Operation paperclip; the whitewashing of Nazi war crimes

On Aug 21, US Government sent back an ex-Nazi guard who was living in the country since 1949. He was tracked down by agencies in 1993 and had his American citizenship revoked


As the world war was entering its final stages, US and Britain were teaming up to seize the German war documents, technology, their weapons and all other materials of research they could find. In one of these covert operations popularly known as Operation Paper Clip (earlier called as Operation Overcast)  Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), transferred and secured the release of former Nazi scientists, engineers and also former Nazi leaders. They transferred nearly 1600 of these former Nazi scientists to America. The goal of these scientists was to salvage the German intelligence to create and develop arsenal; chemical as well as biological weapons to compete against the space war as well as weapon war of Soviet Union.

However, President Harry Truman forbade the agency from recruiting Nazi Sympathizers , but his direction fell on deaf ears. Officials within the JIOA and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which later came to be known as CIA whitewashed the evidence against the scientists records. Their war crimes were swept under the rug, the evidence brushed away and recruited in the program.

Among these scientists was Werner von Braun who was instrumental in developing devastating V-2 rocket which was dropped on England. He played a vital role in the space war against Soviet Union at that time and was indirectly responsible for propelling dozens of Americans into the space. Von later became director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle.

According to CIA website, other prominent Nazis hired under Operation Paperclip included:

  • Dr. Hubertus Strughold, who played an important role in space medicine by developing space suits and other life-support systems. In June 1948, he put a rhesus monkey named Albert in the pressurized nosecone of a V-2 rocket in a pressurized nose cone, the first step in the effort to send humans to space.
  • General Reinhard Gehlen, former head of Nazi intelligence operations against the Soviets, was hired by the US Army and later by the CIA to operate 600 ex-Nazi agents in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany. In 1948, CIA Director Roscoe Hillenkoetter assumed control of the so-called Gehlen Organization.
  • German biologist Dr. Kurt Blome was hired to develop offensive and defensive capabilities to counter Soviet biological warfare activities.


Jakiw Palij in 1949

Some argue that if the German scientists weren’t shifted to US, the balance of power could’ve easily favored the Soviet. Others point to the ignorance towards their war crimes. There were rumors that Soviets were building mind controlling devices. USA didn’t want to feel left out. Since Soviet posed a serious threat to USA, and was already using German scientists to develop technologies, CIA’s operation paper clip was given a nod.

On Aug 21, US Government deported an ex-Nazi guard Jakiw Palij to Germany who was living in the country since 1949. He was tracked down by agencies in 1993 and had his American citizenship revoked. It was found that he had falsely claimed in his documents about his job pre-1949. Jakiw Palij was known to be the last surviving suspect of Nazi war crimes living on the American soil. Palij was born in Poland , which is Ukraine now.

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