We are pleased to announce that MS-632: Rudi Berndt Papers is now open for research.
Rudi Julius Berndt (1921-2004) was a German engineer who came to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip (or Project Paperclip), a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency to recruit leading German scientists, engineers, and technicians at the close of World War II (before the Russians did).
Berndt’s particular area of expertise was parachute development. From 1941 to 1946, he was a member of the parachute research and development team at the Graf Zeppelin Research Institute Stuttgart-Ruit, working alongside such leaders in the field as Helmut Heinrich and Theodor Knacke.
At age 25, Berndt was one of the youngest recruits for Operation Paperclip. He began his employment with the U.S. Army Air Services in the autumn of 1946, coming to Dayton to start his work at Wright Field in November. Berndt dedicated over 40 years of his life to civilian service at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, retiring in 1990.
The manuscript collection primarily documents Berndt’s work in parachute development, in both Germany and the United States, from the WWII era through the Cold War. Educational records, as well as a significant amount of material pertaining to Berndt’s arrival in the United States as part of Operation Paperclip, are also included. Of particular note are Berndt’s memoirs, which describe his early life in Germany through his retirement.
A selection of documents and photographs from the collection are included below. Click on an image to enlarge it.