Operation Paperclip Essay Example

Published: 2017-08-01 15:34:58
Operation Paperclip Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: World War 2 History Intelligence services Science
Pages: 12
Wordcount: 3032 words
26 min read

According to the CIA report, there was a secret project code-named Operation Paperclip that was meant to bring the Nazi scientists to the US after World War II. During the same period, the Russians were also trying to recruit these specialists. The war’s end implied different allied parties were coming together and forming two blocks. The U.K., France, and the United States controlled West Germany, while the Soviets controlled East Germany. Apart from dividing the country, the Soviets and the US were in a mad rush to recruit as many former Nazi scientists as possible. The CIA wanted to use the scientists to advance their Agenda of National security as well as to keep the “rare minds” away from the Soviets. A plan was formulated to smuggle the German scientists into the US to work for various government agencies. When the United States occupied Germany, it vowed to stop all the military experiments. However, the operation went on secretly under the US watch. The military and the CIA gained a lot of achievements under the supervision of German scientists. It was the Germans who proposed and developed the intercontinental ballistic missile. The projects were extensive, and many types of chemicals and weapons were developed. The project was named Paperclip, and it had been classified for a long time.

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Eyes and Ears of the US Government

The collapse of the Nazi regime made it easy for the CIA to recruit scientists. Hitler had assembled his team of scientists who worked on various projects that would help in the war. The names of the scientists who were loyal to Hitler were written in what is famously known as the Osenberg list. An American soldier found the list, which was critical in helping the CIA to recruit great German minds. When the scientists were approached, they had two options: either work with the US or face imprisonment or even death. An organization known as the Gehlen foundation was started to help the CIA with recruiting German spies. The organization was headed by Reinhard Gehlen, a former NAZI general. Gehlen was an excellent secret agent whose unique ability to exploit bargaining positions and foresee the sequence of events. All these qualities helped him to predict the immediate defeat of the Third Reich in 1945 and surrender to the US forces. After his surrender to the intelligence officers, Reinhard Gehlen was sent to Virginia, where a plan was orchestrated to bring him back to Germany and reestablish his intelligence contacts. He was tasked with operating more than 600 former Nazi agents in areas that were considered Russian zone. However, in 1948 he was replaced by Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the CIA director. The organization was instrumental to the CIA because they were their ears and eyes on the ground. The CIA used it to recruit hundreds of men to act as spies and scientists for the US government.

America’s Skeleton in the Closet

The decision to recruit more than 1600 Nazi scientists for the US security forces was driven by fear of the Russians. Some of the fears were true, while others were just war fiction. The US government believed that Russia had advanced military capabilities, and they wanted to advance their military as well. The president agreed to have the scientist brought to the US because he believed the scientist could help the military as well as the American researchers in scientific endeavors. Most of the scientists were war criminals, but they were pardoned by the USA and given a second chance. However, apart from the Germans being accused of war crimes alone, the Americans also had their skeleton in the closet. The US dropped two atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, killing and injuring over one million civilians. The US employment of Nazi war criminals was a betrayal to its Allies and the American troops. The US Army and the Allies fought hard and died on the battlefield to get rid of Hitler and Nazi remnants just for them to get a safe place in the US.

The Paperclip Project People: Benefits and Contributions

Operation Paperclip, a secret intelligence program, included thousands of people taken from Nazi Germany. After the end of the World in 1945, the US government employed over a thousand German scientists, engineers, and technicians to benefit from such a project and gain a military advantage in the Soviet-American Cold War and the Space Race. German great minds and experts contributed to scientific development, conducting various experiments, creating new armor and naval equipment designs, and maintaining medical research. These are the most recognizable names in the Paperclip, people notorious for their dark past. However, they are honored for their greatest achievements and contribution to the USA.

Otto Ambros

The most prominent people that benefited from the Paperclip project included a scientist, Otto Ambros. Before coming to America, he was the manager at a rubber company in Auschwitz. He was responsible for the invention of Sarin gas which was used in killing the inferior race in the infamous gas chambers. However, Sarin is not the only chemical he dealt with and based much of the experiments on. He was also notably involved in some other research on chemical nerve agents, which included tabun, an extremely toxic chemical substance. During his trial, he was charged with slavery and mass murders. However, in 1951, Ambros was given clemency by the US and later offered a contract by the US Department of Defense.

