When histories and memories collide: How Huntsville made sense of its German rocket team’s Nazi past

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Alabama Department of Archives and History continues ArchiTreats: Food for Thought, a series of  talks on Alabama history at the Alabama Department of Archives and History on Thur., Feb. 19, at noon. Monique Laney presents When Histories and Memories Collide: How Huntsville Made Sense of its German Rocket Team’s Nazi Past.

In late July 1969, Huntsville joined the world in celebrating the successful return of the Apollo 11 astronauts from their moon landing. The once small, cotton mill town had added reason to celebrate because the rocket specialists who had made this enormous Cold War feat possible were their neighbors and friends. Many members of Wernher von Braun’s German rocket team were brought to the United States after World War II because of their expertise gained developing the V-2 rocket for the Nazi regime. Years later in the 1980s, one of the team members would be accused of war crimes. This month, Monique Laney will describe how Huntsville’s diverse community responded to this news and tried to grapple with its meaning, shedding light on the intersections of German and U.S. history and memory.

Monique Laney moved back to Alabama to join the faculty of the History Department at Auburn University last fall. She was raised by an American father and German mother first in Tuscaloosa, AL, and later in Frankfurt, Germany, and earned her Master’s Degree at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in 1995, and her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas in 2009. Dr. Laney has received multiple prestigious national awards for her scholarship, has published two articles on her research, and has presented her work at national and international conferences. She is the author of German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era, which is scheduled for publication by Yale University Press in June 2015.




This ArchiTreats presentation made possible by the Friends of the Alabama Archives and a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The public is invited to bring a sack lunch and enjoy a bit of Alabama history. Complimentary beverages are provided. Admission is always FREE! To view the full 2015 ArchiTreats schedule visit www.archives.alabama.gov.