Operation Paperclip


“I’m mad on technology,” Adolf Hitler told a dinner party for his inner circle in 1942. Less than three years later and the Fuhrer was dead, Germany had surrendered, and as the dust settled on World War Two, more than sixteen hundred Nazi technicians had defected to America. A top-secret plan to win the arms race against Russia, who the US felt were preparing for a Total War with the West, new forms of biological and nuclear weaponry needed to be developed, and no other country had the scientific capability like Germany. The Allies were certain that if they didn’t bring the top Nazi scientists to America, then Russia would surely take them East. Codename: Operation Paperclip…

Under Operation Paperclip, which began in May of 1945, the scientists who helped the Third Reich wage war continued their weapons related work for the U.S government, developing rockets, chemical and biological weapons, aviation and space medicine (for enhancing military pilot and astronaut performance) and many other armaments at a feverish and paranoid pace that came to define the Cold War. The age of weapons of mass destruction had begun, and with it came the treacherous concept of brinkmanship – the art of pursuing dangerous policy to the limits of safety before stopping.

The atrocities that followed Hitler’s Final Solution were incomprehensible to the rest of the world. Nazi technicians had decided to melt down the gold teeth in the fillings of their detainees, but decided it was easier to kill the victims first, to make for easy access to the jaw.

Ice baths were filled with freezing water and a prisoner placed naked into it, an experiment to see how long a Luftwaffe pilot could withstand freezing water upon crashing. In the notes for the experiment, Nazi doctors used the term “Adult Pig” as a reference to a human subject.

Doctors routinely subjected prisoners to operations without anaesthesia, one man had part of his liver removed this way, and a young woman had her shin bones removed.  

Other experiments included cutting off limbs and sewing them back on at a different angle.

The US military intelligence knew all of this, yet carefully manoeuvred their Paperclip Doctors out of prosecution at Nuremberg and into America to begin work. This caused some outrage in the international media. Albert Einstein denounced Operation Paperclip in a letter to President Truman.

“We hold these individuals to be potentially dangerous…their former eminence as Nazi Party members and supporters raised the issue of their fitness to become American citizens and hold key positions in American industrial, scientific, and educational institutions.”

As time passed, Operation Paperclip doctors would work alongside the CIA on classified programs, Chatter, Bluebird, Artichoke, MKUltra and other mind control techniques. Operation Paperclip doctors played key roles in getting man to the moon, as well as developing Agent Orange for use in Vietnam.

The author of several academic investigations into military secrets, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, and The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Agency a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Annie Jacobsen’s Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America is a serious, compelling story of a dark chapter in American military history. Amongst many achievements as a work of history is how it describes the horror of the Holocaust and the concentration camps, and the initial investigations into War Crimes committed by the Nazi Regime, specifically those of the Nazi doctors who claimed later they were “just following orders.” Operation Paperclip focuses on 21 Nazi scientists who all were major figures in the Third Reich, and many became successful and well respected scientists in their new lives in America. However, their names and reputations are now posthumously in tatters. Just as the words above the iron gate at Buchenwald Concentration Camp warned those who entered:

Jedem das Seine (Everyone gets what he deserves).

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