After WWII ended in 1945, victorious Russian and American intelligence teams began a treasure hunt throughout occupied Germany for military and scientific booty. They were looking for things like new rocket and aircraft designs, medicines, and electronics. But they were also hunting down the most precious “spoils” of all: the scientists whose work had nearly won the war for Germany. The engineers and intelligence officers of the Nazi War Machine.
The U.S. Military rounded up Nazi scientists and brought them to America. It had originally intended merely to debrief them and send them back to Germany. But when it realized the extent of the scientists knowledge and expertise, the War Department decided it would be a waste to send the scientists home. Following the discovery of flying discs (foo fighters), particle/laser beam weaponry in German military bases, the War Department decided that NASA and the CIA must control this technology, and the Nazi engineers that had worked on this technology.
There was only one problem: it was illegal. U.S. law explicitly prohibited Nazi officials from immigrating to America — and as many as three-quarters of the scientists in question had been committed Nazis. Convinced that German scientists could help America’s post-war efforts, President Harry Truman agreed in September 1946 to authorize “Project Paperclip,” a program to bring selected German scientists to work on America’s behalf during the “Cold War”
However, Truman expressly excluded anyone found “to have been a member of the Nazi party and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazism or militarism.”
The War Department’s Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) conducted background investigations of the scientists. In February 1947, JIOA Director Bosquet Wev submitted the first set of scientists’ dossiers to the State and Justice Departments for review.
The Dossiers were damning. Samuel Klaus, the State Departments representative on the JIOA board, claimed that all the scientists in this first batch were “ardent Nazis.” Their visa requests were denied. Wev was furious. He wrote a memo warning that “the best interests of the United States have been subjugated to the efforts expended in ‘beating a dead Nazi horse.’” He also declared that the return of these scientists to Germany, where they could be exploited by America’s enemies, presented a “far greater security threat to this country than any former Nazi affiliations which they may have had or even any Nazi sympathies that they may still have.”
When the JIOA formed to investigate the backgrounds and form dossiers on the Nazis, the Nazi Intelligence leader Reinhard Gehlen met with the CIA director Allen Dulles. Dulles and Gehlen hit it off immediately. Gehlen was a master spy for the Nazis and had infiltrated Russia with his vast Nazi Intelligence network. Dulles promised Gehlen that his Intelligence unit was safe in the CIA.
Apparently, Wev decided to sidestep the problem. Dulles had the scientists dossier’s re-written to eliminate incriminating evidence. As promised, Allen Dulles delivered the Nazi Intelligence unit to the CIA, which later opened many umbrella projects stemming from Nazi research. (MK-ULTRA / ARTICHOKE, OPERATION MIDNIGHT CLIMAX)
Military Intelligence “cleansed” the files of Nazi references. By 1955, more than 760 German scientists had been granted citizenship in the U.S. and given prominent positions in the American scientific community. Many had been longtime members of the Nazi party and the Gestapo, had conducted experiments on humans at concentration camps, had used slave labour, and had committed other war crimes.
In a 1985 expose in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Linda Hunt wrote that she had examined more than 130 reports on Project Paperclip subjects–and every one “had been changed to eliminate the security threat classification.”
President Truman, who had explicitly ordered no committed Nazis to be admitted under Project Paperclip, was evidently never aware that his directive had been violated. State Department archives and the memoirs of officials from that era confirm this. In fact, according to Clare Lasby’s book Operation Paperclip, project officials “covered their designs with such secrecy that it bedevilled their own President; at Potsdam he denied their activities and undoubtedly enhanced Russian suspicion and distrust,” quite possibly fuelling the Cold War even further. A good example of how these dossiers were changed is the case of Wernher von Braun. A September 18, 1947, report on the German rocket scientist stated, “Subject is regarded as a potential security threat by the Military Governor.”
The following February, a new security evaluation of Von Braun said, “No derogatory information is available on the subject…It is the opinion of the Military Governor that he may not constitute a security threat to the United States.” Here are a few of the 700 suspicious characters who were allowed to immigrate through Project Paperclip. ...