Helmut Gröttrup

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Helmut Gröttrup
Helmut Gröttrup

(1916-02-12)February 12, 1916
DiedJuly 5, 1981(1981-07-05) (aged 65)
Alma materTechnische Hochschule Berlin (Technical University in Berlin)
OccupationEngineer and Rocket scientist
Spouse(s)Irmgard Rohe (m. 1940-1981)
ChildrenPeter Gröttrup
Ursula Gröttrup

Helmut Gröttrup (12 February 1916 – 5 July 1981) was a German engineer and rocket scientist. He was a manager for Wernher von Braun in the V-2 rocket program. During 1940, he was program manager for remote guidance and control at Peenemünde Army Research Center. In December 1940, he was made department head at Peenemünde Army Research Center under Ernst Steinhoff.

In 1946, he, along with his wife and two children, was part of the more than two thousand German specialists forcibly (at gunpoint) brought to Russia under Operation Osoaviakhim. From 1946–1953, he was in charge of the more than 170 German specialists brought to Branch 1 of NII-88 on Gorodomlya Island in Lake Seliger. The German team was indirectly overseen by Sergei Korolev, the "chief designer" of the Russia rocket program.

After returning to Germany in 1953, he made significant developments on the chip card.

Soviet program[edit]

After World War II, Gröttrup decided to work with the Soviet rocketry program, hoping to be its leader rather than an underling of von Braun (with whom he had personality conflicts).[1] From 9 September 1945 to 22 October 1946, Gröttrup worked under the supervision of Sergei Korolev in the Soviet Occupation Zone. Then during the night on 22 October 1946, all German scientists and engineers - plus equipment - were unexpectedly and forcibly (at gunpoint) moved to the USSR by 92 trains as part of Operation Osoaviakhim.[2]

Gröttrup helped Korolev with the R-1 project, a recreation of the V-2 missile using Russian manufacturing and materials. At Kapustin Yar, he helped Korolev supervise the launching of 20 rebuilt V-2 rockets. As a reality check on Korolev's missile proposals, official Dmitriy Ustinov asked Gröttrup and his small team to design several new missile systems, including the R-10 (G-1), R-12 (G-2) and the R-14 (G-4) which was similar to the A9/A10 long range missile von Braun designed during the war.{http://www.russianspaceweb.com/gorodomlya.html#g1end} Gröttrup was also asked to consult on the R-13 (G-3) cruise missile. None of these projects went beyond the design stage, but some ideas were incorporated in the R-2 and R-5 missile systems.[3]

Return to Germany[edit]

On 22 November 1953, Gröttrup was released to East Germany. For security reasons, German specialists were not allowed to work on important missile technologies after 1951, but they were kept in the USSR for a 1.5 year "cooling off" period so they could not give timely information to British Intelligence or American Intelligence. Fritz Karl Preikschat, who managed the high frequency lab under Gröttrup from 1946-1952 on Gorodomlya Island, was released in June 1952, made it to West Germany, and briefed the U.S. Air Force on the Russia rocket program. Gröttrup and a few other German scientists were kept longer, based on their positions and the concern that they would move to West Germany.[4]

Back in Germany, Gröttrup worked for SEL (Standard Elektrik Lorenz) in Stuttgart (1955–1958). In 1959, he, with Joseph Mayer, formed a company called DATEGE in the data processing industry. Later he developed the chip card together with Jürgen Dethloff. Several patents were filed in 1968 and 1969 and granted later-on, such as US3678250,[5] GB1317915,[6] GB1318850.[7] In 1970, Giesecke & Devrient took over DATEGE for developing half- and fully automated banknote processing systems (such as ISS 300 and ISS 3000), cash handling systems, and high-level features for banknote authentication. Gröttrup retired in 1980.

Further reading[edit]

  • Irmgard Gröttrup "Rocket Wife". Translated from German to English in 2004 by Martin Hollmann of "Scientists and Friends", Monterey, California. (Source of timeline)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frederick Ordway and Mitchell R Sharpe (1979). The Rocket Team. Apogee Books Space Series 36. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. ISBN 1-894959-00-0.
  2. ^ Joel Carpenter. "Guided Missiles and UFOs: A Tangle of Fear - 1937-53". Project 1947. Retrieved 2015-08-18.
  3. ^ Claus Reuter (2000-05-01). The V2 and the German, Russian and American Rocket Program. S.R. Research & Publishing. pp. 146–148. ISBN 978-1-894-64305-4.
  4. ^ Michael Uhl (2001-08-01). Stalins V-2 (in German). Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 3-7637-6214-0.
  5. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=86&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=19720718&CC=US&NR=3678250A&KC=A
  6. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?FT=D&date=19730523&DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP&CC=GB&NR=1317915A&KC=A&ND=4
  7. ^ http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=80&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=19730531&CC=GB&NR=1318850A&KC=A

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]