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

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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, 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. Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War? Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including previously unseen papers made available by direct descendants of the Third Reich’s ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and dossiers discovered in government archives and at Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into a startling, complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secret of the twentieth century. In this definitive, controversial look at one of America’s most strategic, and disturbing, government programs, Jacobsen shows just how dark government can get in the name of national security.


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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, 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. Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War? Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including previously unseen papers made available by direct descendants of the Third Reich’s ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and dossiers discovered in government archives and at Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into a startling, complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secret of the twentieth century. In this definitive, controversial look at one of America’s most strategic, and disturbing, government programs, Jacobsen shows just how dark government can get in the name of national security.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “For Operation Paperclip, moving a scientist from military custody to immigrant status required elaborate and devious preparation, but in the end the procedure proved to be infallible. Scientists in the southwestern or western United States, accompanied by military escort, were driven in an unmarked army jeep out of the country into Mexico…With him, each scientist carried two forms from the State Department, I-55 and I-255, each bearing a signature from the chief of the visa division and a provi “For Operation Paperclip, moving a scientist from military custody to immigrant status required elaborate and devious preparation, but in the end the procedure proved to be infallible. Scientists in the southwestern or western United States, accompanied by military escort, were driven in an unmarked army jeep out of the country into Mexico…With him, each scientist carried two forms from the State Department, I-55 and I-255, each bearing a signature from the chief of the visa division and a proviso from the Joint Chiefs of Staff… signifying that the visa holder was ‘a person whose admission is highly desirable in the national interest.’ The scientist also had with him a photograph of himself and a blood test warranting that he did not have any infectious diseases. After consulate approval, the scientist was then let back into the United States, no longer under military guard but as a legal U.S. immigrant in possession of a legal visa. The pathway toward citizenship had begun. If the scientist lived closer to the East Coast than the West Coast, he went through the same protocols, except that he would exit the United States into Canada instead of Mexico and reenter through the consulate at Niagara Falls.” - Annie Jacobsen, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America One of the most striking things about the end of the Second World War is how quickly everyone moved onto the next crisis. Despite the deaths of seventy million people, despite the displacement of millions more, despite the cities reduced to rubble, no one stopped to take a deep breath. Instead, former allies became fast enemies; former enemies became indispensable allies. Famously, of course, the Allies tried 24 of Germany’s “major” war criminals, hanging ten of them. These were the remaining big fish, those closest to Hitler who had decided not to follow der Führer’s suicidal example. Subsequent trials resulted in the conviction of 97 other defendants, including doctors, Einsatzgruppen members, and industrialists. But then, the Cold War started to change the definition of justice. Sentences were reduced. Nazis who’d been responsible for pain, suffering, and death, ended up serving less time behind bars than some non-violent drug offenders in U.S. prisons today. Many more former Nazis were never tried at all, because of their value in the fight against communism. In this strange new milieu, Operation Paperclip came to life, dedicated to collecting top Nazi scientists and putting them to use against the Soviets. Indeed, the U.S. started gathering these jackbooted minds even before the guns fell silent. The mission served a twofold purposes: boosting American operations while denying such access to the Soviets. Annie Jacobsen’s Operation Paperclip tells the story of this eponymous, top-secret intelligence program, dedicated to wringing information about high-altitude performance, tabun gas, and rocketry from some very suspect sources. It should be said that this is not really new history. Even if you’ve never heard of Operation Paperclip (it went by other names as well), you probably know in passing that the U.S. employed former Nazis during the Cold War. For instance, anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Space Race (or who has seen Dr. Strangelove) knows that Werner von Braun played a prominent role in birthing America’s ballistic missile program. And of course, before von Braun successfully passed himself off as a starry-eyed dreamer, whose only wish in life was to understand the infinite heavens, he made his bones lobbing V-2 missiles on civilian population bases, not for strategic reasons, mind you, but for the vicious hell of it. What Jacobsen provides in Operation Paperclip are not revelations, but meat on the skeleton. She describes the process by which these learned fascists made their way to our shores, how they were kept here, and how they were protected by the military. It’s a worthy goal for a book, and I think she achieves it, after a fashion. This is written in journalistic style, by which I mean that Jacobsen is more concerned with sharing what she has discovered, and acknowledging what she could not (much remains classified), than with providing a comprehensive history or methodically analyzing the program. I thought that things started off at a really nice pace, with intelligence teams racing into newly-conquered territories to find important scientists before they could escape (or worse, fall into Russian hands). There were some shenanigans involved, which demonstrates how early some Americans recognized the Soviet threat. As Operation Paperclip progresses, though, it starts to suffer from a frustrating disorganization. Jacobsen cannot seem to settle on a structure, so we get some chapters that are nicely centered on a single topic, such as Hitler’s doctors, and others that are just all over the place. Jacobsen’s stated intent is to provide “profiles” of twenty-one of the German scientists brought into Operation Paperclip. The problem, however, is that she is not able to wrangle all these personalities in a satisfying way. She has a tendency to leave fundamental questions unanswered. Chiefly, she is often unclear in stating whether or not a particular German was or was not a war criminal. There are a lot of ways to tell a story like this. You can hone in on the scientists and doctors themselves, and tell us what they did in support of Hitler’s cause. You can provide a rundown on what services these men provided the United States, and how they did nor did not advance American military interests. Or you can describe the people running the program itself, and how they came to the conclusion that it was more important to hire than to hang. At certain times, Jacobsen attempts to do all these things, with the result that she does not do any of them with any great satisfaction. Moreover, she often dwells on the least interesting aspects of her story, relating mundane details she gained from family interviews. (Obviously, she is proud of the work it took to get these accounts, but it’s hard to put much stock in the remembrances of small children taken decades after the fact). Despite these flaws, this is a worthwhile read. It is entertaining and informative, if a bit scattershot. My paperback edition is 445 pages of text, and I got through it quite quickly. Helpfully, there is also a list of principal characters (for some reason put at the end of the book) that aids you keep track of the many names that get thrown your way. When I finished Operation Paperclip, I thought about the central question posed here – even if only by implication: Was it worth it? Did the intelligence gains merit the price paid in allowing war criminals to not only escape punishment, but to thrive, even prosper, on taxpayer-funded payrolls? I don’t think it’s an easy answer, though Jacobsen writes with a slam-dunk certainty in opposition. Beyond the philosophical dilemma posed by the operation, the thing that bothered me most was America’s seeming lack of confidence in the wake of her grand triumph at the end of World War II. It’s not just that we thought we could use these Nazi thinkers, but that we needed them. It seems like the first national reaction to the rise of the Soviet Union from the ashes of their death-struggle with Hitler was to panic. I find that an unfortunate response. America had just successfully fought two huge wars simultaneously, each war requiring vastly different military disciplines. The United States had transformed a roughly-180,000 man army into a six-million man force by 1945. She had mobilized her industrial might to equip her allies around the globe, as well as herself. Once operating at peak efficiency, this was a nation that could churn out a ship in 24 hours, a nation that could harness the atom. Yet, despite these achievements, many U.S. decision-makers appeared to think that the only way to compete with the Soviets was to utilize Nazi scientists, rather than reinvesting in American ability and talent. The physical achievements of this ethical compromise were checkered. The moral ramifications were devastating.