The United States recruited Nazi scientists after the end of World War II and put them to work on secret military and intelligence programs during the Cold War -- that is the astonishing topic of a new book published this week.
In "Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America," journalist Annie Jacobsen documents how the Joint Chiefs of Staff brought more than 1,600 German scientists to work for the U.S. after 1945.
The book describes the roles of 21 Nazi scientists who were part of Operation Paperclip, drawing on declassified intelligence and historical records to detail their startling role in America's Cold War effort. According to Jacobson, the scientists had helped Adolf Hitler to develop weapons such as sarin gas and weaponized bubonic plague, and several had even stood trial for war crimes.
But the U.S. military was consumed by a new looming menace, the prospect of 'total war' with the Soviets post WWII. "Operation Paperclip" employed the scientific brainpower of the Third Reich to help develop America's arsenal of rockets and chemical and biological weapons, as well as aviation and space medicine.
The intelligence community saw another use for the Nazi scientists, Jacobson adds. They were running a secret black site in Germany to test the effects of LSD on captured Soviet spies, part of the Cold War battle to stay ahead in the art of mind-control.
Jacobsen explains in an excerpt of the book published on The Daily Beast:
In an offshoot of Operation Paperclip, the CIA teamed up with Army, Air Force and Naval Intelligence to run one of the most nefarious, classified, enhanced interrogation programs of the Cold War. The work took place inside a clandestine facility in the American zone of occupied Germany, called Camp King. The facility’s chief medical doctor was Operation Paperclip’s Dr. Walter Schreiber, the former Surgeon General of the Third Reich. When Dr. Schreiber was secretly brought to America—to work for the U.S. Air Force in Texas—his position was filled with another Paperclip asset, Dr. Kurt Blome, the former Deputy Surgeon General of the Third Reich and the man in charge of the Nazi’s program to weaponize bubonic plague. The activities that went on at Camp King between 1946 and the late 1950s have never been fully accounted for by either the Department of Defense or the CIA.
"Does accomplishment cancel out past crimes?" Jacobsen asks in her book, noting that several Nazi scientists were celebrated with awards in America, and one had a government building named after him.
She writes: "Some officials believed that by endorsing the Paperclip program they were accepting the lesser of two evils – that if America didn't recruit these scientists, the Soviet Communists surely would. Other generals and colonels admired and respected these men and said so."