Weird History Operation Paperclip: The Covert Project That Welcomed Nazis Into America With Open Arms  

Hugh Landman
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If there's one thing the United States hates, it's Nazis. However, when World War II ended, the government decided that it hated Communism more. Leaders couldn't stand the thought of Communist countries recruiting Nazi scientists for their own desgins. Thus, Operation Paperclip was started to bring in any Nazi it could find. America wanted to ensure that the advanced military technology the Nazis had developed during WWII would not fall into Soviet hands. 

The secret intelligence program was run by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency and brought more than 1,600 Nazis to America. With the Nazis came rocket systems like the V2, which was developed to terror bomb London during the war. They also brought research and knowledge about jet aircraft technology, chemical weapons, and biological weapons.

Often times, these Nazi scientists had worked on gruesome projects involving human experiments during WWII. They had used Jews and prison laborers as lab rats from various concentration camps. Yet the United States chose to overlook these crimes and even obfuscated the records of the scientists as they were brought into America. To learn more about Operation Paperclip and its impact on US history, read on. 

Operation Paperclip Was A Mission To Recruit Former Nazis

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As World War II came to an end, a new international rivalry heated up between the United States and the Soviet Union. These two superpowers were formerly allies, but various issues led to increased tension between them. One of the main motivations for the conflict was the threat posed by nuclear weapons systems.

During World War II, Nazi military technology outpaced that of the Allies in areas including jet propulsion and rocket science. Nazi scientists were also developing chemical and nuclear weapons of their own, making them attractive recruits for the two main post-war powers. As a result, the United States initiated Operation Paperclip to bring scientists who served the Nazis to America, even those who were high ranking party members of the racist-fascist regime. 

A Possible War With The Soviets Motivated The Program

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As World War II came to an end, a war with the Soviet Union was an increasing concern for American generals. While the US was discussing control of territory occupied by Nazi Germany, it appeared the Soviets would install communist governments in areas that they liberated from the Nazis. As a result, relations between the US and Russia deteriorated and American leaders predicted that the two countries would soon be at war.

American generals believed that to be fully prepared, the US would need to advance their chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. The country needed all the help it could get and took the step of ignoring the horrible atrocities that Nazi scientists committed against Jewish people in the concentration camps in exchange for their expertise, if it would help the US against the Soviet Union.

Dr. Heinz Schlicke Started As A POW And Turned Into An American Collaborator

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Among the Nazi scientists who were recruited by America was Dr. Heinz Schlicke. He was taken as a prisoner of war when the U-boat he was on was captured by the US Navy in May of 1945 while it was traveling to Japan as the war was ending in Europe. Schlicke had much of his research with him, including nuclear weapons materials and plans for several pieces of Nazi military hardware, including the V-2 rocket and Me262 jet fighter plane. Eventually, Schlicke aided the Americans by designing the fuses to trigger an atomic bomb. In exchange, the US found his wife and children in the Soviet Zone and brought them back to be with Schlicke. He worked for the US government until his death. 

Nazis Went On To Develop Some Of America's Favorite Products

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In addition to creating heinous weapons of mass destruction that could kill the entire population of the earth dozes of times over, Nazi scientists helped develop everyday consumer products. For example, they invented "synthetic rubber (used in automobile tires), non-running hosiery, the ear thermometer, electromagnetic tape, and miniaturized electrical components." Thus, Operation Paperclip resulted in not only military benefits, but economic benefits as well.