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I have read a significant amount about the Second World War, to the point that I have almost completely tired of the topic. However, Annie Jacobsen breathes new life and excitement into the subject and the years that followed with this book that discusses a complex program the United States’ government worked to cobble together as the Nazi regime fell apart. Jacobsen’s painstakingly detailed discussions of Operation: Paperclip not only reveal some of the controversial decisions about science and I have read a significant amount about the Second World War, to the point that I have almost completely tired of the topic. However, Annie Jacobsen breathes new life and excitement into the subject and the years that followed with this book that discusses a complex program the United States’ government worked to cobble together as the Nazi regime fell apart. Jacobsen’s painstakingly detailed discussions of Operation: Paperclip not only reveal some of the controversial decisions about science and the Third Reich, but also present the reader with both sides of the argument surrounding procuring scientists and their research from the decimated fascist regime. Jacobsen opens the book discussing some of the scientific and military feats that the Nazis had in the works at the height of the war. Hitler was working with many of his inner circle to defeat the Allies by any means possible. Throughout the narrative, Jacobsen eludes to Hitler’s determination not to bow down or permit surrender, finding suicide and keeping one’s pride as the highest honour of the Third Reich. Amidst the soldiers and German citizens who devoted themselves to the Nazis, there were many scientists whose work was highly advanced. Jacobsen argues that much of the rocket technology was at least 20 years ahead of American military prowess, which might have been one of the reasons for the coming decisions, a choice that would surely open more than one can of worms. As the Allies crushed the Nazis and forced a German surrender in May, 1945, there was talk about what to do with many of those minds who had been fuelling Nazi successes. With the V-rocket program up and running, the Americans felt the need to capture this technology in order to turn it to the Pacific, where the Japanese were still waging a bloody battle. There were also a number of scientific experiments that were being discussed in code, things that the Americans could use if they had the know how. Jacobsen uses these arguments to posit that the idea behind getting the technology would surely be an asset worth procuring. Within the highest levels of the US bureaucracy, and among those who were developing the CIA, came the idea of bringing Nazi scientists and their research to America, where it could be utilised, as well as ensuing that it would be kept out of the hands of the Soviets. The underlying concern was that knowledge of the Nazi atrocities was widespread and trying to ‘sell’ this to the American public would be tough. At the earliest points in the discussion, even President Harry Truman was not privy to Operation: Paperclip, the name given to the mission that would see German scientists placed within American companies or working inside the military establishment. All this being said, Paperclip sought to shield these scientists from their past actions, relocating them with new names or at least keeping them away from the public eye as best as possible. As Jacobsen continues her detailed narrative, she effectively argues that there was a need to choose wisely, as the Soviets were surely trying to do the same thing for themselves. Selecting the best and brightest, especially those whose work on pharmaceuticals and biological warfare could be invaluable, needed to be done swiftly. Amongst all this was the after effects of the war, which included the Nuremberg Trials, where some of the most heinous men were put on trial for their Nazi atrocities, which included concentration camps, experiments on humans, and gross neglect of the German people (and the prisoners captured from other countries). Jacobsen illustrates this throughout, giving the reader pause as to how well the legal matters were handled and who was chosen to stand trial, likely to face a public hanging. Deceptive in their choices, CIA and US officials chose as well as they could, granting visas to many Nazi scientists and placing them inside companies that could profit from their knowledge, at times turning a blind eye or burying any documentation that could implicate anyone involved. There were, however, some issues when certain scientists and medical professionals were discovered to have been part of the atrocities, all of which comes out in Jacobsen’s masterful narrative, particularly the chapter on the fallout of Paperclip, decades after the fact. The blowback by the American public, when it hit the presses, was mixed, though there was certainly a strong push against Operation: Paperclip. Trying to justify offering protection to some of those who had such a disregard for human life cannot be discounted. The CIA sought to downplay this furor, citing the need to stay ahead of the Soviet threats. American bureaucrats and government officials dodged the backlash as best they could, sure that there would surely be a change of heart once the evils of communism and the Soviet shadow became clear. While there were ethical, moral, and social arguments against the entire operation, Jacobsen tries to give both perspectives in her numerous interviews and by revealing a great deal of declassified memoranda that outlined American sentiments. As the book comes to its climactic end, Jacobsen leaves the reader to ponder what came of Operation: Paperclip and how many of the high-ranking officials felt years after actions had been taken. Some stood firm that this was the right thing to have done, while others had many concerns about opening Pandora’s Box. This provides the reader with their own chance to decide how they personally feel about the actions undertaken in this covert mission. Should America have fanned the capitalist flames by using fodder from a fascist and heinous regime that saw certain groups of people as lower than scum? Without the science, would America be as well off today as it was in those post-war years? There’s much to consider and Annie Jacobsen only adds to the discussion by presenting this sensational tome. One can hope that many will read it and join the conversation! As I sit here, trying to cobble together a review that might get people interested, I cannot help but think back to what I just read. Annie Jacobsen’s work not only sheds some needed light onto a program that implicates the Americans as duplicitous and trying to capitalise on the backs of those they fought to save, but it also illustrates the lengths to which scientific discovery trumps ethical behaviour. In reading this tome, I am not jaded about the American military or those who chose to push Operation: Paperclip forward, but I am shocked to see that it was taking place right under the noses of those who supported the freedom for all. Jacobsen uses the pages of this book to prove a point, but does so with a massive amount of information, not simply her own gut feelings. The depth of research that went into creating this book is apparent to the attentive reader and one can only guess what did not make the final editorial cut. With thoroughly documented chapters that tell the minute details of this time in American history, readers will take much away from the story, yet most will likely want more. While there is no doubt that the Nazis committed many atrocities, their scientific explorations served America well, while also showing a complete disregard for human life. I cannot say enough about Annie Jacobsen or this book, though I should probably stop and let those curious enough to pick up this book try it for themselves. It’s not one easily or soon forgotten! Kudos, Madam Jacobsen, for a stellar piece of work. I will be looking to some of your other work soon, trust me there. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kimber

