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My grandfather, Prof. Dr. D. J. Edronkin was an engineer, but it seems that just not one of any sort.
He was my father's father, a secretive person who wrote over 38 papers and books, some of which I have actually seen, he had two degrees, managed some big installations, and did a lot of other things (See Dimitri and Dimitri, the Survivalist Counterfeiters).
As I have described extensively, I come from a banking family of Jewish - Christian origin that was almost exterminated during WWII (see The Skowronek Bankers) and it was family that extended its ties thorough several European countries before the war. This includes Germany and naturally, we had several victims of our own, exterminated by the Nazis, that lived in that country and were by all means and purposes, Germans. So, it is perhaps a little bit strange - it is to me, really - that we also had family on "the other side."
In some texts I described how marriages have been traditionally arranged pragmatically among the extended family, for business purposes (see Guttle Schnapper) or looking towards the material and cultural improvement of the group, no matter what.
Also, being this one an old family, there are stories in which relatives quite literally have become become mortal enemies (see Joćo II, the Perfect) and so, the story of my grandfather on the side of my father is not really that odd, but can be resumed in the question that someone asked me sometime ago: What does a former WWII German "rocket scientist" has to do with a family of Jewish bankers?
But that is the truth: I descend from Jewish bankers, victims of the Nazis and the Soviets, and from a scientist that according to existing documents that you will see in this article, took part in the development of the "Wunderwaffen" in the form of the BMW003 jet engine and the second-generation fighter bombers for which the turbine was intended.
|D.J. Edronkin, 1945.
|A tree with different frames of reference - P. Edronkin.
This is his professional certificate, made by Allied authorities of the special commission for scientists after WWII; he is cited as having written 36 scientific papers. Later - possibly in Argentina - the count reaches at least 38. The documents he presented in Argentina are in general a little bit more precise regarding his work, plus he commented that he was in possession of schematics and pieces of German WWII aircraft technology, especially jet engines. He also said that he was able to design and built a complete jet turbine engine, very likely based on the BMW003 design in which he had been involved before 1945.
I remember having seen "things from aircraft" (i.e. aircraft parts) at my grandmother's house as a kid, but have no idea whether these had anything to do with the BMW003 since my father, as he reached adulthood and began pondering studying medicine, also considered a career in aviation, according to what he told me; so, those things, if they really were aircraft components could have been study materials or souvenirs from an airfield.
As an aviator myself, I know that getting outdated, failed or retired stuff from aircraft is a relatively common practice; you can get from instruments to seat belts or engine components in that way. After you use them for your studies, these might be left at home serving as tools, decorations, etc.
Later my father declined the aviation career path since in order to work at the time, he was required to join the Peronist party - General Peron was Argentina's president at the time - and went on with medicine until he graduated and began working as an MD. My father considered that join-the-party-or-forget-it requirement too idiotic and "a turn back to the past", having endured both Stalin and Hitler with similar requirements just a few years before, so he really loathed Peron and his wife Evita and couldn't even stand the idea of becoming a Peronist even if just on paper.
And here you have a copy of grandfather's resume, written in 1948 shortly after he reached Argentina. While it would be easy to translate it, I will let you attempt to read it in Spanish because I want him from the past to tell you in the present what he actually was up to.
Resume of D.J. Edronkin, page 1.
Resume of D.J. Edronkin, page 2.
Resume of D.J. Edronkin, copy of page 1 with annotations.
Also, here it is a fairly similar resume written in German, certainly after the end of WWII. It was written on both sides of one sheet of paper and corrections are evident. Looks like a sketch of a resume but it actually was one: the phrase "Bitte wenden!" written with pencil - which means "please change" or "please turn [the page] around" - indicates that it was intended for actual use. Today no one would make such an untidy presentation, but we have to consider that in the aftermath of WWII resources such as paper would have been rather scarce, so it is actually quite probably that this document was really destined for official use.
Another thing to remark is that in the German version D.J. was less specific than in the Spanish resume he later presented in Buenos Aires; so, for some reason, his choice of showing his cards was different in each case. My guess is that he believed that it was safer for him not to be too specific in Germany, but that it would help him much more to be more descriptive in Spanish because the presumed intentions of both audiences would have been different. For once, he probably knew that the Argentinians were keen on acquiring certain German technologies that the U.S. and U.K. already had obtained via operation codenamed Paperclip as well as other intelligence initiatives.
Allied technology- gathering operations and policies at the end of the war
In particular, AVIA 54/1403 - a British document - pondered about the dangers of leaving German scientists on their own in post-war Germany due to the risk that they or their knowledge might fall into Soviet hands. As the BBC reports on UK 'fears' over German scientists, the United Kingdom considered forcibly employing some German scientists, while encouraging the rest to work in any nation of the British empire taking into account that British intelligence found that scientists were still in touch after the end of the war, that there was apparently no way to disperse them or make them cut their ties, they did not have any interest in a renewed German world power but would act as a group, meaning that wherever one would go, the others would follow.
The Brits believed that German technology, particularly in aviation, would play a key role for a long time: "If, therefore, German war scientists, in particular in the aeronautical field, are allowed to continue in application to their subject, they will constitute an extremely important factor in the war potential of the nation which utilises their services," as it is quoted in the aforementioned BBC article.
Whether my grandfather presented this document, evidently targeted to the U.S. military forcer or not, I have still no idea. Anyway, we know that eventually he moved to Argentina, as did most of those that worked on the BMW003 engine and the Focke Wulf staff.
