Context: novel main page; part 1 of this chapter.
This is the story US taking charge of the spoils of war: German engineers transferred to US as prisoners, along with German weapons design documents & actual physical missile hardware. Initially to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas; later to Huntsville, Alabama, where they will begin settling down.
A lot of text is devoted to prisoners' hardships because (apart from their status as prisoners):
- They were brought without any documentation but 'With the knowledge of the President.' To get the paperwork straightened, they will eventually be driven in a bus to Mexico without exit formalities, & immediately reenter on temporary permits - to be regularized in 3 months!
- Their wives are still in Germany. This will let the story wander for a while over ruined Germany immediately after war - a lot of broken families & misery.
There are 6 major characters that we'll likely see more of in later chapters:
- Prof Stanley Mott & his wife Rachel Lindquist. We meet Rachel for the first time in this chapter. We're also told Mott is "a genius in aviation" & "he wasn’t a real professor, only an assistant". The couple will help German prisoners settle down.
- Dieter Kolff, the brilliant German mechanical genius captured in ch 1, & his wife Liesl Koenig. We met both in ch 1; here they will be reunited after much drama.
- General Helmut Funkhauser, one of the more brutal Hitler men we met in ch 1, & among the prisoners. He will be a man to reckon with in US aviation industry by the end of this chapter - "a troubleshooter for Allied Aviation, specializing in their rocket and space ventures".
- von Braun, the brilliant German ideas man whose fate was indeterminate at the end of ch 1 is among the prisoners.
- Union of Dieter & Liesl drags on for a while because she doesn't have marriage papers. "Marriage papers"! Sounds weird in India where hardly anyone has marriage papers. In fact, court registration is looked down upon & signifies rebellion.
- Once US Army decides to get into rockets in a big way, they choose Huntsville, Alabama, for building their big facility.
"Because Senator John Sparkman lives in Huntsville."
I thought this happened only in India!
- "Hitler appreciated me for the same reason your people do. I can fix rockets, that's all."
- "We are all Americans now, even General Funkhauser, and I want to hear no more about the past... Now we must occupy ourselves with other matters."