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

Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America. By Annie Jacobsen. New York and Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 2014. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xii, 438. $30.00 ISBN: 978-0316-22104-7 and The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men. By Eric Lichtblau. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. Maps. Notes. Index. Pp, 227. $28.00 ISBN: 978-0-547-66919-9

In 1974, Clarence Lasby wrote Project Paperclip: German Scientists and the Cold War. It received excellent reviews but drew little attention from the public. With little cooperation from the military, Lasby documented the exploitation of Nazi advanced technology and those involved. Though labeled "scientists," few were. Most were engineers, as was Werner von Braun (a brilliant rocket engineer and manager of engineers) and his brother, Magnus. There was little screening of the "rocket experts." Though the employment of Germans in the US caused an immediate outcry of protest (led by German-American immigrant Albert Einstein), the public was assured those selected had been carefully screened and included no "ardent Nazis" or "alleged or confirmed war criminals." A reported 1,700 "scientists" were employed in the US under Paperclip. "Screening" was done, it seems, with clouded glasses.

Project Paperclip did not "remain the standard source" nor will Operation Paperclip. But Annie Jacobsen, building on Lasby's study, has accomplished a masterful job of scholarship; one of inestimable value to the historical record. Her narrative covering exploitation of the Germans is rich in detail for which she credits the Freedom of Information Act, the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, and attorneys in the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations. All this and more set the stage for The Nazis Next Door, which offers an abridged version of what is covered in detail in Project Paperclip. The Nazis Next Door further covers the Nazis and alleged war criminals that slipped into the US as immigrants. Some were recruited by the CIA to spy on the Soviet Union. Their service to the Third Reich served as a favorable reference, since the Nazis were indeed "ardent anti-Communists."

While Project Paperclip is long on scholarship, The Nazis Next Door is the story that should appeal to lay readers, especially young students. Lichblau is a journalist who knows how to tell a story. In addition to revealing long-suppressed facts, he delivers truly unbelievable plots with suspense and well-drawn characters, both evil and good, the former being ardent Nazis, SS Officers, even alleged and proven war criminals. Also exposed are American military and civilian officials who lied to the American public, even destroying or altering official documents--all justified in the name of promoting "national interests."

Both books are replete with stories of former Nazi Party members brought to the US. One example is SS General Karl Wolff, commander of all German forces in Italy and former Chief of Staff to Heinrich Himmler. Only weeks before the end of the Third Reich, he met with Allen Dulles, an American agent in Switzerland (who later headed the postwar CIA) to cut a deal. Wolff would provide his knowledge of the Soviet Union, and Dulles would see to it that the SS General would escape prosecution for war crimes.

Second only to Dr. Wernher von Braun in achieving fame and fortune in America is former Luftwaffe officer Dr. Hubertus Strughold, M.D. Once director of the Aviation Medical Research Institute in the Third Reich, he was recruited by the USAF and rose to head its School of Aviation Medicine in San Antonio, Texas. Air Force officials insist "we could not have achieved our pre-eminent position in space exploration without the contributions of the German-American." What was long held secret, however, is that he had been listed on the Central Registry of War Criminals for having used live prisoners in his research for the Luftwaffe.

Major General Dr. Walter Schreiber joined Dr. Strughold at the School of Aviation Medicine. A news article revealed he had approved some of the ghastly medical experiments which the Nazis performed on hopeless victims. Unable to defend the indefensible, the Air Force moved him not to West Germany, where he might have faced trial for war crimes, but to safer confines in Argentina.

At the lower end of the Nazi hierarchy were concentration camp guards, many of whom found their way into the US as immigrants, some by altering their past, others on advice from immigration officials to eliminate anything suggesting service to the Third Reich. Some were enlisted as spies and were ushered through the immigration process. A classic case is Tom Soobzokov, a Russian who served in the Waffen SS, alleged to have been a member of a death squad eliminating Jews and Communists. He became a CIA agent and FBI informant.

There are a few errors or oversights in both books. Jacobsen refers to the Messerchmitt 163 aircraft as a jet fighter, though it was rocket-powered. She also writes that "On the morning of April 11, 1945, a unit of the 104th Infantry Division ... entered the slave tunnels at Nordhausen." Actually, it was an advance unit of the 3rd Armored Division that entered the town of Nordhausen, the underground rocket factory being a few miles away. They found hundreds of dead and dying slave laborers dumped there when they were no longer productive. This incident is covered in horrible detail in Spearhead In The West 1941-1945, the division history, which Jacobsen and her researchers overlooked.

Lichtblau, as do other writers, insists on calling high-school graduate Arthur Rudolph a "rocket scientist," when he was production manager of the V2 rocket. And he accuses General Patton and the military with covering up the war crimes of the rocket underground factory. Not likely. As soon as Nordhausen and the surrounding area were secured, a reporter from Stars And Stripes showed up; his report, "Tunnels of Hell: 22,000 Nazi Slaves Made V2s In Deep Underground Factory," appeared on the front page on April 17, 1945. What was found at Nordhausen; the nearby Dora concentration camp; and at Mittelwerk, the underground rocket factory, was never suppressed.

I recommend both books for those who want to look at a dark chapter of World War II and its aftermath.

Robert Huddleston, a combat pilot in Europe, served briefly with Project Lusty, the Army Air Forces exploitation effort
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Author:Huddleston, Robert
Publication:Air Power History
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2015
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