Operation Paperclip (by Tiffany Wong)


Operation Paperclip was a post-World War II organization created by the American Office of Strategic Services. Overseen by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), this program aimed at recruiting scientists of Nazi Germany and utilizing their expertise. At the same time, JIOA hoped to keep its new German scientific knowledge under American wraps, denying it from the Soviet Union, the UK, and even a divided Germany.

According to the program’s website, Operation Paperclip preferred scientists specializing in aerodynamics and rocketry. These scientists were then brought into the United States, without State Department review and approval or visas because of their service for Hitler’s Third Reich. Under the Operation, the US Army destroyed some of the German scientific equipment to prevent it from being captured and utilized by the Soviet Army, a tactic that was brought on by the impending Cold War paranoia.

Despite these scientists’ lack of proper documents for entry into the United States, JIOA managed to work around official emigration law. Officially, the program forbade any recruitment of German scientists who were members or active participants of the Nazi Party. However, these rules were pushed under a rug as the JIOA created false biographies for the scientists, whitewashing them of their Nazism and having the US government finally grant the scientists security clearance to work in the United States. The scientists were then put in various parts of the country, such as New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and New Mexico.

459px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_141-1880,_Peenemünde,_Start_einer_V2Although the recruitment of Nazi-affiliated scientists for US defense may seem suspicious, Operation Paperclip did allow Americans to gain an upper hand against the USSR, pre-Cold War. Scientists who developed the V2 rocket at Peenemunde, Germany were brought to Texas and were able to test their new rockets in New Mexico – a feat that greatly benefited the United States.

However, more negative attributes are currently associated with Operation Paperclip. Many have criticized the way the government allowed these Nazi-affiliated scientists to gain entry into the country. Many of the scientists had backgrounds littered with war crimes and knowledge of thousands of murders. Because of Operation Paperclip and JIOA, their pasts were wiped clean.

Personally, I do not think that Operation Paperclip was necessary for the country. According to this history website, many German scientists were willing to join the American side rather than the Soviet’s, pre-Cold War. Paperclip’s deliberate recruitment would not have been necessary, especially the tactics used by JIOA that granted the scientists’ entry into the country. The scientists’ knowledge was, without a doubt, invaluable, but their whitewashing could have been avoided.

Much of the information associated with Operation Paperclip is still classified.



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