Oberth, Hermann Julius.

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Oberth, Hermann Julius, born  25-06-1894, in Nagyszeben, Austria-Hungary, the son of a prosperous physician, When he developed scarlet fever at a young age, his family sent him to Italy to recover. At the age of 11, his mother gave him two books by Jules Verne, From Earth to the Moon and The Journey around the Moon. Oberth became fascinated with the books and designed his first rocket three years later, at the age of 14. He saw the technical feasibility of liquid fuel rockets; such a rocket would propel by exhaust emissions. He started studie medicine in Munich, but his education was interrupted by service in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. On 06-07-1918, Oberth married Mathilde Hummel, with whom he had four children. Among these were a son who died as a soldier in World War II, and a daughter who also died during the war when there was an accidental explosion at a liquid oxygen plant where she was in August 1944. His daughter Ilse Oberth (1924-1944) was a rocket technician. She came in Hausruck on 28-04-1944 on the rocket tester “Schlier” of the concentration camp Redl-Zipf subsidiary in an explosion immediately after an A4 engine test killed. 27 people died as a result of the explosion. They were given a state funeral at Vöcklabruck-Schöndorf cemetery. In 1919, Oberth once again moved to Germany, this time to study physics, initially in Munich and later in Göttingen. After being wounded in the war, he found time to pursue his studies in astronautics. He performed experiments to simulate weightlessness and worked out a design for a long-range, liquid-propellant rocket that his commanding officer sent to the War Ministry.

The design was rejected as a fantasy. After the war Oberth sought a Ph.D. degree at the University of Heidelberg with a dissertation based on his rocket design. It was rejected by the university in 1922, but Oberth partially underwrote publishing expenses, and it appeared as Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (1923; “The Rocket into Interplanetary Space”). The book, which explained mathematically how rockets could achieve a speed that would allow them to escape Earth’s gravitational pull, gained Oberth widespread recognition.

Until 1922 he was unfamiliar with the work of Robert Goddard  in the United States and, until 1925, with that of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in the Soviet Union. Goddard died 10-08-1945, age 62, in Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky died in Kaloega, 19-09-1935, age 73.
After corresponding with both men, he acknowledged their precedence in deriving the equations associated with space flight. Oberth’s Wege zur Raumschiffahrt (1929; Ways to Spaceflight) won the first annual Robert Esnault-Pelterie–André Hirsch Prize of 10,000 francs, enabling him to finance his research on liquid-propellant rocket motors. The book anticipated by 30 years the development of electric propulsion and of the ion rocket. In 1931 Oberth received a patent for a liquid-propellant rocket from the Romanian Patent Office, and the first rocket was launched on 07-03-1931, near Berlin. In 1938 Oberth joined the faculty of the Technical University of Vienna. He became a German citizen in 1940 and in 1941 transferred to the German rocket development centre at Peenemünde, where he worked for Wernher von Braun, his former assistant. In 1938, the Oberth family left Sibiu, Romania, for good, to first settle in Austria, then in Nazi Germany, then in the United States, and finally back to a free Germany. Oberth himself moved on first to the Technische Hochschule in Vienna, Austria, then to the Technische Hochschule in Dresden, Germany. Oberth moved to Peenemünde, Germany, in 1941 to work on the Aggregate rocket program. Around September 1943, he was awarded the Kriegsverdienstkreuz I Klasse mit Schwertern (War Merit Cross 1st Class, with Swords) for his “outstanding, courageous behavior … during the attack” on Peenemünde by Operation Hydra, part of Operation Crossbow. Later he worked on solid-propellant anti-aircraft rockets at the German WASAG military organization near Wittenberg. Around the end of World War II in Europe, the Oberth family moved to the town of Feucht, near Nuremberg, Germany, which became part of the American Zone of occupied Germany, and also the location of the high-level war-crimes trials of the surviving Nazi leaders. Oberth was allowed to leave Nuremberg to move to Switzerland in 1948, where he worked as an independent consultant and a writer.
Hermann Oberth with Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1961

Oberth retired in 1962 at the age of 68. From 1965 to 1967 he was a member of the National Democratic Party, which was considered to be far right. In July 1969, Oberth returned to the United States to witness the launch of the Apollo project Saturn V rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida that carried the Apollo 11 crew on the first landing mission to the Moon. The 1973 petroleum crisis inspired Oberth to look into alternative energy sources, including a plan for a wind power station that could utilize the jet stream. However, his primary interest during his retirement years was to turn to more abstract philosophical questions. Most notable among his several books from this period is Primer For Those Who Would Govern . Oberth returned to the United States to view the launch of STS-61A, the Space Shuttle Challenger launched 30-10-1985. Hermann Oberth with his daughter Dr Roth-Oberth outside the Hermann Oberth Castle Museum in Feucht near Nuremberg in 1979

Death and burial ground of Obert Hermann Julius.

Hermann Oberth died in Nuremberg, West Germany, on 28-12-1989, age 95, in Nuremberg Bavaria, just shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain that had for so long divided Germany into two countries and is buried at the Neuer Friedhof Feucht, Nürnberger Land, Bavaria.

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