Helmut Gröttrup (12 February 1916 – 5 July 1981) was a German electrical engineer. He was born in Cologne and died in Munich. He was an assistant of Wernher von Braun in the V-2 rocket-project. Gröttrup was responsible for the radio guidance system. After the war, he worked in the Soviet rocketry program.
After returning from Russia, he invented the chip card.
After World War II, Gröttrup decided to work with the Soviet rocketry program, hoping to be its leader rather than an underling of von Braun (with whom he had personality conflicts). From 9 September 1945 to 22 October 1946, Gröttrup worked under the supervision of Sergey Korolyov in the Soviet Occupation Zone. Then, all scientists and engineers working for the SU were unexpectedly moved to the USSR by train along with their families as part of Operation Osoaviakhim.
Gröttrup helped Korolev with the R-1 project, a recreation of the V-2 missile using Russian manufacturing and materials. At Kapustin Yar, he helped Korolev supervise the launching of 20 rebuilt V-2 rockets. As a reality check on Korolev's missile proposals, Defence Minister Dmitriy Ustinov asked Gröttrup and his small team to design several new missile systems, including the R-10 (G-1), R-12 (G-2) and the R-14 (G-4) which was similar to the A9/A10 long range missile von Braun designed during the war. Gröttrup was also asked to consult on the R-13 (G-3) cruise missile. None of these projects went beyond the design stage, but some ideas were incorporated in the R-2 and R-5 missile systems.
Return to Germany
On 22 November 1953, Gröttrup was returned to Germany. For security reasons, German specialists were not allowed to work on important missile technologies after 1951, but they were kept in the USSR for a 1.5 year "cooling off" period so they could not give timely information to British or American intelligence. Gröttrup and a few other scientists were kept even longer, because of their important position and concern that they would move to West Germany.
Back in Germany, Gröttrup worked for SEL (Standard Elektrik Lorenz) in Stuttgart (1955–1958). Later he became an inventor and developed the chip card together with Jürgen Dethloff. Several patents were filed in 1968 and 1969 and granted later-on, such as US3678250, GB1317915, GB1318850. From 1970, he worked for Giesecke & Devrient for chip cards and banknote processing systems.
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