    Jacobsen has definitely done her research, in fact, this is so overly detailed as to be tedious reading. Never the less, what she brings to the table is immense and important in our understanding of history. After World War 2, the world discovered the Nazi atrocities and the world was never the same. Healing has been difficult and slow. Furthermore, the American government faced a crucial decision with what to do with these highly intelligent Nazi scientists and engineers. The Russians were swoo Jacobsen has definitely done her research, in fact, this is so overly detailed as to be tedious reading. Never the less, what she brings to the table is immense and important in our understanding of history. After World War 2, the world discovered the Nazi atrocities and the world was never the same. Healing has been difficult and slow. Furthermore, the American government faced a crucial decision with what to do with these highly intelligent Nazi scientists and engineers. The Russians were swooping in- if the Americans didn't recruit them, the Russians would have & this would have possibly propelled them to world dominance (and a Communist world government, ultimately.) The Americans could not let the Russians- or China- to have the upper hand. The American government was very divided about this decision and it rested with Truman who approved-but kept it classified. So these Nazis secretly immigrated to the U. S. and were given cushy jobs mainly in the government &military sector instead of prison or death sentences. Operation Paperclip was first revealed by journalist Linda Hunt in 1985 but still needs to be more widely understood by Americans considering its impact that is still felt today. I recommend this book for that reason- and for the depth that Jacobsen gives it. It's not easy reading- reading about the Holocaust never is.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    At the conclusion of her new book, OPERATION PAPERCLIP: THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM THAT NAZI SCIENTISTS BROUGHT TO AMERICA, Annie Jacobsen discusses her battles with American military and intelligence authorities in trying to obtain documents relating to the employ of Nazi scientists by the United States Army and other government agencies following World War II. In her discussion a common theme reaches fruition in 2012 as the Department of Defense finally declassified a 1945 list of Nazi do At the conclusion of her new book, OPERATION PAPERCLIP: THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM THAT NAZI SCIENTISTS BROUGHT TO AMERICA, Annie Jacobsen discusses her battles with American military and intelligence authorities in trying to obtain documents relating to the employ of Nazi scientists by the United States Army and other government agencies following World War II. In her discussion a common theme reaches fruition in 2012 as the Department of Defense finally declassified a 1945 list of Nazi doctors who were sought for “mercy killings and medical murder cases.” On that list were seven Nazi doctors who were employed by the U.S. government even though “U.S. Army intelligence knew all along that these doctors were implicated in murder yet chose to classify the list and hire the doctors.” (437) These doctors were hired as part of Operation Paperclip a postwar program designed to use the technological and medical knowledge of Nazi scientists for the benefit of American policy as the Cold War was burgeoning. This raises a number of moral questions, the most important of which is when does a government draw the line in working with individuals who are guilty of directly or indirectly causing the death of tens of thousands of concentration camp victims, slave laborers, or innocent civilians. In the case of the United States following World War II that line was invisible no matter what evidence existed that the individuals that the government was interested in had either engaged directly or indirectly in genocide. For American officials following the war it was easy to dismiss evidence because in their eyes American national security interests trumped any documents that might interfere with their goal of using Nazi technological and medical advances to further the American agenda against the Soviet Union. Anne Jacobsen has written a detailed and deeply researched study that raises numerous moral and philosophical questions as she explores the origin, implementation, and eventual downfall of Operation Paperclip. She leaves no stone unturned as she ferrets out the stories and experiences relating to Wernher von Braun, the director of the German Army’s V2 rocket program and headed the Mittelbau-Dora Planning Office that oversaw experiments that resulted in the death of 30,000 out of 60,000 slave laborers he “hired” from the SS. Other subjects include, Dr. Walter Schreiber, the Surgeon General of the Third Reich who carried out medical experiments on concentration camp victims for gas and bacterial warfare; Georg Rickhey, the General manager of the Mittlewerk slave labor facility; Otto Ambros, chemist and co discoverer of sarin gas and manager of IG Farben’s slave labor factory at Auschwitz; Dr. Kurt Blome, Deputy Surgeon General of the Reich; Major General Walter Dornberger who was in charge of V-weapons development and the technical officer in the Nordhausen slave labor tunnels; and Dr. Hubertus Strughold the wartime director for aviation research for the Reich. These are just a few of the individuals that Jacobsen’s narrative exposes. All are war criminals, and all participated in Operation Paperclip and developed important programs that the US military came to rely on during the Cold War, for example, Kurt Debus, an ardent Nazi and V-weapons flight test director who later became the first director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Jacobsen follows Operation Paperclip from its inception in 1945 as American authorities had to decide what to do with Hitler’s former scientists and engineers. Proponents of Operation Paperclip decided to use Nazi scientists to assist in the war against Japan. However, once the Japanese threat ended in August, 1945 and relations with the Soviet Union began to deteriorate the race to acquire as many scientists and technological experts before the Soviet Union could capture them gained momentum. Jacobsen does an excellent job describing certain Nazi scientists and why their particular specialty was so important to the United States. US policy for hiring German scientists was supposed to be based on the condition that “provided they were not known or alleged war criminals,” however this caveat was easily overlooked. I found the mini-biographies that Jacobsen provides to be fascinating. The author discusses many individuals that people with knowledge of World War II will easily recognize, i.e.; Hermann Goering, Albert Speer, and Heinrich Himmler, but the character studies of those not easily recognizable are the most fascinating. Dr. Leopold Alexander, a Boston psychiatrist and German Jew left Germany in 1933 for a fellowship in China and never returned to his homeland. He ended up working in a mental hospital outside Boston in 1934 and returned to Germany after the war to try and determine which of his former colleagues and students were guilty. Alexander was shocked by the deviance of Nazi science and noted they did not practice science, but a “really depraved pseudoscientific criminality.” Dr. Alexander also investigated crimes committed in the name of neuropsychiatry and neuropathology and in this capacity he came face to face with the odious Nazi belief of “untermenschen” that was the core of Hitler’s ideological framework and those individuals who implemented the murder thousands under the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring carried out by Dr. Karl Kleist, a former neurology professor of Alexander. We also meet Americans such as John J. McCloy who was in charge of setting up war crimes programs, but also coordinated policy regarding the transfer of Nazi scientists to the United States which he supported at the end of the war and later when he became High Commissioner for the American occupation zone replacing General Lucius Clay in 1949. Not all Americans that Jacobsen integrates into the narrative were guilty of facilitating Operation Paperclip. There were people like John Dolibois, a G2 Army intelligence officer who was sent to Dachau after its liberation to interrogate Nazi suspects and to investigate whether any important Nazis were hiding among the general prison population. Dolibois was shocked by the reaction of the men he interrogated as they could not believe they were being prosecuted and they used the excuse that they “were only following orders.” To their credit many State Department functionaries argued repeatedly to keep Nazi scientists who were proven criminals out of the United States, but the military establishment was difficult to defeat. Jacobsen’s discussion of IG Farben and their development of sarin and tabun gases are eye opening especially when the same scientists are the ones who helped develop it for the United States. Farben’s research reflects the depravity of the Nazi scientists, the same men whose expertise the US would use, rather than having these men face the prosecution and punishment they deserved. It was not just chemists the US was interested in. When the Washington Post uncovered “freezing experiments” conducted at Dachau were by men would be tortured, then frozen for a period of time, then Nazi doctors would try and revive them. The fact that the Nazi biologists involved were already working for the US was kept from the public. Throughout Operation Paperclip officials had to work just as hard recruiting scientists as they did keeping information away from Congress and the American public. This led to covert programs to smuggle scientists into the United States or the American zone in what became West Germany on many occasions. Perhaps the most interesting and disturbing chapter was entitled, “Science at Any Price,” which explained how the military was able to maneuver the State Department out of the business of approving visa for the Nazi scientists that they opposed admitting to the United States. From that point on the Joint Intelligence Objective Agency (JIOA) that had been created by the War Department was in charge of Operation Paperclip and the policy became; any scientist the Russians were interested in would be of interest to the US. By October, 1946 there were 233 German scientists in US military custody. At the same time the New York Times made the public aware of Operation Paperclip, the army had to go on a charm offensive by bringing out the most “wholesome looking German scientists they had working for them.” (250) Jacobsen artfully describes army cover-up tactics when one of their “new” employees had their Nazi past catch up to them, i.e., Georg Rickhey who oversaw production and the hanging of prisoners at Nordhausen, a rocket factory housed in a salt mine. When Rickhey was arrested he was acquitted in the Dora-Nordhausen trial as the judges were military and the future of the American missile program took precedence. Jacobsen weaves her narrative nicely with the use of trial transcripts and documents to support her thesis and reflects American angst that the Soviet Union was ahead in the “chemical warfare race.” In fact Karl Krauck, IG Farben’s head chemist and Goering’s main advisor on chemicals was being recruited by the US at the same time he was on trial. America’s rational was simple, “when working with ardent Nazis American handlers appear to have developed the ability to look the other way. Others…..looked straight at the man and saw only the scientist, not the Nazi.” (300) The Berlin Crisis that began on June 24, 1948 gave Operation Paperclip further momentum as the newly created CIA joined forces with the JIOA and led to the employ of Major General Reinhard Gehlen, the former head of Nazi intelligence operations against the Soviet Union. The US made a deal with the devil and put Gehlen’s organization at the forefront of the Cold War and made the Major General head of the entire American anti-communist intelligence operation. Jacobsen also zeroes in on the cases of Otto Ambros, Dr. Walter Schreiber, and Dr. Kurt Blome exploring their Nazi past, their involvement in war crimes, and how they came to work for the United States. Jacobsen follows that discussion with that of John J. McCloy’s commutation of Ambros’ and others sentences when he became High Commissioner, in part because of pressure from West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and the outbreak of the Korean War. A new shift in US policy evolved as it was now more important to be anti-communist as opposed to anti-Nazi. The saga of Dr. Walter Schreiber as described by Jacobsen is emblematic of the American governments experience with former Nazi scientists after the war. Schreiber was involved with medical experiments at Ravensbruck among his other crimes, but yet he was never prosecuted at Nuremberg. In fact he became a Russian witness against his former colleagues at the trial. His journey to the United States and his final eviction in 1952 is a twisted voyage that brings to the surface the role of the Air Force, CIA and other agencies that did everything they could bureaucratically to allow him to remain in the United States so that we could employ his knowledge of Nazi and Soviet chemical experiments. In 1952 when his presence in Texas reached the Boston press and went national, the fear of scandal that could reach the highest levels of the Truman administration finally saw the government force him to emigrate to Argentina with his family. What is evident is that being an anti-communist trumped being a Nazi war criminal. If you could assist in the Cold War battle any past crimes could be glossed over and explained away in the name of national security. Jacobsen completes her study by discussing the case of Arthur Rudolph, a man who oversaw slave labor at the Dora-Nordhausen complex where he was involved in working prisoners to death and a number of public hangings. Rudolph had worked for the US military and NASA for thirty-eight years when he was finally expelled, but even as his role in the Third Reich became known in 1983 there were elements in NASA who claimed the Justice Department was engaged in a witch hunt. Jacobsen’s magnificent study concludes by asking “What does last? The desire to seek the truth? Or, in the words of Jean Michel, the ability to take a stand against the monstrous distortion of history when it gives birth to false, foul and suspect myths?” This for me is the epitaph of Operation Paperclip, one of the most disturbing policies that the United States government has ever pursued.

