Operation Paperclip To Rescue Nazi Scientists from Germany

Operation Paperclip, also called Project Paperclip, was the code name for the rescue of scientists from Nazi Germany by the O.S.S. and U.S. Military at the end of World War II and in the years afterward. In 1945, the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency was set up, and Operation Paperclip was put into action by this agency.

After the German invasion of the Soviet Union (codenamed “Operation Barbarossa”) failed and, to a lesser extent, after the U.S. joined the war, Germany was at a strategic disadvantage because its military industries were not ready for a long war. So, in the spring of 1943, Germany started trying to get scientists and technical workers back from combat units and put them in places where their skills could be used for research and development:

“Overnight, Ph.D.s were released from KP duty, Masters of Science were called back from orderly service, mathematicians were pulled out of bakeries, and precision mechanics stopped being truck drivers.” — Dieter K. Huzel

Werner Osenberg, an engineer-scientist at the University of Hannover and head of the Wehrforschungsgemeinschaft, was in charge of recording the men’s names on the Osenberg List. First, the men had to be found, then their political correctness and dependability had to be checked (Military Research Association). In March 1945, a Polish lab worker found pieces of the Osenberg List in a toilet that hadn’t been flushed properly. Major Robert B. Staver, Chief of the Jet Propulsion Section of the Research and Intelligence Branch of the U.S. Army Ordnance in London, used the Osenberg List to make his Black List of scientists to be questioned, which was led by rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.

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The original, unnamed plan was to talk to only the rocket scientists. This changed after Maj. Staver sent Col. Joel Holmes’ cable to the Pentagon on May 22, 1945, saying that evacuating the German technicians and their families was “important for the Pacific war.” Most of the scientists were rocketeers who worked on V-2 rockets. They lived with their families at first in Landshut, Bavaria.

On July 19, 1945, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) came up with the name “Operation Overcast” for how to deal with the Nazi scientists and their families. However, when the nickname “Camp Overcast” for where they lived became common, “Operation Overcast” was changed to “Operation Paperclip.” Even though the government tried to keep Operation Paperclip secret, by 1958, a Time magazine article that praised Wernher von Braun talked about many of its details.

Colonel Holger N. Toftoy, who was in charge of the Rocket Branch of the Research and Development Division of Army Ordnance, gave the rocket scientists one-year contracts at the beginning of August 1945. When Toftoy said he would take care of their families, 127 scientists said yes. Wernher von Braun, Erich W. Neubert, Theodor A. Poppel, August Schulze, Eberhard F. M. Rees, Wilhelm Jungert, and Walter Schwidetzky were the first seven German rocket scientists to arrive at Fort Strong in the US in September 1945. The rocket scientists finally got to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they worked as “War Department Special Employees” to test rockets at White Sands Proving Grounds.

Some “Paperclip Specialists” legally moved to the United States in the early 1950s through the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. This is where the Nazi scientists legally entered the United States. Some scientists’ actions during World War II were looked into in later years. For example, Arthur Rudolph was linked to the Mittelbau-Dora slave labor camp, and Hubertus Strughold was linked to Nazi human experiments.

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As part of Operation Lusty, 86 aeronautical engineers were sent to Wright Field, which had taken over Nazi aircraft and equipment.

The US Army Signal Corps hired 24 experts, including physicists Drs. Georg Goubau, Gunter Guttwein, Georg Hass, Horst Kedesdy, and Kurt Levovec; physical chemists Professor Rudolf Brill and Drs. Ernst Baars and Eberhard Both; geophysicist Dr. Helmut Weickmann; technical optician Dr. Gerhard Schwesinger; and electronics engineers Drs. Eduard Gerber,

In 1946, the US Bureau of Mines hired seven German scientists who worked at a Fischer-Tropsch plant in Louisiana, Missouri.

In 1959, 94 Operation Paperclip men, like Friedwardt Winterberg and Friedrich Wigand, went to the United States. Operation Paperclip brought over 1,600 Nazis to the U.S. and U.K. by 1990. The patents and industrial processes that the U.S. and U.K. took as “intellectual reparations” are worth about $10 billion. (source)