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Operation Paperclip : the secret…

Operation Paperclip : the secret intelligence program to bring Nazi…

by Annie Jacobsen

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[Operation Paperclip] is a disturbing book. When the Third Reich collapsed, and even before the remnants of the German government surrendered, American agents were hustling hither and yon in Germany, seeking out scientists and recruiting them for the "American side." Invariably, the German scientific stars were doctrinaire Nazis who performed heinous acts before and during the war. Among the sought-after Nazis were medical doctors who tested their research on live humans, disregarding the likelihood that the tests would kill their subjects. Others had supervised the construction and operation of war materials factories using slave labor, work that killed tens of thousands. No captured Nazi ever confessed to a war crime; never were they involved, or present, or aware. It was always someone else. None expressed regret or remorse.

Most American, British, and French authorities focused on the Nazi atrocities, the perpetrators, and criminal justice—the Nuremberg War Trials. But some military officers—lieutenant colonels, colonels, generals—medical doctors, chemists, engineers, intelligence types, security specialists—looked in wonder at the scientific and technological achievements of the Third Reich. Instead of seeing the obvious human costs of these achievements and their dubious value to civilized society, these officers envisioned only the worth of deadly diseases and chemical agents in the next war. The inevitable war with the Soviets. These Americans felt they were competing with our next enemy, the Soviets, to enlist the services of the most effective and villainous wizards of the Third Reich, who could create the war-winning chemical agents, rockets, and weapons not yet imagined..

The post-war program dubbed Operation Paperclip was contrived to slip Nazis through background checks and around long-standing immigration regulations. Sought-after Nazis were hidden from criminal investigators in secret camps. Incriminating documents were classified to hide them from prying eyes. The State Department was pressured to issue visas without delay; some Nazis actually were brought to the U.S. without visas, their handlers knowing that once they were in country, they'd be very difficult to deport.

In Operation Paperclip the Book, author Annie Jacobsen documents the conduct of Nazi physicians, medical researchers, chemical and biological weapons researchers and manufacturers before and during the war. She associates industrial facilities and concentration camps, research labs and concentration camps, the escalation of war material manufacturing with slave labor—just work 'em til they're dead.

She also documents the conduct of the Americans who recruited them. I doubt any of them were as credulous as to believe the denials of torturers and murderers. Their attitudes were merely convenient—"Nothing to see here." If a prize scientist denied doing bad things, why that settled it. Jacobsen recounts what one General told an army historian that "sheds light on this question." The general, Charles Loucks, supervised the manufacture of tens of thousands of incendiary bombs dropped on Japan. After Japan's surrender, Loucks was reassigned there, and he made many day trips, during which he photographed the damage and the dead. During an interview decades later, Loucks described a particular photo of himself in front of an enormous pile of dead bodies next to a stack of incendiary bombs. "General Loucks expressed a peculiar kind of detachment. ...Loucks made clear that what interested him in the photograph was noting the effectiveness—or in this case ineffectiveness—of the bombs he had been responsible for manufacturing." Similarly, Jacobsen wrote, Loucks expressed detachment as far as Nazi scientists were concerned. It was as if this general "could not, or would not," see the scientists "in the context of the millions of Jews murdered on the direct orders of [their] closest wartime colleagues." What interested the general about one particular Nazi scientist, for example, was "what an effective chemical weapons maker he was."

As the Cold War supplanted Nazis in American fears, uproar over Operation Paperclip died down. But the details remained shrouded in secrecy. In 1998, the Nazi War Crime Disclosure Act passed into law. It required government agencies "to identify and release federal records relating to Nazi war criminals that had been kept classified for decades." In 2005, a final report to Congress said that "[t]he notion that they [The U.S. military and the CIA] employed only a few 'bad apples' will not stand up to the new documentation." According to the report, the government's use of Nazis was a bad idea; "there was no compelling reason to begin the postwar era with the assistance of some of those associated with the worst crimes of the war."