  5. 4 out of 5

    KOMET

    Earlier in the year, I attended a book reading by Anne Jacobsen about this subject, which was complete with a rather impressive slide presentation. What she said about Operation Paperclip that day not only induced me to buy this book later that week. But more importantly, it forever altered my previous view of Operation Paperclip, which, from the time I first became aware of it sometime in the 1980s, I had regarded as a wholly noble effort on the part of the U.S. government to locate, retrieve, Earlier in the year, I attended a book reading by Anne Jacobsen about this subject, which was complete with a rather impressive slide presentation. What she said about Operation Paperclip that day not only induced me to buy this book later that week. But more importantly, it forever altered my previous view of Operation Paperclip, which, from the time I first became aware of it sometime in the 1980s, I had regarded as a wholly noble effort on the part of the U.S. government to locate, retrieve, and resettle in the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War a remarkable group of talented German scientists, whose managerial and technical expertise played no small part in helping the U.S. forge ahead of the Soviet Union in the space race. In this regard, Wernher von Braun came to mind. As someone with memories of the Apollo space program, I admired him greatly. Now, having read this rather weighty book, I will never see von Braun in the same light again. Not only had he been a member of the Nazi Party, he had also joined the SS sometime before the Second World War and had risen to the rank of Sturmbannführer (Major), heading the Mittelbau-Dora Planning Office (which was instrumental in the development and building --- with the use of slave labor from the concentration camps --- of the V2 rockets that Hitler unleashed against the Allies in 1944 and 1945). These facts were not only known by the U.S. government, but had either been downplayed by it or classified so that they would never come to light during von Braun's lifetime. What's more: Operation Paperclip also had its extensions in Germany itself through "feeder programs" such as Artichoke in places like Camp King, where captured Soviet spies were interrogated. A significant number of the scientists, engineers, doctors, and technicians who figured prominently in Operation Paperclip had engaged in wartime activities that, by the standards set at Nuremberg, were war crimes. For example, live medical experiments (whose grisly details I won't go into here) carried out at Auschwitz, Dachau, and the women's concentration camp at Ravensbrück. Whenever possible, the U.S. government availed themselves of the services of these Germans, provided it (i.e. the U.S. government) could help them elude or survive any adverse publicity about their pasts that sometimes surfaced after the war. Cold War pressures and imperatives made these scientists, engineers, doctors, and technicians indispensable to U.S. security interests. "For Operation Paperclip, moving a scientist from military custody to immigrant status required elaborate and devious preparation, but in the end the procedure proved to be infallible. Scientists in the southwestern or western United States, accompanied by military escort, were driven in an unmarked army jeep out of the country into Mexico either at Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juárez, or Tijuana. With him, each scientist carried two forms from the State Department, I-55 and I-255, each bearing a signature from the chief of the visa division and a proviso from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Section 42.323 of Title 22, signifying that the visa holder was 'a person whose admission is highly desirable in the national interest.' The scientist also had with him a photograph of himself and a blood test warranting that the did not have any infectious diseases. After consulate approval, the scientist was then let back into the United States, no longer under military guard but as a legal U.S. immigrant in possession of a legal visa. The pathway toward citizenship had begun. If the scientist lived closer to the East Coast than the West Coast, he went through the same protocols, except that he would exit the United States into Canada instead of Mexico and reeenter through the consulate at Niagara Falls." Reading this book wasn't easy because it demands that the reader make him/herself fully attentive to its contents. Nevertheless, it's well-worth the effort.

  6. 5 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    This was mind blowing. I'll think of something to comment on later. I'm kinda anxious to start one of her other books. Fans of post-WWII history: You want to read this. This was mind blowing. I'll think of something to comment on later. I'm kinda anxious to start one of her other books. Fans of post-WWII history: You want to read this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Quijano

    Sometime before quarantine, I was listening to Joe Rogan's podcast and he mentioned Operation Paperclip multiple times (I think it was the Alex Jones episode). I decided to see what Mr. Rogan was going on about and read a book on the subject. In my search for a book on the subject, this was the first one to pop up and it had good reviews so I decided to go with it. What I didn't realize was that it was all downhill from that point on. I vaguely knew that the US brought Nazi scientists to America Sometime before quarantine, I was listening to Joe Rogan's podcast and he mentioned Operation Paperclip multiple times (I think it was the Alex Jones episode). I decided to see what Mr. Rogan was going on about and read a book on the subject. In my search for a book on the subject, this was the first one to pop up and it had good reviews so I decided to go with it. What I didn't realize was that it was all downhill from that point on. I vaguely knew that the US brought Nazi scientists to America after the war. I am not sure I realized the extent and frivolousness of the program. The author makes the point that many of these Nazis scientists had few redeemable skills, were purely opportunists, and some were possibly Russian assets. She also hammers home the point that many of these scientists weren't just nonpolitical scientists who happened to be alive in Nazi Germany, but in fact, ideologues who knowingly participated in Germany's war crimes. The first quarter of the book was okay, but as it progressed the story became disjointed and difficult to follow. I think this book would be a great resource for a college student writing on this subject. As a casual read, this was kind of painful. If you simply find this subject interesting, you are better off reading a series of Wikipedia articles on the various people and subjects involved.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John

