 200 rocket specialists: researchers, scientists, technicians, and workers, along with their families. All departed the East Zone of the divided Germany on October 22, 1946. The last train returning these exiles back to Germany did not roll back across the Frankfurt-on-the-Oder border crossing until November 25, 1953.
On the right is the island of Gorodomlja in the Seliger See about 60 miles north of Moskau on which the German Specialists worked. Living conditions were terrible. Homes had wooden floors and there was a constant shortage of food and water.
The island was encircled with barbed wire.
 Irmgard Gröttrup tells their story in a lively and engaging manner—about the fortunes of daily life and work of these deportees. She experienced the development of the so-called bowling-pin rockets, which had been anticipated by her husband as early as 1950 and had a range of 2,000 miles. She was witness under the most trying of circumstances and unbelievable shortages of materiel that accompanied this research and development as well as their daily lives, and was party to the launch of the first of these Russian-built rockets on the steeps of Kazakhstan.
Besides the military, political and technical aspects of this story, we are introduced to much that is noteworthy about life in Russia—as it pertains to the past as well as to the present. In the beginning of her enforced exile, there was a certain freedom available to her, allowing unrestricted contact with the general population. She therefore gained insight, both openly and in a very Russian sense surreptitiously, into the general outlook and psyche of around her: the military officers, party functionaries, officials in economics and industry, everyday citizens and farmers, and into the family lives of these men and women.
And we learn about the scientists themselves, their technical and scientific achievements, their zeal—obsession, perhaps—for their work, without regard to its political or human consequences, in achieving their end: the rocket.
While Germany was still suffering from the aftermath of World War I, my mother gave birth to me in Berlin. And almost immediately after I had outgrown my children’s shoes, there was war yet once again.
Between these two wars, my travel-loving parents gave me the opportunity to experience many countries and cities: Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels, Vienna, London and Amsterdam. With the innocence of youth, I became familiar with the peoples and customs of other nations and learned to love them.
After I finished my general education, I made up my mind that I wanted to become an artist. I went to the art academy despite the objections of my parents. The War, however, ended my dreams of art and beauty. Instead, I came to Peenemünde. Instead, I learned about the beauty of technology as it evolves from the mathematical clarity of its construction. I found out that men, highly qualified scientists, also had dreams—dreams of perfecting the instruments of their imagination. And I discovered that they could be artists possessed of their ideas—the conquest of space.
I married one of these obsessed men, Helmut Gröttrup. And I learned the loneliness of the women who marry such men. My son Peter was born in 1941. In 1944 I was released from the duty carrying a second child when it was born. That allowed me to go home to central Germany.
At the end of the war, the men who had these dreams of conquering space were gathered together by the Allies, along with their wives and children. One group was taken over the oceans with contracts duly signed, the other was left in Germany, only to be forcibly deported to Russia, overnight, as it were, without contracts, without recourse of any kind.
I have been writing my diary since I was thirteen. It has been my comforting companion, even during my years in Russia. My children are my greatest joy, freedom is my greatest longing.
  Under the direction of Helmut Gröttrup the German Specialists worked hard to design and teach the Russians how to design rockets. On the left is the sequence of rocket designs, starting with the R-1 which was a copy of the V-2. On the right is the R-7 which used a pressure stabilized tank structure, swiveling rocket nozzels, turbo pumps, new rocket engines, new guidance and control system and a unique conical shape developed by the Germans in Russia. 
This rocket design was used on Vostok 1 and to launch Sputnik in 1957 and was used on all future Russian boosters. It was well ahead of anything the US had at that time.  
  On the left is Soyuz being prepared for launch and on the right is Vostok 1 which was used to launch Sputnik. In 1945 Russia did not have the technology to accomplish these great feats but with the help of the hard working German Specialists they accomplished this in a period of less than 12 years. They were well ahead in the Space Race and the US had to work hard to catch up.