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  Operation Paperclip: Secret Intelligence Program...Nazi Scientists to America (Jacobsen)

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Author Topic:   Operation Paperclip: Secret Intelligence Program...Nazi Scientists to America (Jacobsen)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 29425
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-11-2014 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America
by Annie Jacobsen
The explosive story of America's secret post-WWII science programs, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51.

In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich's scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis' once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to bring Hitler's scientists and their families to the United States.

Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War?

Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including previously unseen papers made available by direct descendants of the Third Reich's ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and dossiers discovered in government archives and at Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into a startling, complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secret of the twentieth century.

In this definitive, controversial look at one of America's most strategic, and disturbing, government programs, Jacobsen shows just how dark government can get in the name of national security.

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; (February 11, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 031622104X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316221047

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 29425
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-11-2014 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Review by Ed Buckbee (as shared by Walt Cunningham):
In her new book, "Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America," writer Annie Jacobsen condemns actions taken by U. S. Presidents and military leaders. To say it's a flawed piece of work is a gross understatement.

Throughout the book, the author carefully weaves Wernher von Braun, his rocket team and their work in with the chemical and medical experiments done by other German scientists, giving the impression that recently declassified material criminalizes those who created the revolutionary V-2. Why is von Braun selected as the principal figure in this book? Why? Because von Braun's name sells books. It's that simple.

The author quotes and thanks Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum curator Michael J. Neufeld as her primary source for information on von Braun and his team. Neufeld is the curator responsible for collecting, preserving and interpreting space artifacts related to the work of Wernher von Braun and his team in providing the boost that sent American astronauts to the moon. Why is a Smithsonian curator permitted to contribute to a book that condemns the actions of our national leaders at war's end?

Few of the lurid charges, rumors and elevator conversations cited in Jacobsen's book have been substantiated, even with this recent declassification of so-called secret intelligence material.

Numerous false statements and quotations are noted throughout Jacobsen's book. These include von Braun's alleged speaking of "milking the golden cow" and others' descriptions of him being "born again," "snobby," "conceited" and acting like "a celebrity or congressman." In the 1960s, the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center's Public Affairs Office determined that most such quotes were false. Many were attributed to von Braun by writers seeking to discredit him out of their general dislike of that era's Germans, for whatever reason.

Jacobsen writes that "von Braun had sold the U.S. Army on hiring Walter Wiesman, a Nazi public relations officer who had done some work in a Peenemunde valve shop. Von Braun called him an 'eminent scientist.' In reality Wiesman learned engineering in America working for the Army." The truth is, Wiesman never worked in any technical field. Many of us in Huntsville worked side by side with him at NASA's Marshall Center in protocol, training and public relations. In retirement he continued his work with the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce. He never was considered a "scientist" or "engineer."

Why do some writers today believe we were wrong in permitting German scientists and engineers to migrate to the U. S. after WWII? Why does Jacobsen boldly state von Braun and his team were Nazi extremists? Von Braun worked for the regular German Army. It was wartime, and no one said no to the Nazis and lived. He did not volunteer to be a member of any Nazi organization. He did not attend Nazi meetings, nor did he strut around in a Nazi uniform. He discussed such demands that were made of him with his immediate associates. Without hesitation they advised him to give in to those demands, if they all were to survive.

He had no control of operations for production of V-2s in the Mittelwerk tunnels 250 miles from Peenemunde. He had nothing to do with selecting or supervising the laborers who worked there on the V-2 and other weapons. His responsibility was exclusively the development of the rocket and its advancements.

Writer Jacobsen did not mention that six U. S. presidents confided in von Braun, sought his counsel and honored him. During the 1960s, a time when we were engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, President John F. Kennedy sought von Braun's advice on how the U. S. might defeat the USSR in space. Kennedy took his advice, challenged the nation and told the world, "We choose to go the moon." The President came to the Marshall Center in September 1961 to meet with von Braun. After observing a Saturn rocket test, he asked von Braun, "Are we going to beat the Russians to the moon?" Von Braun's response: "Yes, Mr. President, we are going beat the Russians to the moon and we are going to do it within the time frame you set."

President Kennedy regarded von Braun so highly that soon after that visit he and First Lady Jackie Kennedy invited Dr. and Mrs. von Braun to dinner at the White House

President Dwight D. Eisenhower named him the first director of NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama. The center's namesake, the President's comrade and closest friend, contributed mightily to the defeat of the Germans in WWII.

Von Braun was awarded the President's National Medal for Science in 1975. In 2003, more then twenty-five years after his death, he was voted by world-wide aerospace professionals as the second-most-influential person in the history of aerospace, second only to the Wright Brothers.

Despite all the documentation reviewed in depth for this massive study of America's leadership at the end of WWII and von Braun's involvement in Nazi affairs by Jacobsen, she could not hold von Braun morally responsible for the grim realities in which he, and countless others in similar straits, found themselves immersed.

Today, the missile defense system we depend on is based on technology developed by the von Braun team of German-born and American scientists and engineers at the U. S. Army's missile center, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama – an unmatched think-tank team of technologists.

If not for this von Braun team, we in America could very well be speaking Russian today. German brainpower, American leadership, passion and pride put American astronauts on the moon and established a defense system that protects our nation.

Ed Buckbee, an author, lecturer and historian, has been associated with the U.S. missile and space programs for five decades. Buckbee began his career in 1959 as a U.S. Army officer at the Army Ordnance Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal. Al. and later, joined NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center as a public affairs official. He is director emeritus of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and founder of U.S. Space Camp. Buckbee worked with the von Braun team for fifteen years. As the Space Center's first director and curator, he established the Wernher von Braun collection and has collaborated extensively with historians in the U.S. and abroad. Buckbee is widely known in the U.S. as an advocate of human spaceflight.


Posts: 4550
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 04-11-2014 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apparently a lot of people have forgotten the author's book "Area 51" and the controversies (understatement) that went along.

From discussions with historians at NASA when the book was released, someone pointed out the following:

In this book, it was asserted that: the Soviets captured at a GO-229, a Horten flying wing, and Uncle Joe (Stalin) hired Dr. Mengele (yes, him) to produce dwarf pilots to crew the airplane. Why dwarf pilots, you ask? So they could look like aliens.

The GO-229 was then flown from the Soviet Union to New Mexico (big surprise) under the control of a chase aircraft (the dwarves were kids, not adults, and couldn't fly an airplane yet), and crashed — wait for it — near Roswell, NM. In the detritus were the alien bodies.

If Mrs. Jacobsen wanted to discredit her work (and future ones) she couldn't have done it in a better way.


Posts: 618
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 04-14-2014 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By coincidence, I've been reading this book in spurts over the past week or so. I'm tending to agree with Mr. Buckbee. So far, it's mostly a load of re-hashed secondary research with an obvious agenda. While I've never been a big fan of Von Braun's (I've spent too much time talking to old MSC folks who generally had little regard for him and the same could be said of my current Air Force crowd), this book is clearly just trying to be sensationalistic. I was really hoping for a decent history of Paperclip beyond Von Braun and his crowd, but like Chris pointed out, her previous book should've told me otherwise.


Posts: 997
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 04-14-2014 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Her Area 51 book really puzzled me and when I got the section of Nazi involvement with Russians to build the Roswell craft, I wondered if a massive practical joke had been attempted by writing this. It read like something from the old, "MAD magazine," and I couldn't come to terms with the idea that any writer would have actually put that into print (and even more so, amazed any publisher would allow that section to stay in the book).

After reading that downright insane passage in that book, there's no way you could get me to read anything else written by the same author...

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