1946 Letters Project

The 1946 Letters Project follows filmmaker Melinda Hess’s journey uncovering an American Space Race story through a daughter and Father story lens.


A personal journey to uncover both family and national secrets reveals the true story of how we got to the moon from the rocket slave camps of the Holocaust.


Letter From Cloudcroft, a feature length documentary film examines the nature and consequence of secrets through the story how America got to the moon from the rocket slave camps of the Holocaust. 

Inspired by the discovery of hidden letters from 1946, explored through two familial POVs separated by 70 years, the film follows daughter/filmmaker Melinda Hess’s journey to uncover the multiple truths behind her father and country’s secrets. 

The 1946 letters written by 21-year-old Private Hess provide an eye witness portal into a covert, post WWII military project involving German Nazi rocket scientists, V2 rockets and US servicemen in the American Southwest.

Dismayed by her father’s participation revealed in his writings, the filmmaker journeys through intertwined family perspectives from the past and present. Tracking incidents and leads from the letters, navigating through geographies of place, unraveling the complexities of memory, the film offers a glimpse into the challenges and rewards of personal/societal transparency and reconciliation.

Letter From Cloudcroft Documentary Advisors

Dr. Frank Mecklenburg

Dr. Frank Mecklenburg

Director of Research; Chief Archivist Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, New York City

Dr. Michael Neufeld

Museum curator, Space History, Smithsonian Institution, National Air & Space Museum

Dr. David Shneer

Director Program in Jewish Studies, Louis P. Singer Endowed Chair in Jewish History, University of Colorado, Boulder

Dr. Ronnie Grinberg

Assistant Professor at The University of Oklahoma, American History, Washington Heights Historican


Fran Sterling,

Storyteller, Holocaust educator and teacher trainer.

Darren Court

Director White Sands Missile Range Museum

Martha Shipman Andrews

Author and New Mexico State University Archivist

Gregg Drinkwater

PhD student at University of Colorado Boulder, writer and grew up at White Sands Missile Range

Project Storytellers

Melinda Hess

Melinda Hess is a Jewish artist, film editor and currently Director and producer of documentary films. Her career spans thirty years in film, video and interactive media. Her background as a film editor inspires her interactive video sensibility and narrative approach to non-narrative storytelling.

Patricia G. Antelles

An interdisciplinary emerging media creator and evangelist working on cutting edge experiential media projects. Her journey from interactive design to immersive technologies includes collaborations with diverse groups, resulting in inclusive design of projects and products. Patricia’s passion for emerging technology research, design and prototyping experiences focus on deep social impact projects.