December 10

Where were the protests against importation of Nazi doctors & scientists?

Looking back one wonders where were the mass protests against the importation of Nazi doctors and scientists?

These were villains of the worst kind; criminals who had actively planned and devised “scientific” methods of torture, and developed the chemical methods used to exterminate millions of people whom they deemed to be inferior.

Even today, most Americans do not grasp the extent to which the importation of high ranking Nazi criminals who were shielded from prosecution at Nuremberg – or had their sentences commuted by U.S. intelligence officials, then brought secretly to America – influenced and shaped nefarious U.S. policies during and far beyond the Cold War. By fomenting fear and exaggerating threats to national security, the CIA trampled American laws and civil liberties with the approval of the Justice Department; initiating massive covert intelligence surveillance operations of Americans and using “enhanced interrogation techniques” on prisoners.

Those who opposed the importation of Nazis were mainly liberal publications
The Nation, The New Republic, the NY PM; American  nativists, civil rights organizations; and the Society for the Prevention of World War III, an organization of several thousand members among them the nation’s best known writers, scholars, and members of the intellectual community.  The Society’s journal, Prevent World War III, depicted the Paperclip “experts” as follows:

“These German “experts” performed wonders for the German war effort. Can one forget their gas chambers, their skill in cremation, their meticulous methods used to extract gold from the teeth of their victims, their wizardry in looting and thievery?” (Lasby, 1971)

American scientists reacted strongly against the importation of Nazi scientists emphasizing the moral turpitude of those who worked for Hitler and the Third Reich. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in December, 1946, participants denounced the military’s “unbalanced” sense of ethical values and their exaggerated buildup of mere “technicians.” In a letter to the NYT six faculty members at Syracuse University protested the military’s attempt to place the Germans in academic institutions stating:

“We object not because they are citizens of an enemy nation but because they were and probably still are Nazis. . . . We consider it below the dignity of scientists to work together with willing servants of Hitler, Goering, and Himmler.”

 Albert Einstein, who fled the Nazis, wrote directly to President Truman on behalf of 40 his colleagues in the Federation of American Scientists denouncing the importation of Nazis:

“We hold these individuals to be potentially dangerous…Their former eminence as Nazi Party members and supporters raises the issue of their fitness to become American citizens and hold key positions in American industrial, scientific and educational institutions.”  The FAS had a membership of 3,000. [Lasby]

Nuclear physicist Hans Bethe, another famous highly regarded scientist who fled the Nazis, and worked on the Manhattan Project, joined his colleague, Dr. Henri Sack, and raised the following moral questions in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (1947):

  • “Was it wise, or even compatible with our moral standards to make this bargain, in light of the fact that many of the Germans, probably the majority, were die-hard Nazis?”
  •  “Had the war been fought to allow Nazi ideology to creep into our educational and scientific institutions by the back door?”
  • “Do we want science at any price?”

Another question to ask:  Do we really want science for destructive purposes, at what sacrifice, and for whose benefit?

To our knowledge there were no expressions of moral indignation and no protests by the American medical community against the importation of Nazi doctors who were guilty of medical war crimes; neither the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Science, the National Institutes of Health, nor the Academy of Medicine protested against the importation of Nazi war criminals. That should make us all pause and consider – can we trust them?

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