Standing in the middle of the dark bunker lit only by the sunlight streaming through the wide open door and three odd shaped windows, I felt not alone, but surrounded by ghosts. Ghosts of the men- German rocket scientists, U.S. Army soldiers and engineers that stood in that room, over 65 years ago and watched V2 rockets rise up from a launch pad into the desert skies. Included in this group on several of these launches was my young 21 year old Jewish father, from the German Jewish neighborhood of Washington Heights.
As I peered out through the long narrow shaped window facing the area where a V2 would have stood waiting to be launched, I imagined my handsome, tanned father standing next to me. For the first time since reading his letter written on July 31, 1946, in which he described watching a V2 test launch, I could understand his excitement. I could sense what must have been both tension and exhilaration in that concrete bunker, built to withstand the impact of a rocket if a mishap occurred during a launch. Before today I attributed his enthusiasm to boyish joy and wonderment. Today I stood in a dark room, experiencing history. I smelled it in that dusty concrete bunker still filled with instruments, analog equipment and communication and recording devices used during the rocket tests. It was rather extraordinary, experiencing on a deep, authentic level the many layers and complexities of history, politics, science, ethics and morality that our film’s story covers. Today, Private Sandy Hess’s story merged with mine in the desert of White Sands Missile Range.