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Wernher von Braun was born in Wirsitz, Prussia in 1912. He came from a prussian noble family, and his father served as the local mayor. He studied at Heidelburg University (1930 - 1933), and became a renowned figure in the ammatuer rocket society there. He began experimenting with long range rockets in his spare time and in 1932 he wrote a science paper, entitled "Journey to the Moon", the paper gave a detailed run down of what would be needed to create a lunar rocket, and included a detailed diagram.
In 1933 he left University, and formed his own rocketry society. In 1934 Adolf Hitler came to power, Wernher at first tried to cooperate with the regime, however due to the increased arrests of intellectuels he and his family emigrated to the US in 1935, settling in Maynard, Massacheusetts. von Braun founded another rocketry society and began testing prototypes of larger and larger rockets. His programme soon drew the interest of the US government and in 1937 he was given government funding, and a testing ground at Cape Burrad. He and a team of 64 scientists and engineers were soon developing rockets that had a range of 20 miles.
By February 1941 war had become imminent and von Braun and his team were seconded to the army. Their base at Cape Burrad was closed and they were moved to a secret base in the middle of the Nevada desert. His team were ordered to fit their rockets with weapons and hit targets miles away. von Braun developed his A (Attack) series rockets and spent the next 3 years testing them. They were first used in March 1944 in Europe.