Operation Paperclip was initiated, organized, and implemented by an elite corps of U.S. intelligence officials who were tightly connected to the major banking and corporate business interests. Since its inception the CIA has been an elitist espionage agency dominated by a group of Wall Street lawyers and bankers whose clients were the major aggressive U.S. and German corporations. These “old boys” formed an interlocking directorate held together by their common elitist New England backgrounds of prep school and Ivy League universities. In his book, The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA (1992, 2001) Burton Hersh documented how the financial interests of the wealthy privileged class disproportionately influenced the formation of both the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1942, and its successor, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947, and the covert policies those agencies adopted and implemented.
William “Wild Bill” Donovan, a high profile New York antitrust attorney, was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to head the OSS; Allen Dulles, who succeeded him as head of OSS in Berlin, then Bern, Switzerland, and later headed the CIA; Frank Wisner who worked under Dulles in the OSS; and John McCloy, Assistant Secretary of the War Department (1940), appointed U.S. High Commissioner in Germany (1949).
These all-powerful officials sabotaged the prosecution at Nuremberg to shield their German corporate clients such as Krup A.G., the arms manufacturer and the chemical conglomerate, I.G. Farben, manufacturer of Zyklon B the gas used to murder millions of Jews and other “undesirables.” And they shielded their American corporate clients who sat on the boards of Nazi banks during the war, who could have been tried for treason. These Old Boys violated U.S. laws with impunity and overruled the orders of U.S. presidents, virtually smuggling key Nazi space engineers, chemists, medical doctors into the United States, after sterilizing their records to expunge their Nazi activities including enslavement, medical atrocities, and mass murder. What is shocking is the utter moral indifference displayed by U.S. intelligence officials to those Nazi atrocities and the lack of sympathy for the victims.
President Harry Truman – who did not share the elitist perspective – was appalled by the horrific conditions in the displaced persons camps (DP) under the command of U.S. Army Chief, George Patton, an avowed Anti-Semite racist who much admired the infamous Nazi Nuremberg Laws (1935). Patton stole the original document signed by Hitler which was sought by the Nuremberg prosecutors. The four-page document was preserved in a bombproof vault at the Huntington library in Pasadena until August 2010 when it was transferred to the National Archives.
In a letter to General Eisenhower, President Truman quoted from the Harrison Report:
“As matters now stand, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of SS troops. One is led to wonder whether the German people, seeing this, are not supposing that we are following or at least condoning Nazi policy…I know you will agree with me that we have a particular responsibility toward these victims of persecution and tyranny who are in our zone.
We must make clear to the German people that we thoroughly abhor the Nazi policies of hatred and persecution. We have no better opportunity to demonstrate this than by the manner in which we ourselves actually treat the survivors remaining in Germany.” (President Harry S. Truman. Letter Aug. 31, 1945. White House News Release, Sept. 29, 1945)
This dark chapter in American history continues to poison the foundation of American democracy; it was first documented by Linda Hunt, a former CNN investigative reporter who had obtained access to top secret classified documents under the Freedom of Information Act. In her landmark article, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (1987) she stated: “THERE IS NO DOUBT that the U.S. military saw nothing wrong with employing war criminals.”
The relevance of Paperclip today: The subject is still very much in the news. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported, “Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, the scientific community is still fractured over the legacy of Nazi science. . .” (Lagnado, 2012) The article described a bitter controversy surrounding the prestigious Space Medicine Association award named after Dr. Hubertus Strughold, a notorious Nazi medical scientist whose criminal record was wiped clean — sterilized by U.S. intelligence officials under Operation Paperclip. Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon in 1969 was the accomplishment of two groups of imported Nazi scientists. A team of rocket engineers headed by Wernher von Braun who had used slave laborers who were starved to death working in an airless cave in the center of a mountain building his V-2 rocket. A team of aviation doctors was headed by and Dr. Hubertus Strughold who was the wartime head of the Luftwaffe’s Institute for Aviation Medicine in Berlin where gruesome high altitude, no oxygen experiments were conducted and detailed plans were crafted for seawater experiments conducted at Dachau.
It’s hard to a imagine a greater case of moral compromise, by which the U.S. government delivered a rogue’s gallery of Nazi scientists to America, all in the name of Cold War competition and in the spirit of post-World War II spoil-taking. This was the cream of Hitler’s crop — the rocket-science geniuses and genocidal doctors who did so much to make the Third Reich what it was: a blitzkrieging, slave-laboring extermination machine, the epitome of 20th-century inhumanity. (Matt Damsker review of Operation Paperclip in USA Today, 2014)
As documents stamped “Top Secret” have slowly been declassified over the last seven decades, numerous books have sought to shed light on how this immoral compromise came about. (Lasby, 1971; Hunt, 1991; Hersh, 1992; Saunders, 1999; Loftus, 2010)
Three important new books utilize newly declassified documents to deepen our understanding about how an elite group of intelligence officials had set in motion a chain of dubious covert foreign and domestic operations. Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientist to America by Annie Jacobsen (Feb. 2014); The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men by Pulitzer Prize-winner, Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times (Oct. 2014); The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer a columnist for The Guardian, formerly a foreign correspondent of the NYT (Oct. 2013).
These books substantiate the writings of earlier authors with additional documentation detailing how intelligence agencies gained control over public policies and public discourse by incorporating Nazi propaganda techniques to instill fear and paranoia in the public; using subterfuge to disguise their nefarious activities — including the source of their revenues; lying to Congress and the press. Beginning in 1947, the Department of Defense and CIA bankrolled substantially all of the post-World War II generation’s research into mass communication and techniques of persuasion, opinion measurement, and interrogation at a cost of one billion dollars a year. (Simpson, 1994) This legacy has far-reaching tentacles; layers of secrecy continue to shield both the activities of the transplanted Nazis and the officials who engineered their safe haven suggest that their clandestine, illegal activities are carried over to this day.