    Perhaps the 1955 Disneyland TV series “Man in Space”, mentioned in this book, best shows the American attitude towards using German science (Nazi science) to assist the country in furthering the ability to make war. This benign looking series, with lots of cartoons, some of them racist, talks about the captured V-2 rocket as the start of the U.S. missile/space program. Not mentioned in the “Man in Space” first show, is that the V-2 rocket was built by slaves for the Nazis. This fact is ignored a Perhaps the 1955 Disneyland TV series “Man in Space”, mentioned in this book, best shows the American attitude towards using German science (Nazi science) to assist the country in furthering the ability to make war. This benign looking series, with lots of cartoons, some of them racist, talks about the captured V-2 rocket as the start of the U.S. missile/space program. Not mentioned in the “Man in Space” first show, is that the V-2 rocket was built by slaves for the Nazis. This fact is ignored and “Disney-ized”. Not mentioned in the second Disney program on YouTube, where the effects of space on man are talked about, was the Nazi medical experiments on unwilling prisoners who were killed in order to test the effects of high altitude. It was ironic to be listening to accented German scientists in 1955 discussing rockets and space travel on this Disney show while reading this book. And yes, while hearing the Disney theme, “When You Wish Upon a Star”. Ignoring and hiding what imported Nazi scientists did in WWII is what this book is all about. Annie Jacobsen wrote a very good book about this post-WWII and cold war episode. It was thought provoking and uncomfortable to read about the U.S. continuing what the Germans started, especially the production of tons of weapons of mass chemical and biological destruction. Links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEJ9H... This is the short, scathing Tom Lehrer song called “Wernher von Braun” (“Once they go up, who cares where they go down? That’s not my department says Werhner von Braun”). Tom Lehrer captured the essence of the man, and Operation Paperclip, in a few sentences. Disney “Man in Space” series - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWJrv... Even after reading about how the V-2 rockets of Wernher von Braun were built by 60,000 concentration camp slaves, of which 30,000 died, it was fascinating watching him talk about the space program before there really was a space program. You can see that in 1955, he had the basic plan thought out for the Space Shuttle. That our space program was built on the backs of worked to death slaves is not something we’ve generally thought about all these years though. Ingrid, a friend of mine from the Netherlands, reminded me of this song, which also captures the essence of the German scientists from Operation Paperclip. “The I Was Not a Nazi Polka”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3fP1...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Taylor

    There are three major questions that this book raises: 1. The legal question: Was justice served? Despite the Nuremburg trials, given the immensity of the war crimes far too many people served token imprisonment and many of them were released early as a result of West German complaints that these were political prisoners punished by the victors. 2. The pragmatic question: Were these scientists needed to win the cold war? I think the answer is yes. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words and the pi There are three major questions that this book raises: 1. The legal question: Was justice served? Despite the Nuremburg trials, given the immensity of the war crimes far too many people served token imprisonment and many of them were released early as a result of West German complaints that these were political prisoners punished by the victors. 2. The pragmatic question: Were these scientists needed to win the cold war? I think the answer is yes. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words and the picture of a V2 being lunched at our White Sands proving ground at the close of the war in front of an old shack and a decrepit military vehicle provided the answer. I suspect but do not know, that had we not done what we did, when it came to the Cuban Missile Crisis our navy would have had to just wave and smile as the Russian fleet steamed past us on the way to Cuba. 3. The moral question: Did we act any better? We subjected our own researchers to medical experiments without informed consent, subjected troops to radiation exposure and engaged in enhanced interrogation techniques all of which were documented in this book. Granted the damage we did in the name of national defense was not on the scale of Nazi Germany but our legal system regularly applies the death sentence for a single murder so it would seem guilty is guilty. How then can we blame the German scientists for what they did in the name of national defense of their county?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick Black

    well-written, well-researched, generous and precise citations (except one odd line, where Mrs. Jacobsen writes "he resigned at least two of his five public, taxpayer-funded positions" -- didn't want to leg that one out, i guess), and definitely authoritative (the author is the first to publish on several documents declassified for this book). a good companion to Goudsmit's Alsos documents for the immediate postwar science rush through occupied germany and Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer o well-written, well-researched, generous and precise citations (except one odd line, where Mrs. Jacobsen writes "he resigned at least two of his five public, taxpayer-funded positions" -- didn't want to leg that one out, i guess), and definitely authoritative (the author is the first to publish on several documents declassified for this book). a good companion to Goudsmit's Alsos documents for the immediate postwar science rush through occupied germany and Von Braun, Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War, my preferred biography of ol' Wernher Magnus Maximilian. i didn't love the indignant tone regarding these engineers--i don't see how putting useful people in prison benefits anyone, but my theories of justice are unorthodox ones. that their presence greatly accelerated certain postwar american technologies cannot be disputed; i only wish that Paperclip had facilitated rapid rehabilitation of general commercial technologists, as opposed to purely military ones. millions of tons of sarin developed at great expense, for instance, only to be destroyed. couldn't we have enticed over some electric engineers?

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Elkin

    Well researched and it tells a dark tale. I am convinced that this introduced a poison into the American political stream that allowed some very bad people to gain power in certain institutions. Eisenhower warned us in 60, and JFK paid a price in 63. The end did not justify the means used to "combat" the USSR in the cold War. It is a story worth studying and how hubris allowed the US to go down this dismal path. Well researched and it tells a dark tale. I am convinced that this introduced a poison into the American political stream that allowed some very bad people to gain power in certain institutions. Eisenhower warned us in 60, and JFK paid a price in 63. The end did not justify the means used to "combat" the USSR in the cold War. It is a story worth studying and how hubris allowed the US to go down this dismal path.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    In 1945, Operation Overcast (renamed Operation Paperclip for the paperclips attached to the dossiers of the scientist) began. More than 1600 German scientist were secretly recruited to work for the United States. There was a race between the United States and the U.S.S. R. to obtain these scientists. At the time Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rabbi Steven Wise publically opposed the program. In 1998 President Clinton signed the Nazi War Crimes disclosure Act, which pushed through the decl In 1945, Operation Overcast (renamed Operation Paperclip for the paperclips attached to the dossiers of the scientist) began. More than 1600 German scientist were secretly recruited to work for the United States. There was a race between the United States and the U.S.S. R. to obtain these scientists. At the time Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rabbi Steven Wise publically opposed the program. In 1998 President Clinton signed the Nazi War Crimes disclosure Act, which pushed through the declassification of American’s intelligence records, including F.B. I., Army Intelligence and C.I.A. files of German agents, scientists and war criminals. Jacobsen accessed these documents, along with her research in various special collections, interviews with former intelligence personnel and relatives of the scientists. This makes Jacobsen’s account the most in-depth to date. The author tracked 21 of these Nazi scientists. Eight of her subjects worked directly with the upper echelon of the Nazi government. Some of these are Werner Von Braun, Hubertus Strughold, Walter Dornberger, and Arthur Rudolph, Fritz Hoffman. The author described in detail the hunt for the Nazi secret chemical and biological warfare sites and the hunt for the scientist. Jacobsen focuses mostly on biologists, chemists and physicians. She said the rocket scientist had already been widely written about. The author painstakingly covers the various scientist works for the Nazis; I wish she would have equally covered their work in American. We know the benefit of the work by the rocket scientist in developing the Saturn rocket. German Chemist Fritz Hoffman was assigned by the U.S. to research toxic agents for military use. He is credited with the development of Agent Orange. It was used to defoliate trees in Vietnam. Hoffman died in 1967. Other German scientist worked in the area of aeronautical medicine, research into diabetes, neurological disease and also developing equipment. I believe one of them developed the ear thermometer. The book is an achievement of investigative reporting and historical writing. I would have preferred Jacobsen provide us with enough information about the works preformed in America to help us answer the question ----was our deal with the devil worth it? I read this as an audio book downloaded from Audible. The author narrated the book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    For anyone who is a history buff, this is one of the best books telling the story of the closing days of WWII. Annie Jacobsen's research is phenomenal. Her book tells the story of the end of the war.... Germany knows it is going to lose......she doesn't even know who the final conqueror will be...Russia or the United States...the US is coming from the West and Russia is barreling towards Germany from the East. To me it is the most detailed story of the war from midway in 1944 to past the their For anyone who is a history buff, this is one of the best books telling the story of the closing days of WWII. Annie Jacobsen's research is phenomenal. Her book tells the story of the end of the war.... Germany knows it is going to lose......she doesn't even know who the final conqueror will be...Russia or the United States...the US is coming from the West and Russia is barreling towards Germany from the East. To me it is the most detailed story of the war from midway in 1944 to past the their final surrender in April of '45 and beyond !! Although I was aware that certain top German scientists were shepherded to the United States to continue their research, I had no idea that the total numbered was in the thousands !! It didn't seem to matter to certain US authorities that some of these men (plus a few women) were heinous criminals and deserved to be executed. All these 'patriots' knew was that they must bring this science to the United States. Considering that the end of WWII occurred almost 70 years ago, it is truly amazing the story that Anne Jacobsen has put together for all of us. If one has any doubt about the truth that she unveils, a few minutes reading of citations and data from archives and from subsequent generations of these men will remove any doubt from your mind. The special program that let these men continue their research included the promise of future citizenship !! was called " Operation Paperclip". And even the name given to the operation has some meaning. The book is long , but once 'hooked' you will find it difficult to put down.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vheissu

