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Nazis bombed own cities for target practice

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Nazis bombed own cities for target practice
A V2 rocket at the Peenemünde Historical-Technical Museum, formerly the Third Reich's testing ground for new weapons. Photo: DPA
15:10 CET+01:00
Documents going on sale in London show how the Nazis tested V2 rockets, including firing them at their own cities.

The owner of the documents, a private collector, claims that they have never been seen before and that they are the first evidence to show that the Nazis killed their own citizens as a means of testing their weaponry.

Now they are being auctioned in the UK to the highest bidder by UK-based Chiswick Auctions.

Research notes which accompany the documents say that they are final test firing reports for the V2 missile. The reports were issued to 'Kommandostelle S' a highly secretive unit about which little is known.

According to the note, the report describes how V2s were fired against German population centres during the practise phase, and SS units then went to assess the damage.

The V2 - full name Vergeltungswaffe 2 (Retribution Weapon 2) - was the world's first long range missile. The Wehrmacht (German army) fired it at Allied targets, including London, from autumn 1944 onwards, killing an estimated 9,000 people.

One of the main problems in development of the missile was its guidance system. The note describes how in initial testing rockets fired westward would sometimes land to the east of the launch site.

Although the rocket was in operation by September 1944, test firing continued until February 1945.

The SS tried to burn all documents relating to the V2 at the end of the war, so reports of this nature appear to be very rare.

Burning can clearly be seen at the edges of the newly found papers, suggesting that they were involved in a fire.

The V2 was one of the Second World War's most significant technological advancements.

Over 1,500 scientists involved in the V2 and other projects, such as rocketry pioneer Wernher von Braun, were not subject to war crimes trials at the end of the war but were taken to the USA as part of the top-secret Operation Paperclip.

There, they used their technological know-how to contribute to the NASA projects which ultimately led to the moon landings.

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