Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why the U.S. government brought Nazi scientists to America after World War II...

The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have put an end to World War II, but they weren’t the only destructive weaponry developed during the war. From nerve and disease agents to the feared and coveted V-1 and V-2 rockets, Nazi scientists worked on an impressive arsenal. As the war came to a close in 1945, both American and Russian officials began scheming to get that technology for themselves. So it came to pass that 71 years ago today, 88 Nazi scientists arrived in the United States and were promptly put to work for Uncle Sam.

In the days and weeks after Germany’s surrender, American troops combed the European countryside in search of hidden caches of weaponry to collect. They came across facets of the Nazi war machine that the top brass were shocked to see, writer Annie Jacobsen told NPR’s All Things Considered in 2014. Jacobson wrote about both the mission and the scientists in her book, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists To America.

“One example was they had no idea that Hitler had created this whole arsenal of nerve agents,” Jacobsen says. “They had no idea that Hitler was working on a bubonic plague weapon. That is really where Paperclip began, which was suddenly the Pentagon realizing, ‘Wait a minute, we need these weapons for ourselves.’"

But just studying the weapons wasn't enough, and the U.S. military wasn’t the only country eyeing Nazi scientists—their one-time allies in the Soviet Union were doing the same thing. If the Soviets were going to press their former enemies into service, American military officials didn't want to be left behind. So the U.S. government hatched a plan to bring 88 Nazi scientists captured during the fall of the Nazi Germany back to America and get them back on the job. Only this time, according to, they were working for the U.S. under a project known as “Operation Paperclip.” Full story...

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