    This is a very readable book about a very ugly story. The general facts are well-known and Jacobsen provides riveting details, not new revelations. The book is nevertheless a journalistic treatment, not a scholarly one. Like her other book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, Operation Paperclip needs some better editing. For instance, on page 330, Jacobsen writes that in 1947 a group of Nazi war criminals travelled from Yalta to Moscow "by private jet." A jet, i This is a very readable book about a very ugly story. The general facts are well-known and Jacobsen provides riveting details, not new revelations. The book is nevertheless a journalistic treatment, not a scholarly one. Like her other book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, Operation Paperclip needs some better editing. For instance, on page 330, Jacobsen writes that in 1947 a group of Nazi war criminals travelled from Yalta to Moscow "by private jet." A jet, in 1947? A private jet in the Soviet Union? And when writing about postwar U.S. foreign policy, the least the reader can expect is that the author spells the name of George F. Kennan correctly (it's "Kennan," not "Keenan," p. 228). Such errors do little to boost the writer's credibility. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to my friends who enjoy spy yarns with no discernible good guys.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    You really get to know each one of the individual perpetrators in this book. Sometimes it can feel a bit repetitive and overwhelming, but overall there is a wealth of information that really sticks with you. In war films, I sometimes hear these names and remember reading about them in Operation Paperclip. It was enlightening to read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica V

    Annie Jacobsen’s books explore historical topics in that sweet intersection of military, intelligence, ethics, and defense science. She’s surprisingly well researched, as she’s gathering information on highly classified portions of history through declassified papers, FOIA requests, journals, documents hidden in attics, and personal interviews. She’s an author that reminds the world what good investigative journalism can do for a society. Operation Paperclip is the story of a postwar U.S. govern Annie Jacobsen’s books explore historical topics in that sweet intersection of military, intelligence, ethics, and defense science. She’s surprisingly well researched, as she’s gathering information on highly classified portions of history through declassified papers, FOIA requests, journals, documents hidden in attics, and personal interviews. She’s an author that reminds the world what good investigative journalism can do for a society. Operation Paperclip is the story of a postwar U.S. governmental program to bring Nazi scientists to the U.S. to work on military programs. These are hidden portions of U.S. history that can only start to be explored now. Jacobsen has a viewpoint on the moral issues that arise from the book. It was always clear when she was expressing her opinions and when she was presenting the perspectives of the decision makers of the time. I find her style more appealing and her work more credible because she does not try to hide behind objectivity’s veil. I listened to this book on Audible and also have a hard copy. I’d recommend having both. The reality for my life as a working mom is that I’d never get through this book reading it, so an audiobook is a must. The author is the narrator, which I just love! At first as I was listening to the audiobook, I thought the amount of names was going to be overwhelming. Jacobsen was fantastic about using the person’s name with a reminder of who they were. You don’t need to be an avid WWII history buff to understand this book. I also recommend buying a copy of the book. From page 463 - 566, there are the sections of Notes, Author Interviews, and Bibliography. Buy the book for these 100 pages plus the index and reading group guide; but the audiobook if that helps speed you through the content. I think this book is an important one to read- to revisit known ‘truths’ about parts of US history and to inform the present day. Military intelligence started working with Nazi scientists in May 1945. Jacobsen’s work shows how quickly the world pivoted from WWII to the Cold War. Historians say the Cold War began in 1947... hmm, perhaps works like this start to poke holes in that date. Victors of future wars will likewise face the conundrum of how to handle scientists deeply involved in defense projects. For civil society to demand more transparency and greater input on these decisions, books like this are required and encourage discussions on the ethics involved in these decisions.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    As advertised, the story of the program that brought the Paperclip scientists to America (and the story behind the Paperclip name). Not all that much is revealed about the projects the scientists worked on for the US, apart from what’s come to light with NASA, and mostly because not all that much of the full picture is known. Files remain classified, or become declassified but “lost.” The hall of mirrors still exists. But how it came about, that we now know. Or enough of a glimpse at least. Also As advertised, the story of the program that brought the Paperclip scientists to America (and the story behind the Paperclip name). Not all that much is revealed about the projects the scientists worked on for the US, apart from what’s come to light with NASA, and mostly because not all that much of the full picture is known. Files remain classified, or become declassified but “lost.” The hall of mirrors still exists. But how it came about, that we now know. Or enough of a glimpse at least. Also interesting is how the Paperclips are almost constantly referenced in Area 51 and yet the Nevada Test Site ranks maybe a paragraph here, barely a footnote in five hundred pages. The scope of the project was so much larger than that. And since the chapter on Project Artichoke and Bluebird and MKUltra is where things start to get interesting, you can tell which book aligned more with my interests. What happened after Strughold established the School of Aviation Medicine, or after Knemeyer, Putt, and co. came to Wright Field, that I’d like to know. And we may never know. Oddly, though, it’s an example of how there are very few dividing lines. Ideology, nationality. We’re led to believe those are unconquerable things but often, I don’t think that’s the case. Self-preservation wins all, or greed or the all-important consolidation of power. Politics does not stand in the way of doing business. Neither does morality, justice, honor. It may be a book about inhumanities and atrocities, but it’s also a book about what makes us human. We will do what we have to, telling ourselves it’s all right if it’s the means to an end.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sachin N

    Received this book as a part of the Goodreads giveaway. Was promised a hardcover but got a softcover but no complaints! This book is highly recommended to WWII buffs and historians who are looking for a complete and one-stop reference of Operation PaperClip. For the uninitiated, Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II. And, yes, these scientists were granted Received this book as a part of the Goodreads giveaway. Was promised a hardcover but got a softcover but no complaints! This book is highly recommended to WWII buffs and historians who are looking for a complete and one-stop reference of Operation PaperClip. For the uninitiated, Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II. And, yes, these scientists were granted security clearances to work in the US. The book is divided into five parts, each of which deals with a particular segment in the history of this operation. coming from the famous Anne Jacobson, this book is informative and seems to be well researched. 4 stars out of 5.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I got this book as a first-reads giveaway. It was a really fascinating, and horrifying look at a part of America's history I didn't know much about. The book provides thorough evidence that people in the US government knowingly brought scientists responsible for experimenting on people, mass murders and use of slave labor to America for their knowledge of chemical/biological warfare. It also shows the struggles of other Americans to make sure that war crimes were prosecuted and try to bring atte I got this book as a first-reads giveaway. It was a really fascinating, and horrifying look at a part of America's history I didn't know much about. The book provides thorough evidence that people in the US government knowingly brought scientists responsible for experimenting on people, mass murders and use of slave labor to America for their knowledge of chemical/biological warfare. It also shows the struggles of other Americans to make sure that war crimes were prosecuted and try to bring attention to the fact that some of those responsible were given citizenship and employment by the US government. I'd highly recommend the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Richardson

    Incredible and fascinating. At times I found it difficult following all the different scientists and their atrocities and research in Germany while trying to maintain the connection to what they did later in the US. However, I found the book to be an amazing and interesting historical account of this post- WWII period. Operation Paperclip is shrouded in controversy and certainly poses the question, does the ends justify the means? I loved this book, and I learned a lot!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeimy

    This comprehensive book follows a handful of the 1,600+ Nazi war criminals the United States brought over from Germany after the Nuremberg tribunals. Readers learn about the atrocities these men committed in the name of science during the war and that papers were falsified so that these men could use their expertise to advance the U.S.'s chemical weapon arsenal and put the nation ahead in the Space Race. This comprehensive book follows a handful of the 1,600+ Nazi war criminals the United States brought over from Germany after the Nuremberg tribunals. Readers learn about the atrocities these men committed in the name of science during the war and that papers were falsified so that these men could use their expertise to advance the U.S.'s chemical weapon arsenal and put the nation ahead in the Space Race.

