This coat-of-arms of Dr. Wernher von Braun (1912-1977)
is a copyrighted image drawn by the renowned heraldic artist
Carl-Alexander von Volborth (1919-2009).
Argent, three fusils conjoined pallwise Gules.
[Crest: Two ostrich feathers between three fish naiant, all Argent.]
Argent, three lozenges in pairle Gules.
[Crest: Two ostrich feathers between three fish erect, their heads
in base, radiating from the helm. Mantling: Gules and Argent.]
German blazon, courtesy of Jochen Wilke :
Silber, drei rote Wecken im Dreipass.
(In Anglo-French style: Silber, drei Wecken im Dreipass Rot.)
In the Scottish Heraldry Forum, Karlheinz Zrenner reports that the above crest is actually registered with fishes Gules. He also points out the existence of the quartered arms at right for a branch of the von Braun family, described in Johann Siebmacher's Armorial (1605) with a crest of different tinctures (helmet Or, ostrich feathers Gules, fishes Argent, sinister mantling Or and Sable):
Quarterly; [1&4] Argent, three fusils conjoined pallwise Gules;
[2&3] per bend sinister Sable and Or, a lion rampant counterchanged.
As Guy H. Power has pointed out, the blazon "courteous sinister" posted by Zrenner is simply the mirror image of the normal shield described above. We thank both Guy and Karlheinz for this clarification.
Dr. Wernher von Braun
The rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was a German baron (Freiherr) born in Wirsitz (Posen) on March 23, 1912, the second of 3 sons, with an impressive pedigree. His father Magnus (1877-1972) served as Minister of Agriculture in the Weimar Republic during the 1930's. His mother, Emmy von Quistorp (1876?-1959) had a father (Wernher von Quistorp, 1856-1908) who could trace his ancestry to the Countess Irmgard de Rietberg, a descendant of King Philippe III of France, and also to Helen of Brunswick (born c.1367) who descended from the King of Denmark Valdemar I the Great (1131-1182) through two separate lineages (Swedish royalty on one side, Danish royalty on the other). On the other hand, Emmy's mother, Marie von Below, was a descendant of both King Robert III of Scotland (1337-1406) and King Edward III of England (1312-1377).
Wernher von Braun joined the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR) at the age of 19. He received his bachelor's degree from the Berlin Institute of Technology at the age of 20 and, two years later, obtained his doctorate in physics from the University of Berlin. Only 2 years later, in 1936, von Braun was already directing Germany's military rocket development program, building weapons for the Third Reich at the Peenemünde Rocket Facility, against his better judgement. In the process, he had occasions to don the black uniform of an SS Sturmbahnführer. When the first V2 rocket hit London, he quipped to his colleagues: "The rocket worked perfectly except for landing on the wrong planet." In May 1945, near Oberjoch the entire VfR team surrendered to the Americans and would pledge to help with the early US space program, first in Fort Bliss, TX (1945) then in White Sands, NM (from 1946 to 1950). The leading charisma of von Braun was intrumental in creating the goodwill which made this quick transfer of allegiances possible. (Ironically, von Braun and the other German designers of the infamous V2 rocket had previously built on the research of the undisputed American pionneer of rocket science: Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard.)
In Landshut, on March 1, 1947, Wernher von Braun married the young Maria von Quistorp (b.1928-06-10) of whom he would have 3 children, Iris (b.1948-12-09), Magrit (b.1952-10-21) and Peter Constantin (b.1960-06-02). Wernher died from cancer on June 16, 1977, in Alexandria (Virginia) and was survived by his wife, Maria von Quistorp von Braun, his three children, his older brother and his younger brother, Magnus (b.1919).
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