Born in 1912, Wernher von Braun came from a conservative Junker family. As a student in Berlin, he fell in with a rather louche group of rocket enthusiasts. In the 1930s, patronage came from the army, which set up a special rocket base on the Baltic Sea, at Peenemünde, where von Braun worked from 1937 until 1945. It was there that he helped to build the A-4 (V-2) missile. Six thousand of these missiles were produced, and about 3,000 were launched against London and Antwerp in the last year of World War II. After the war, von Braun claimed that his main interest had been in space flight all along. His work for the German Army had been an unfortunate necessity because that was where resources could be obtained, and, besides, it was dangerous to resist the Nazi state. In fact, von Braun was very far from being an innocent visionary who took Nazi money in order to pursue his dream. He was a member of the Nazi Party and the SS, and he knew that he was developing weapons at Peenemünde and that the weapons were manufactured by slave labor. He had enough contact with Nazi leaders to understand quite clearly what kind of regime it was, and he helped to persuade Hitler to give top priority to the V-2. Von Braun escaped from justice and moral judgment with the help of the American authorities, who wanted to employ him in the missile and space programs.