During his whole life D.J. was rather secretive - and a little paranoid thanks to Lenin, Stalin and Hitler, perhaps -, up to the point that secrecy about his family was the highest among all other related families (See Edronkin) but we know that had at some point papers indicating that he would move - or was trying to so - to Australia, and he travelled to France as well. Apparently he was essentially sending his resume to different countries and Argentina was the first to accept since the country was in the process of building up a potent air force - arguably the most powerful in the Southern hemisphere - not in the best terms with the U.S. and was interested in developing advanced combat aircraft on her own. The whole design team of Kurt Tank, plus others, moved en masse.
Resume of D.J. Edronkin, German version, copy of page 1 with annotations.
Resume of D.J. Edronkin, German version, copy of page 2 with annotations.
German WWII technology in video
These are some videos depicting weapons systems developed as concepts, prototypes and some actually deployed during the war. We should be grateful that many of them did not. Had the Nazi regime had one or two more years of life span probably the conflict would have ended quite differently. In some of these videos I would do off with the music, any UFO conspiracy theories and the eventual swastikas but anyway, they have pretty good visual depictions, and will give you a taste of what German scientists were up to. Some of these projects were designed to be used along with the BMW003 engine.
Secret Luftwaffe Aircraft of WWII.
Luftwaffe's experimental aircraft.
Luftwaffe 46' experimental and planned aircraft of Germany.
Dornier Do 335 Pfeil
German secret weapons
Arado Ar 234 & Variants
Focke Wulf Triebflugel
Color images of German VTOLs
There are still many documents that I have to analyse in detail, but suffice to say that in Buenos Aires, unlike most immigrants D.J. got "a very good job, in his profession" according to my father, but couldn't adapt to a quiet life after surviving WWII; he never quite said what the job was about. By then so father actually wasn't much in touch with Dimitri Sr.
They were not in the best of terms apparently because due to the fact that D.J., not wanting to develop all his professional and academic possibilities - like if he had decided that he had enough of that -, in his later years really lived below his true possibilities and hence, wouldn't help much Dimitri junior enter medical school which, by all and any standards, is an expensive career. Dimitri paid for his career as an MD with his own pocket.
Here you have a copy of the presentation of DJ's resume at Fabricaciones Militares, Buenos Aires, 1948, which is the state-run research and development military establishment of Argentina. This presentation includes a list of 38 D.J.'s research papers. The ones found at the bottom of the list mention his work on turbine overheating problems and axial compressors.
Between 1943 and 1945, D.J. had worked at the BMW company precisely in the design and construction of aviation engines - I have seen his contract and some other papers that I still have to restore and digitize -, compressors and so on. BMW at the time was developing the 003 jet engine; between 1942 and 1943 the development of the engine had stalled due to overheating of the axial-flow compressors. It was a complex design, ahead of its time.
Meanwhile, the British were working on centrifugal jet engines such as those later used by the Gloster Meteor, which did not have such problems but were less efficient and more voluminous. The German JUMO004 and the BMW003 were far more advanced and promised a better future development road due to their characteristics, and in fact, these engines later gave rise to a full family of direct descendants like the French Atar 9 (see Aerospace and us).
The problem was that the materials available at the time did not resist the higher temperatures and pressures found on those axial-flow designs, and even after the German researchers. It seems that at the time D.J. began working with BMW, the company was precisely looking for researchers and engineers to solve their BMW003 temperature problems.
Letter of presentation of D.J.'s resume for the Director of Fabricaciones Militares.
List of 38 research papers authored by D.J Edronkin.
At about the same time, around 1948, Kurt Tank, chief designer of Focke Wulf and about 62 German scientists and aerospace engineers arrived to Argentina as well. They began working on dependencies of Fabricaciones Militares. Tank had been working on a number of combat aircraft designs during WWII; the Ta-138 was one of those ideas, an advanced fighter designed to use air-to-air missiles that couldn't be finished before the German surrender. It was intended to be fitted with the BMW003 engine.
Being a descendant of a Jewish banking family that was almost obliterated during WWII, I have to say that I find it odd - to say the least - to be also the grandson of a "German rocket scientist", but life seems to have a sense of irony and this wasn't the first strange twist in our history (see Pedro I de Portugal).
I know from D.J. story and others than things were back then not so black and white during WWII as they see today, and it is understandable that people had to survive in one way or another. D.J. had what was needed to survive, but still, it is somewhat a complicated thing to come to terms with. It is undeniable that the Nazi regime murdered my family yet, the scientific and technological achievements of the Germans, for which also part of my family could take credit for, are also very real but nevertheless a burden: D.J. seemingly was a tortured man, well aware of his past of light and darkness; he died alone in Buenos Aires of a hearth attack in 1963, when he was 62 years old.
Perhaps you would ask yourself how and why the family of one of those German "rocket scientists" got together with a family of Jewish bankers after the war. One explanation would be that indeed, it has been customary to consider objective achievements while establishing familiar links. The other way to explain it is for all its bad and well-known inept aspects as a society, Argentina has a few good things and one is that hatred is left at the border. People that came by the millions to Argentina always left the ghosts from the past behind; it is just something that the country has.
So it is not uncommon to see in places like Buenos Aires a couple of orthodox Jews waiting to cross the street along with a few Muslims women dressed with burqas and a couple of travestis. That is why the country did not take part either in WWI and WWII, despite the fact that indeed, there were in fact groups of volunteers that went back to the old world to fight for their countries of origin.
Anyway, suffice to say that two years after grandfather D.J. wrote this resume, stating what he worked at during the war and what he brought to Argentina, the Pulqui II, designed by Kurt Tank as a derivative of the Ta-138 flew for the first time. On of the Pulqui II prototypes still exist, and it kept in a museum not far from home.
Pulqui II prototype number 5 flying in 1959.
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