Dr. Frank Olson

Dr. Frank Olson worked closely with former German soldiers and scientists in developing interrogation techniques that could control the mind. The intelligence community believed that the Soviets had such kinds of capabilities, and they wanted to be ahead of them. The program run by Dr. Frank was meant to see how the American spies would react if captured and interrogated using Soviet interrogation techniques. He died on the spot after jumping from a building.

Emil Augsburg

Emil Augsburg was an SS officer in the German military and was a key player in Hitler’s government. During World War II, Emil was tasked with killing the enemies of Germany as well as the Jews. After the war, the Polish government sentenced him in absentia, but he escaped and was employed by the US intelligence services. His work was to advise the government on Russian affairs since he was considered an expert in matters related to the Soviets.

Walter Robert Dornberger

Walter Robert Dornberger was another scientist that benefited from the Paperclip project. He was a close friend of Hitler and the General in the Third Reich. He was a skilled engineer and was among the first people to work on rockets for the Nazi regime. In the US, he was working on missiles for the US military. He was successful in building the first air-to-surface missile.

Wernher Von Braun

There was a high need to visit the space, and it was the Nazi scientists who were tasked with that duty. Wernher Von Braun was instrumental in the growth of the projects carried out by NASA. He had developed the V-2 rocket for the German military before coming to the US. Wernher was an important figure in the Nazi aerospace projects. He was a faithful Nazi party member as well as an SS officer. After the end of the war, the CIA recruited him, and he was the brain behind the design of the V-2 rocket. While at the Army Ballistic Missile School, he developed a missile known as the Jupiter-C-rocket. The rocket was used to launch the first American satellite to space. Wernher was also a key player in the moon mission projects.

Werner Dahm

Unlike other scientists who willingly joined the Nazi party, Werner Dahm was reluctant to join the party. He joined it after he was forced to and given no option. He was an expert in aerodynamics and helped in developing Germany's supersonic wind tunnel and rockets. Werner was among a team of experts who built the V-2 rocket, a radar-guided missile rocket, and propellant tanks. Werner was an exceptional engineer, and he is credited with the design of the ballistic missile warhead by using a theoretical approach. Once recruited by the US, he got a job at NASA. His research evolved around aerodynamics, making hydrogen propellant engines as well as Saturday V rockets. Due to his research, Dahm was promoted to the position of chief of aerodynamics.

Hermann H Kurzweg

Hermann H Kurzweg was a chief designer of the V-2 rocket program before he was brought to the US. He was also among a team of researchers who worked on supersonic wind tunnel projects as well as designing anti-aircraft rockets. The Paperclip initiative allowed him to come to the US and join NASA as a director at the Naval Ordinance Division. He continued the research that he had been carrying out in German in the US Naval Laboratory. He was later promoted to the chief researcher position in the Department of Aerodynamics.

Konrad Dannenberg

Konrad Dannenberg was a colleague of Von Braun and was in the team that developed the V-2 rocket. They were also the people who launched the first item in space. His main area of research was the manufacture of rocket engines. After the Paperclip initiative, he joined his former colleague in helping the US make missiles and rocket engines. The scientist was also responsible for creating engines used by satellites and shuttles. NASA awarded him an excellent medal for starting the development of the biggest rocket ever. Kurt Heinrich Debus was active in organizing moon missions and launching satellites. Before coming to the US, he worked with Von Braun in developing the V-2 rocket. He was also a NAZI party member and an SS member. Walter Roberts was a close ally of Hitler, and his skills were in the development of missiles. His achievement in the US included building air to the surface missile as well as developing guided missiles.

Hubertus Strughold

Hubertus Strughold was another German scientist who was a pioneer in the space medicine program. Before coming to America, Hubertus was involved in experimentation on people. The experiments were carried out on inmates without their consent. Some of the experiments often resulted in death, trauma, or permanent disability. The experiments included performing surgery without an anesthetic, putting people in vacuums and depriving them of oxygen as well as exposing people to conditions that caused hypothermia. The experiments were meant to see how people react to different situations. The experiment aimed to help German soldiers tackle different situations and assist in advancing racial indoctrination.