  22. 5 out of 5

    B. Barron

    Wow. Our government sucks.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Johnny T

    Finally, I finished this just one month shy of a year from when I started it! This book can be dense at times because of how much information you're sifting through, but it is definitely worth it. Addressing the elephant in the room: is this book 'biased' as some care to point out? I would say no. The book certainly speaks of what went on in Operation Paperclip with distaste, but that's honestly mostly because of the level of deception and underhandedness the program underwent. I honestly don't b Finally, I finished this just one month shy of a year from when I started it! This book can be dense at times because of how much information you're sifting through, but it is definitely worth it. Addressing the elephant in the room: is this book 'biased' as some care to point out? I would say no. The book certainly speaks of what went on in Operation Paperclip with distaste, but that's honestly mostly because of the level of deception and underhandedness the program underwent. I honestly don't believe there's any way to present this kind of material without commenting on how corrupt the program quickly became. Moreover, this approach to the material doesn't distort any of the information itself (to my knowledge) and so I would say no, it is not biased. One of the scariest parts of Operation Paperclip is how much it opens your eyes to how much is probably going on in the government without any knowledge. The fact that in the 50s the US Army had one of the most potent nerve agents ever created is terrifying, and it only gets worse. The next scariest part, however, is what occurred under the moniker of 'necessity'. Yes, tensions with the Soviets were rising, and it is entirely possible that the US would have lost the space race were it not for the technology they gained through Operation Paperclip. However, at a certain point, the integral line of necessity gets blurred way too much. The program started out with the intent of filtering out actual Nazi war-criminals and eventually devolved into letting in confirmed war criminals and inner-circle Nazis because of the edge they could give the US government. Eventually a CIA agent was essentially murdered because the CIA decided it was necessary to determine what would happen when someone was covertly drugged with LSD. However, this still leaves you with some questions. It's easy to sit back in comparatively peaceful times and pass it off as evil, but the times were quite different. So what is my perspective on this? I understand why the program was born and what drove it, but I think it quickly became corrupted with a sort of greed for knowledge that was simply no longer tangential to the cause of warding off potential Soviet threats. Without all of this, history would have surely changed--most likely for the worst. I think what is best for us going forward is to take this as a lesson in history and learn from it, and try our best to correct what is contingent in the future, and not whatever is immutable in the past.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Page

    I have now listened to all but one of Annie Jacobsen's audiobooks and the topics seem to be getting better and better. To be honest I go this book to listen to because I thought it was going to be all about the rocket scientists that were brought to the US under Operation Paperclip because I thought that was the main reason for the program...I was wrong. This book was about so much more and I can't believe what I learned about this time in history. Of course Annie did tough on Dr. Werner Von Bra I have now listened to all but one of Annie Jacobsen's audiobooks and the topics seem to be getting better and better. To be honest I go this book to listen to because I thought it was going to be all about the rocket scientists that were brought to the US under Operation Paperclip because I thought that was the main reason for the program...I was wrong. This book was about so much more and I can't believe what I learned about this time in history. Of course Annie did tough on Dr. Werner Von Braun and the V2 rocket engineers a bit but diving into all the other scientists that were part of this program truly blew my mind. Learning more about the chemical warfare work that was done and how advanced it was put chills down my spine. If this was to have been used our world would not be what it is today - and that is scary (not good). This whole program was also interesting that it was able to be kept a secret when some were convicted and then some given contracts by the USG. I hope Annie Jacobson keeps researching topics like this and her other works because her writing is truly fascinating and educational.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ailith Twinning

    I won't call it what I think it is, because Annie may just be a shit writer. But here's a few bullet points * Neither a journalist, nor a historian, EVER provides the official explanation of a government of, or for, its actions without comment. Never. You do it, and you have neither credibility nor integrity. One example being the "Long Telegram" where an emotional overview of the document is provided, and, that's it. No further comment. Annie feels the need to speculate on the personal strife be I won't call it what I think it is, because Annie may just be a shit writer. But here's a few bullet points * Neither a journalist, nor a historian, EVER provides the official explanation of a government of, or for, its actions without comment. Never. You do it, and you have neither credibility nor integrity. One example being the "Long Telegram" where an emotional overview of the document is provided, and, that's it. No further comment. Annie feels the need to speculate on the personal strife between any two scientists or other of their personal motives and testimony, but the state gets a free pass to say whatever it wants, thru her. * If the government declassifies something expressly for your book, THIS government, the one that tortures and murders and imprisons every whistle blower, and none of the war criminals and/or corrupt officials (or bankers, for that matter) exposed thereby get so much as a slap on the wrist? If this government declassified something expressly for you, you either sold yourself to it, or, worse, you didn't have to. * Outrage porn is unbecoming at best, and manipulative whataboutism at worst. * What is done to win a war can be both necessary to that end, and also indefensibly evil. A war itself can be indefensibly evil. *If you don't already know the broad strokes of this story, at least, I do recommend reading it -- as they say "If you wanna know about Moscow, read the Times. If you wanna know about DC, read Pravda." It has historical information of note about Germany. It has nearly none about the US, and the way what is there is presented is only useful for knowing what the Party Line is meant to be. Which is, in fact, useful. . . just frustrating and ugly. What's disturbing is that, even in this, as another reviewer called it, "Leave it to Beaver" version of this history, America is still clearly evil. America's BEST face, the one the Pentagon okayed the print of, is world-conquering, genocidal madman. That's. . . . that's dark. NOTE: I base the assumption it was run thru basic censorship on the fact she said something was "declassified for this book", as opposed to acquired thru a FOIA request or leak. Maybe she meant FOIA, maybe, just maybe, it was declassified without any real thought jsut 'cause "who cares?", but the reasonable assumption is one of "access", you only get it if you're playing nice.

  26. 4 out of 5

    E.

    This is a phenomenal book. Well written and meticulously researched, this book will open a lot of people's eyes about our willingness to look the other way, even if it comes to working with Nazi scientists that were responsible for the death of thousands of prisoners and slaves. The book focuses on 21 scientists to a varying degree, ranging from Nazi rocket scientists like von Braun and Dornberger to chemist like Otto Ambrose and biologists like Walter Schreiber and Kurt Blome. While their field This is a phenomenal book. Well written and meticulously researched, this book will open a lot of people's eyes about our willingness to look the other way, even if it comes to working with Nazi scientists that were responsible for the death of thousands of prisoners and slaves. The book focuses on 21 scientists to a varying degree, ranging from Nazi rocket scientists like von Braun and Dornberger to chemist like Otto Ambrose and biologists like Walter Schreiber and Kurt Blome. While their fields are vastly different, they all had one thing in common: ardent Nazi, personally responsible for deaths of hundreds, and their programs were responsible for the deaths of thousands. But what is perhaps more unforgivable are the Americans that were willing to see past all that and decide to bring them over to the States. Men like General Loucks and High Commissioner McCloy should also equally share the shame and infamy. The part of the book that impacted me the most was the section on our experiments with LSD. The author documented a particular troubling incident that involved the CIA purposely experimenting on its own employees without consent, leading to the death of one of the unwitting victims. Truly heinous stuff. Kudos to the author for highlighting it. Overall, this is a very informative read and I think anybody with any interest in US history should give it a glance. I can't recommend it enough.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jarrod

