So Britain's fury as the Germans name a school after the inventor of the V2 is understandable..
The V2 kindergarten: British fury as Germans name school after maker of WWII terror rocket
by ALLAN HALL
5th February 2008
Rocket man: Klaus Riedel invented the V2 in WWII
Carnage: The aftermath of a V2 attack in West London, 1944. The V2 was Germany's last attempt to bring the British to their knees - but the British still defiantly remained steadfast
He was a rocket engineer working for the Nazis, helping create one of the most terrifying weapons of the Second World War.
But the infamy of Klaus Riedel would surely have been lost to all except historians of Hitler's atrocities but for the bizarre decision by a German town to name one of its schools in his honour.
Riedel was head of the V2 laboratory at Peenemunde on the Baltic, where the so-called "wonder weapons" which killed nearly 3,000 Britons in the closing months of the war were designed.
In all, the rockets claimed 30,000 lives in Europe and Southern England. And it is reckoned 20,000 slave labourers at the underground factory of Mittelbau-Dora in central Germany died making the rockets.
But Riedel's grim contribution to the 2,386mph V2, which carried a ton of high explosive and was meant to bring Britain to its knees, seems to have been ignored by councillors in Bernstadt, eastern Germany, where the old Middle School has become the Klaus Riedel School.
The decision has caused anger in Britain and left many Germans aghast. Henry Bellingham, the Conservative justice spokesman, condemned Bernstadt's "insensitivity".
Blast site: The scene of devastation in West London in 1944 after the first V2 hit - it demolished 6 houses and left a huge crater
V-2 rockets were responsible for the deaths of nearly 30,000, including those who were forced to build them
Mr Bellingham, whose stepfather was killed when the V2's predecessor, a V1 - or "doodlebug" - landed on the Brigade of Guards Chapel in London during a remembrance service in June 1944, said: "At a time in Europe when we are all supposed to be moving on, I find it grossly insensitive to the memory of many thousands of dead Britons, not to mention slave labourers, to name a school after a man who helped design these rockets."
The first of the 1,200 V2s that were to land on Britain fell in Staveley Road, Chiswick, West London, on September 8, 1944, killing three people and demolishing six houses. It left a crater 30ft across and 8ft deep.
Hitler had assembled the best brains in Germany - men who would later be recruited by the United States for its space programme - to design the rockets he hoped would turn the tide of the war.
Today, it is inconceivable for a town in Germany to name something after a well-known Nazi, but Bernstadt seems to think Riedel - as a technocrat who died in a car crash in 1944 - is not controversial.
Klaus Riedel - pictured here suited and surrounded by Nazis - was a rocket pioneer who worked on the V-2 programme
The remains of a V-2 engine, after impact
The town already has a memorial to him and a museum in his honour. But naming a school after such a man is a step too far for many.
Astrid Guenther-Schmit, an MP for the pacifist Green Party, said: "The kids on the school homepage were totally uncritical and naive about his past.
"There was no mention of the dead, no mention of the consequences of making this weapon.
"After protests, the mayor made the school write in the sentence: 'These rockets were fired from Peenemunde on England and many innocent people were killed'."
Harald Tresp, a biographer of Riedel, said: "He was no Nazi, but he knew exactly what these rockets were going to be used for - and that was the final victory of Nazism."
Diagram of the V-2 rocket