Operation Paperclip was a secret United States Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians (many of whom were formerly registered members of the Nazi Party and some of whom had leadership roles in the Nazi Party), including Wernher von Braun’s rocket team, were recruited and brought to the United States for government employment from post-Nazi Germany (after World War II). (Source)
ON May 19, 1945, a military transport plane with windows blackened to hide its notorious cargo dropped out of the steely gray skies over Washington, D.C., and lurched down the landing field. As the propellers slowed and finally stopped, three figures stepped out of the aircraft. The first was a middle-aged man with a scarred face whose slight build belied his importance.
Herbert Wagner had been the chief missile design engineer for the Henschel Aircraft Company and, more importantly, the creator of the HS-293, the first German guided missile used in combat during World War II. As of that moment, he and his two assistants were setting another historical precedent: they were the first German scientists to set foot on American soil at the end of the war.
Anxious to tap Wagner’s expertise in the design of glider bombs for use against Japan, a U.S. Navy team smuggled him into the United States and then kept him hidden from immigration authorities so as to avoid troubling questions about his Nazi past. And no wonder. Wagner was reported to be an ardent member of the Sturmabteilung (the brown-shirted storm troopers) as well as four other Nazi organizations.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) officially established the first secret recruitment program, called Operation Overcast, on July 20, 1945, so named by the German scientist’ family members for the housing camp where they were held in Bavaria.1 In November 1945, the covert operation was renamed Operation Paperclip for the number of paperclips needed in gathering the dossiers of each scientist.
At a secret black site in the years after the end of WWII, CIA and US intelligence operatives tested LSD and other interrogation techniques on captured Soviet spies—all with the help of former Nazi doctors. An excerpt from Annie Jacobsen’s Operation Paperclip:
It was 1946 and World War II had ended less than one year before. In Top Secret memos being circulated in the elite ‘E’ ring of the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing for ‘total war’ with the Soviets—to include atomic, chemical, and biological warfare. They even set an estimated start date of 1952. The Joint Chiefs believed that the U.S. could win this future war, but not for reasons that the general public knew about. Since war’s end, across the ruins of the Third Reich, U.S. military officers had been capturing and then hiring Hitler’s weapons makers, in a Top Secret program that would become known as Operation Paperclip. Soon, more than 1,600 of these men and their families would be living the American dream, right here in the United States. From these Nazi scientists, U.S. military and intelligence organizations culled knowledge of Hitler’s most menacing weapons including sarin gas and weaponized bubonic plague.