Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
aviation, time, military, technology, production
German military technology in World War II was among the best of the major warring powers and in many cases it was the groundwork for postwar innovations that permanently changed global warfare. Three of the most important projects undertaken, which were not only German initiatives and therefore perhaps among the most valuable programs for both the major Axis and Allied nations, include the rocket, jet, and nuclear programs. In Germany, each of these technologies was given different levels of attention and met with varying degrees of success in their development and application. By the end of the war, both rockets and jets had been used in combat, but nuclear weapons, despite the work of some of the best nuclear scientists in the world, never came to fruition. For each program, the level of success depended on several different factors, such as how the war was going, the effect of Allied air raids, and Germany’s industrial capacities. The course of the war in particular decided the extent of investment in each project. It influenced those within research and industry with regard to lobbying for more development support and also those in the Nazi military and leadership, who heeded such calls as it became more and more difficult for the German military to win using conventional weapons and tactics. But Germany lost the war, which meant that none of these technological developments achieved the desired goal. Not only that, but they also represent a ton of time, resources, and manpower that were wasted instead of more practically applied to other military deficiencies, such as the Air Force’s lack of long-range bombers. With all of this in mind, it begs the 3 question: why were revolutionary technology projects given such high levels of priority and attention? Moreover, how rational was it of those involved in the decision-making process in German technological research and development to invest in these technologies? The clear, present-day answer is that it was very irrational, given the many factors that inhibited the success of the programs. However, the pressure of a possible, looming defeat in a World War might explain why this modern conclusion would not have been as easy to reach during the war as it is now.
Lutze, Max, "The German Rocket Jet and the Nuclear Programs of World War II" (2016). Honors Theses and Student Projects. 179.