The scientist brought from Germany had a significant impact on the medical field. Dr. Hubertus Strughold was instrumental in developing a supporting system used on the space shuttle. He also worked with space engineers to develop a suite that could keep astronauts safe. The research and work done by Dr. Hubertus was very critical to today's astronauts’ safety. Although the scientists had a dark past, their contribution could not be ignored.

During his stay in the US, Hubertus oversaw the research that studied the effect of vacuum and weightlessness on people. The experiments were vital in building the space shuttle. The engineer was a key member in the building of simulators used by astronauts in flight practices. The pressure suits worn by astronauts were also part of Stronghold’s research. Other achievements that he was involved in included designing support systems used in shuttles.

Kurt Blome

An experiment was done using plague vaccines by Kurt Blome on people in the concentration camps. After the war, he was charged with the extermination of sick people, but he was later acquitted. He was also involved in the research and manufacture of biological weapons. Kurt was brought to the US and employed by the US military to work on biological warfare research.

Hemann Becker

Hemann Becker was a Nazi official that conducted experiments on inmates. He used to starve them and then force them to drink seawater and watch their reactions. He was also accused of killing 80 prisoners by putting them under low pressure. The US Air Force recruited him and asked him to write about the gruesome tortures.

Reinhard Gehlen

Reinhard Gehlen was a general in the military of Hitler. His squadron was involved in killing Jews and other minorities. With the help of the CIA, Reinhard escaped from Germany. The US government used Reinhard’s experience to set up death squads in Argentina, Chile, and other places.

Justifying the Actions

The country’s politics was affected by the Paperclip operation, where the politicians ignored ethics for the sake of national security. The US was supposed to ensure there was justice carried out in Germany. However, their personal interest was too high, and they chose to protect the war criminals. Because of the Cold War, America was willing to overlook all the horrific things done by the scientists. The ethical issues could not pass the public eye, and the scientists had to be brought to the US in secret. The US government has always acted like Big Brother and looked at other nations that violate various international agreements. However, in this case, the US had lost all the moral authority to tell other countries what they should or should not do.

The countries that were fighting Hitler lost their soldiers and used a lot of their resources. The US action of turning around and supporting the same people whose allies had been fighting was not welcomed by other nations. It was a political and moral betrayal by the country of the brave and free. However, the political system justified their actions by citing national interest and the threat of the Soviets.

The US recognized the danger that they faced from the Soviets. The Cold War era was characterized by an arms race between the US and the Soviets. After Hitler had been defeated, the people who had committed war crimes were supposed to be sentenced to pay for their crimes. Some people were sentenced, but some were able to escape thanks to the CIA and the US government that facilitated their escape.

The CIA wanted to get information about the Soviets. The CIA, therefore, decided to recruit former generals who had connections in the country. By having eyes and ears in the field, the intelligence system was able to react accordingly to the threats faced by the Soviet Union. Other parties, such as the Airforce, wanted to get the scientists to advance their air force. The scientists that were brought to the country were brilliant specialists in different fields. The other sectors, such as NASA, wanted to have fresh blood and new ideas for their space exploration. The scientist who came to the country brought with them new ideas that saw NASA expand and advance rapidly to become a top research agency. Some of the work done by the German scientist involves the design of the outer body of a shuttle that protects it from burning due to high friction. The suits the astronauts wear are a result of the work done by the scientist brought from Germany. Other contributions included the designing of the space shuttle simulator and the design of the life support system in the shuttle.

The Americans were faced with a hard question, to let the Soviets expand and risk national security or work with the Germans. The CIA and the US government knew what these people had done, but they still worked with them. The government looked at the bigger picture and its national security. The CIA knew that the people who had committed these atrocities had a lot of potential to offer. They also knew that they were dedicated individuals who loved their country. Moreover, not all scientists agreed with Hitler’s policy. Some of them were forced to work on the given projects. War is a dirty game. The scientists working on various projects were just pawns in a political game.


When we look back, some people can justify the actions of the US, while others believe citizenship cannot be bought. People would like to see the scientists pay for the suffering they made them go through. Some of the things done to the people were inhuman and against the war’s laws. However, the US administration may not look at the system in this way. History will, however, be left to judge as to whether the US did the right thing or the wrong one. The future generations will be left to speculate on the morality of the decision since this will go on for a long time.


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