Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

The explosive story of America’s secret post-WWII science programs, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51

In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich’s scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis’ once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to bring Hitler’s scientists and their families to the United States.

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3 thoughts on “Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America

  1. 17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A powerful book that will change your view of the Defense Department, February 14, 2014
    By 
    americangadfly (Arlington, VA USA) –

    This review is from: Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America (Hardcover)
    After Nazi Germany’s surrender to the Allies, sixty of the world’s most evil human beings gathered as prisoners at Kransberg Castle twenty miles north of Frankfurt. This building was the former headquarters of Hermann Göring’s Luftwaffe. It was here that American military intelligence officers began the process of deciding their fates. Send them to trial at risk of the gallows. Or spirit them away to war department laboratories in America. (Or do both, and then commute their sentences as if justice did not matter.)

    Jacobsen’s book tell this story. It’s a big one, and she has conducted a massive amount of research and made it readable with a lively narrative style. Some of those scientists did go to face trial at Nuremberg. But others were brought into the U.S. and put quietly back to work.

    The newly formed Joint Intelligence Objective Agency, or JOIA, had decided that these scientists were too valuable to the U.S. to allow to fall into Soviet hands. The initiative started by JOIA, Operation Paperclip, was a covert American operation that was one of the most guarded U.S. government secrets of the 20th century. Some of the scientists who were part of it were well known — Albert Einstein for one. But others had much darker pasts:

    * Otto Ambros was a Third Reich chemist who served as director of the German corporation that produced the gas used in the death camps. He was tried at Nuremberg, found guilty of mass murder, and sentenced to eight years. While he was serving time in prison, Operation Paperclip officials arranged for his sentence to be commuted. In 1951, Ambros was hired to work at a clandestine facility north of Frankfurt called Camp King. His work, sanctioned by the Defense Department, ultimately involved the testing of sarin toxins on American soldiers without their knowledge.

    * Arthur Rudolph was a Nazi rocket scientist who played a key role in the V-2 rocket program. One of Operation Paperclip’s earliest hires, Rudolph, in the U.S., worked his way up through the ranks of NASA to become project director of the Saturn V rocket program. Ultimately, Rudolph was led to confess to war crimes, but his work is all over the U.S. aeronautics technology.

    * Kurt Blome, a virologist, pioneered Hitler’s secret germ warfare program. Specializing in plague research, Blome conducted human tests on concentration camp prisoners and was a defendant at the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial. Acquitted, Blome was instrumental in the U.S. germ warfare program.

    Jacobsen’s book tells a dramatic story about morality and expediency, and the ethical quandaries that arise when the former is sacrificed for the latter. She writes with a sense of drama, and has clearly found materials (judging by her source notes) that have eluded other authors. Her book can be recommended to anyone who likes biography, World War II history, or science narratives.

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  2. 14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Troubling, often difficult to stomach, but in the end an important book about moral shortcuts at the highest levels., February 15, 2014
    By 
    n735wb.

    This review is from: Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America (Hardcover)
    Annie Jacobsen plunges us head first into the grim dossiers of some of the most celebrated names in America’s space program in her well researched book on the infamous World War II project called Operation Paperclip. Designed to prevent Nazi Germany’s scientific minds from taking their weapons-making skills to Russia, Paperclip instead devolved into a US government-sanctioned safe harbor for more than a hundred SS thugs and cold killers. “Humans and machine parts went into the tunnels,” writes Jacobsen of the underground assembly areas for Hitler’s V-2 rockets. “Rockets and corpses came out.” Most famously, Jacobsen tells the story of the well known SS officer Werner Von Braun who today has a performing arts center named after him near the rocket center in Huntsville, Alabama but who during the war showed little concern for the thousands of concentration camp workers who built his rockets in the death mills of the underground mines called the Mittelwerks. Rather than stand trial for his inhumanity, von Braun was brought to American and treated like a celebrity, his horrific past notwithstanding.
    In alike matter, one name after the other pours forth from the pages of Jacobsen’s book at a pace that at times seems overwhelming but that in the end paints a portrait of a large-scale moral rationalizations set against the looming crisis of the Cold War. Jacobsen presents her material with detail never before seen in print masterfully laying out the facts without undue sensationalism.