    If you ever thought the US Space program was created and developed under innocent themes, you may want to read this book. Thoroughly researched and documented, Annie Jacobsen lays out the backstory around the use of Nazi scientists to develop the US space program. She lays out the foundations of what the scientist did to aid the Nazi regime and their involvement in the war machine and their role in the Holocaust. An eye-opening account of the horrors that were overlooked by the US Army and space If you ever thought the US Space program was created and developed under innocent themes, you may want to read this book. Thoroughly researched and documented, Annie Jacobsen lays out the backstory around the use of Nazi scientists to develop the US space program. She lays out the foundations of what the scientist did to aid the Nazi regime and their involvement in the war machine and their role in the Holocaust. An eye-opening account of the horrors that were overlooked by the US Army and space programs in order to develop the rocketry and science to have us compete with the Soviets and compete in the cold war. With several first-hand accounts we see that many of these scientist had a key role and yet downplayed their involvement with the Third Reich. Even later in life when they could come clean and admit their wrong-doing they chose to try to save-face instead of showing remorse. It's amazing to look back and see what we overlooked to create a space program and what was involved. It's also a bit dis-heartening to know how far behind we were scientifically and that instead of taking their knowledge and learning from it to recreate the science, we used them instead. We recovered thousands of documents and couldn't replicate the science, so we had to use the Nazi perpetrators to develop our space program. This is an important telling of the story behind the launch of the US Space program.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    This one is hard for me to rate or review. And I'm not sure why. There are a lot of variables and I don't have time to get into them at the present. So in no particular order, let's start with the fact that this is a topic I know well, so I do not find myself surprised by this revelation -- indeed I think it's well known to many -- like I suspect the author did and wants the read to. Because I have read and am reading a number of the author's other books and as someone who has published over 25 This one is hard for me to rate or review. And I'm not sure why. There are a lot of variables and I don't have time to get into them at the present. So in no particular order, let's start with the fact that this is a topic I know well, so I do not find myself surprised by this revelation -- indeed I think it's well known to many -- like I suspect the author did and wants the read to. Because I have read and am reading a number of the author's other books and as someone who has published over 25 books over my life and who has taught all types of writing at multiple colleges and universities AND has also worked as an editor and in publishing in nearly every capacity, I feel fairly authorized to render a legit opinion that might carry more professional weight than that of the non-professional book lover. If that sounds snobby, forgive me, but I would expect a nuclear engineer with at least three degrees and 35 years of experience to know more than someone lacking those qualifications, and I wouldn't view them as snobby at all for stating so. My point then is, I think Ms Jacobsen is a very good writer and she certainly has the accomplishments, plaudits, achievements, etc., to attest to that. However -- and this may be a pet peeve, so this may not apply to everyone -- I've always thought that she's TOO good of a writer and most likely too intelligent as well to have to resort to what I view as little more than titles resembling what one might see in the National Enquirer or something of that type, and if not the actual titles, than the tone initially taken inside the covers -- "Can you BELIEVE this? OMG? This is happening in America RIGHT NOW!" -- when many readers probably knew such things long before she did, if not before she was even born. So, yes, I know it's a marketing ploy, I get that, but I've always viewed such as not necessary for the truly talented, so if one resorts to such on nearly every book, that's either a sign of a desperate publisher anxious to catch eyeballs and sell books to suckers, or a writer who seems to lack confidence and thus resorts to tricks most likely beneath them and their talent. But them I'm old school and most likely a dinosaur, so WTF do I know, right? The truth is, as much distaste as I have for gimmicks such as this, they DO often pay off in additional sales, which is the whole purpose for the publisher and a major incentive for most any author, so who am I to blame someone for wanting as much success as possible if success if determined in units moved, revenue made as opposed to sufficient peer respect or some such useless crap like that. So let me move on to something more tangible. Despite the fact that this author often writes on topics as though gushing over some stunning newfound secret being shared with the rest of the world -- which is why I detest shows like 20/20, 60 minutes, etc., because of the fake, transparent "Do you really mean they're doing that?" when everyone in that room damn sure knows and has known for years that of course they do, thus treating their audience like idiots. However, after what we've seen in 2020, which would be too much to even count, but I'll mention simply the millions of US science denials for starters, Americans have proven me wrong because while I've known we've been sliding down the global scale in terms of out educational abilities and achievements, I never really knew how fucking DUMB Americans are on the whole until this year. It's stunning. I've long known of the largely confirmed rumors of various "plots" to dumb down the US herd over many years. Well, if those conspiracy theories hold any truth, than Russell or Dewey or the alleged collaboration of the bankers and the Christians dating back to the 1940s, or hell, all of them or none of them ... in any case, if such existed, the originators of such an idea must be ecstatic in their graves because it's worked far better than anyone could ever have imagined, I think. Not only are most Americans barely literate, but as was allegedly the goal, critical thinking skills no longer exist, the irony being CEOs of the top companies often interviewed in Forbes or quoted in The Economist say they no longer want specialists but liberal arts generalists, particularly English major grads, because apparently the thought is virtually no majors focus on or even teach critical thinking whereas the core classes I took as an undergrad and the first classes I took as a grad student were ONLY on critical thinking. And I was deluged with mega-offers from all over the country for infinitely more than I'd ever thought possible, and I've laughed with some other retired people -- even a couple of generals -- because we used to be respected back in the day but have been looked down upon by many for a long time because we only had three or four degrees in different, seemingly useless areas instead of five PhDs in international relations, politics, policy, etc., yet we're now the ones back in demand for many reasons. Hah! Back to the original point though. It's become obvious that despite the fact that virtually no American buys more than one book per year, while the literal majority buys none, and far fewer even read a book, IF one wants to even try to sell books these days -- with fewer publishers, fewer chances, smaller press runs, much smaller marketing budgets -- I guess it makes it necessary to resort to gimmicks to compete with idiot smart phones and the like for eyeballs, so I really shouldn't blame Ms. Jacobsen for resorting to such -- it's most likely a necessity these days. And additionally, to be candid, the writing is typical of her, which is to say high quality -- and I rarely say that, so were she to read this, if she gave a crap about anything, that would be rare praise from me, AND the topic IS interesting for those who aren't familiar with it, so while I would like to give this book fewer starts for my own personal opinions, I feel I should give it more stars for being as appealing as possible for the average reader unfamiliar with this story, and thus I compromised with four stars, but I am recommending it because for those unfamiliar with this historical and controversial event, I think it's important they know and I think this is a good book to help them know. So, despite my nitpicking, definitely recommended!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Merritt Webb

    This book follows 21 Nazi scientists the US recruited after WW2...some of whom were war criminals. It was a very turbulent time, and the US sought to buttress defenses against the Soviet Union. Hundreds of scientists were recruited, but this book focuses on 21. One of the most interesting parts was just how much Cold War paranoia and fear drove us to abandon our ideals. (Not unlike what is happening with the war on terror now.) Another interesting aspect was that the US is still trying to keep thi This book follows 21 Nazi scientists the US recruited after WW2...some of whom were war criminals. It was a very turbulent time, and the US sought to buttress defenses against the Soviet Union. Hundreds of scientists were recruited, but this book focuses on 21. One of the most interesting parts was just how much Cold War paranoia and fear drove us to abandon our ideals. (Not unlike what is happening with the war on terror now.) Another interesting aspect was that the US is still trying to keep this secret despite the Second world war ending about 60 years ago.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ned Leffingwell

    This is a crazy story. I had heard of Operation Paperclip from the book Acid Dreams but I could not find many books on the subject. This text does a good job of covering the program and shedding a light on a morally dubious Cold War program. If you needed reassurance that the Nazis were evil, self-serving monsters then read this book and be shocked at how many of them were hired by the U.S. government after WWII.

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