The terrible story may not ALL be here, but much of it is. The names are named. The sources are documented in pages and pages of notes. A short afterword reports reactions of some children and grandchildren of the Nazis. If you have the constitution for it, it is a worthwhile read.
  weird_O | Apr 5, 2018 |
Dense and repetitive. While fascinating in theory, it didn't much catch my attention. It *did* infuriate me (the history it was sharing) and I feel it's a history worth sharing and remembering, it just...could have been more eloquent. ( )
  benuathanasia | Dec 7, 2017 |
Wow. I had heard of the story of Werner von Braun, but not in its proper context, which is the entirety of Operation Paperclip. Ms. Jacobsen explores this exhaustively, and in a well-written journalistic format. This is outstanding research. It is also essential reading for those seeking to understand the motivations of the United States government as it shapes our course through history.

This is not conspiracy therory at all, this is fact-based reporting. Operation Paperclip was an extension of the connection between US institutions and IG Farben, the corporation that was involved with the creation and production of biological weapons for the extermination of unwanted people by the Nazi fascist regime. These "scientists" (I prefer the term evil engineers) were not geniuses, nor even particularly intellectual. They were merely willing to push the moral boundaries over and over again to curry favor with their superiors or on their orders. After the war they all feigned naivete. Jacobsen proves in totality that this couldn't have been the case.

Furthermore, and perhaps more disturbing depending on one's perspective on the "resolution" of WWII, these scientists were heavily recruited by the United States and brought to America to live as assimilates. Even worse, the ones that were the most responsible and the most immoral were the most sought-after, with the repeated excuse of trying to make sure that the Soviet Union didn't get them first.

There are many shocking anecdotes and revelations in this book. It should be taught in history classes, at least the primary principles. Outstanding work, I'm looking forward to reading some of her other books. ( )
  sloanwolf | Oct 16, 2017 |
In Operation Paperclip, Annie Jacobsen,( investigative journalist) follows more than 12 scientists ,engineers and technicians " from Nazi Germany and other foreign countries, brought to the United States for employment in the aftermath of World War II.

Operation Paperclip was the codename for Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and was conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA).
"The project was originally called Operation Overcast, and is sometimes also known as Project Paperclip."

"...a remarkable achievement of investigative reporting and historical writing, it is a moral force as well as a literary tour de force.
It reminds us, unforgettably, about the wages of war — and the price of victory.” (Boston Globe) ( )
  pennsylady | Feb 5, 2016 |
Operation Paperclip is a well researched scholarly book about a sliver of time at the end of World War II, when the rubble was still smoking in Berlin and America’s military was looking around to see what the next enemy might be.

There were German scientists, you see, experts in rocketry or atomic energy or chemical warfare, who had been the mainstay of Hitler’s war machine and who were now, to put it mildly, at loose ends.

America in 1945 was much more worried about Communist Russia than it was about Nazi Germany, and the State Department and the Army found itself with two goals:

(1) to gather Nazi war science up into American hands
(2) to keep Nazi war science out of the hands of the Russians

All well and good you say? Perhaps. But these new allies included men like Werner von Braun who ran a slave labor camp at Peenemunde while firing off V-1 and V-2 rockets at England and Belgium.

And other little charmers whose expertise included chemical warfare and biological warfare and other serious nastiness.

In another kind of world these men would have stood up to war crimes tribunals. In this world they had their Nazi party records expunged and they were given free passes into American citizenship and honors and privileges.

What do we think about that? I still don't know. What would the world have been like if these people had gone over to the Russians? Scary. But the guy who helped put America on the moon had blood on his hands - and he was Hello Kitty compared to some of the others we winkled out.

An important and very readable book. But it will make you think. And perhaps not sleep very well.
1 vote magicians_nephew | Jan 28, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031622104X, Hardcover)

The explosive, dark secrets behind America's post-WWII science programs from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51.

In the chaos following WWII, some of the greatest spoils of Germany's resources were the Third Reich's scientific minds. The U.S. government secretly decided that the value of these former Nazis' knowledge outweighed their crimes and began a covert operation code-named Paperclip to allow them to work in the U.S. without the public's full knowledge. Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including papers made available to her by direct descendants of the Third Reich's ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and lost dossiers discovered at the National Archives and Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into one of the most complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secrets of the 20th century.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:30 -0400)

Details how the U.S. government embarked on a covert operation to recruit and employ Nazi scientists in the years following World War II in an effort to prevent their knowledge and expertise from falling into the hands of the Soviet Union.

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