    Troubling, often difficult to stomach, but in the end comprehensive, this well written account is a warning to those of us today who are tempted to believe that “national security” forgives past sins or that “national interest” trumps morality. Thankfully, Ms. Jacobsen’s excellent books tells us that quite the opposite is true.

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  3. 20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Do we want science at any price? or: The shameful days of the American past, February 14, 2014
    By 
    Paul Gelman “PAUL Y. GELMAN” (HAIFA , ISRAEL) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America (Hardcover)
    Operation Paperclip is about the connection between Nazi scientists and American government secrets. Under this program, more than a thousand of Nazi scientists were brought to America immediately after the end of World War Two. Those scientists helped develop rockets, the NASA program, chemical and biological weapons, aviation and space medicine and many other weapons of mass destruction.They came to America at the behest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Some officials believed that by endorsing the Paperclip program they were accepting the lesser of two evils-that if America didn’t recruit theses men, the Soviet Communists would.
    The book comes in five parts and each part is about another chronoligical era . Most men that were brought to America were accused of war crimes. Most of them were found guilty of war crimes by the various post-war trials at Nuremberg. Yet the USA wanted them on American soil to work for the American people despite their horrible past.
    Opposition to Operation Paperclip gained momentum with America’s scientific elite and many scientists were outraged when the details of the secret project came out. Albert Einstein was the most esteemed figure to publicly denouce this operation and wrote directly to President Truman on behalf of his FAS colleagues:”We hold these individuals to be potentially dangerous…Their former eminence as Nazi Party members and supporters raises the issue of their fitness to become American citizens and hold key positions in American industrial, scientific and educational institutions”.
    Another famous scientists, Hans Bethe, who fled the Nazis, asked: “Do we want science at any price?”
    Among the various and many scientists and their respective projects they were working on, Ms. Jacobsen mentions Dr. Walter Schreiber who was the surgeon general of the Third Reich and developed intravenous lethal phenol injections. He was finally exposed by an ex-concentration camp victim and as a result had to leave the USA. Another criminal, Kurt Blome, was Hitler’s biological weapons maker, while Kurt Debus was a V-weapons engineer who oversaw mobile rocket launches at Peenemunde. An ardent Nazi, he wore the SS uniform to work and became the first director of NASA’s JFK Space Center in Florida. Hubertus Strughold was in charge of the aviation research in the Reich Ministry and despite his war crimes was hired by the Americans only to become America’s father of Space Medicine.
    These and many more criminal scientists people the pages of this fascinating and fast-paced written book. In it, Ms. Jacobsen has incorporated a wealth of post-war interrogation reports, army intelligence security dossiers, Army intelligence armaments reports, declassified memos, diaries and journals. She also used-for the first time-materials supplied to her by the descendants of some Nazi scientists. She definitely shows to what extent the CIA agency had been involved with these monsters and the various ways those Nazis trained and supplied vital information to the CIA. The various and notorious interrogation techniques and other programs and projects had their beginnings in a camp near Franfurt called Camp King. It was there where Operation Bluebird experiments involving LSD and other drugs started.The army’s herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War, in
    which 11.4 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed over more than 24 percent of South Vietnam was the brainchild of Fritz Hoffmann, another Nazi war criminal. On his deathbed, Hoffmann, according his daughter, was quiet and said nothing about it. Unfortunately, many details about additional projects initiated by the Nazi scientists who were flown into the USA are still classified.
    For anyone interested in the history of the postwar period and for those who would like to know to what extent the USA became involved with the Nazi past, this long book is “a must”.

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