"As comprehensive as it is critical, this latest exposé from Jacobsen is perhaps her most important work to date....Jacobsen persuasively shows that it in fact happened and aptly frames the dilemma....Rife with hypocrisy, lies, and deceit, Jacobsen's story explores a conveniently overlooked bit of history." —Publishers Weekly, starred review.

"This is an engrossing and deeply disturbing expose that poses ultimate questions of means versus ends." —Booklist, starred review

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Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America
Author: Annie Jacobsen
Buy it online, click here.

"The story of how perpetrators of World War II were treated as spoils of war, brought to light with new information in this diligent report. Throughout, the author delivers harrowing passages of immorality, duplicity, and deception, as well as some decency and lots of high drama. How Dr. Strangelove came to America and thrived, told in graphic detail." —Kirkus Reviews

Annie Jacobsen exploded onto the scene three years ago with her bestseller AREA 51, about America's top-secret military testing site (now being developed by AMC as a scripted television series). At last, she returns with an even more electrifying exposé in OPERATION PAPERCLIP: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America (Little Brown; February 11, 2014; 978-0-316-22105-4. Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B, has just acquired the film and TV rights to Jacobsen's equally cinematic new book.

We all know that the government can hide unpleasant facts from the public in the name of national security, but the magnitude of secrecy—just how disturbing these truths are and how much we are kept in the dark—is more frightening than we could have imagined. As Jacobsen succinctly writes in her prologue:

"This is a book about Nazi scientists and American government secrets. It is about how dark truths can be hidden from the public by U.S. officials in the name of national security, and it is about the unpredictable, often fortuitous, circumstances through which truth gets revealed. Operation Paperclip was a postwar U.S. intelligence program that brought German scientists to America under secret military contracts. The program had a benign public face and a classified body of secrets and lies. `I'm mad on technology,' Adolf Hitler told his inner circle at a dinner party in 1942, and in the aftermath of the German surrender more than sixteen hundred of Hitler's technologists would become America's own."

Annie Jacobsen, an investigative reporter and former contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, puts a spotlight on twenty-one of these men as she tells how American military leadership schemed to hire Hitler's scientists in the chaos following World War II. The U.S. government secretly debated whether the value of their knowledge outweighed their crimes. In May of 1945, the U.S. government began a covert operation code-named Operation Paperclip to bring these scientists and their families to the United States, often putting science before justice. The age of weapons of mass destruction had matured and the underlying justification for hiring Nazis was that if America didn't get these men, the Soviets surely would.

Eight of the twenty-one men profiled by Jacobsen in OPERATION PAPERCLIP worked, at some point, side by side with Third Reich leadership, including Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Goring, and even Adolf Hitler. Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including 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 one of the most complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded secrets of the twentieth century.

Many of these men were accused of war crimes. Others stood trial at Nuremberg. Yet they had also pioneered major advances in the science of warfare. Here in America they continued their weapons-related work for the U.S. government, developing rockets, chemical and biological weapons, and aviation and space medicine. Many of them won top military and civilian awards here—one had a government building named after him, and as of 2013, two have prestigious national science prizes given annually in their names. One invented the ear thermometer and others helped with NASA's first mission to the moon.

Annie Jacobsen provides a masterful narrative grounded in solid research and facts. She asks the hard questions:

—How did this happen and what does this mean now? —What role did former Nazis play in the creation of the American "military-industrial complex"? —Do scientific accomplishments mitigate moral crimes? —Should government pursue science at any cost?

There are no easy answers in this dark and complicated tale.

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Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America
Author: Annie Jacobsen
Buy it online, click here.


ANNIE JACOBSEN is a journalist and the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.



In Operation Paperclip, Annie Jacobsen reveals for the first time:

  • Documents obtained by the author through the Freedom of Information Act showing that in 1945 the U.S. Army knowingly hired five Nazi doctors involved in medical murder experiments at concentration camps. The documents were originally classified with the strict caveat that access be restricted until the year 2025, when everyone named would be dead.
  • Eight of the Operation Paperclip scientists hired by the government, so-called "nominal Nazis," were in fact major players in the Third Reich; each at some point worked side by side with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, or Hermann Goring during the war.
  • Among those recruited into Operation Paperclip were Hitler's chief of chemical weapons, Otto Ambros; Himmler's chief of biological weapons, Dr. Kurt Blome; airing's air force technical advisor, Siegfried Knemeyer; and the surgeon general of the Third Reich, Major General Dr. Walter Schreiber.
  • Dr. Theodor Benzinger, part of an elite group of German Air Force doctors who worked closely with Himmler, was arrested for war crimes in 1946 and listed as a defendant in the Nuremberg doctors trial. Several weeks before trial, he was mysteriously taken off the defendants' list, released into U.S. Army custody, and sent to America. He worked for the U.S. military for the rest of his long career.
  • General Walter Domberger, the man in charge of the Reich's rocket program, served as a regular Pentagon consultant and recruitment officer for Operation Paperclip. In a U.S. Army monograph written by him and never revealed publicly before, Domberger encouraged Pentagon officials to put aside democratic ideals in service of gaining military superiority over the Soviets.
  • A comprehensive picture of Wernher von Braun reveals the lengths that the U.S. Army went to cover up von Braun's membership in the SS and his complicity in Nazi slave labor crimes.
  • General Malcolm Grow and Colonel Harry Armstrong, later the first and second surgeons general of the U.S. Air Force, together hired the first fifty-eight Nazi doctors for Operation Paperclip.
  • SS-Brigadefiihrer Walter Schieber, a member of Himmler's personal staff—frequently photographed alongside Hitler, Himmler, Bormann, and Speer as part of Hitler's inner circle—worked for both the U.S. Army and the CIA.
  • Friedrich "Fritz" Hoffmann synthesized nerve agents for the Reich. As part of Operation Paperclip, he led U.S. Army research on sarin gas at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, and became the CIA's top chemist in its notorious assassination-by-poison program.
  • U.S. Army Brigadier General Charles Loucks hired Hitler's top chemists to work on classified nerve agent programs in post-war Germany, holding group meetings with them at his Heidelberg home. This information, part of a still-classified program, comes from Loucks's personal desk diaries, donated posthumously to the U.S. Army Heritage Center in Pennsylvania, and has never been acknowledged by the Department of Defense.
  • Documents also show Brigadier General Loucks as the originator of the U.S. Army's classified LSD program, based on information obtained from Hitler's chemists. The new documents place the army program's origins in 1948, years earlier than previously thought.
  • A clandestine intelligence facility in the American zone of occupied Germany, called Camp King, served as a Cold War black site long before black sites were known as such. Here, using enhanced interrogation techniques, including drugs, electroshock, and torture, the CIA's notorious MKUltra program was born.
  • The position of post doctor at Camp King was held by high-ranking Nazi doctors, including the surgeon general and the deputy surgeon general of the Third Reich. The activities that went on at Camp King between 1946 and the late 1950s have never been accounted for by either the Department of Defense or the CIA.
  • When Hitler's most important chemist, Otto Ambros, was convicted at Nuremberg of mass murder and slavery, what remained of the one million Reichsmark bonus he was given by Hitler (for scientific achievement) was confiscated. In 1951, Ambros was granted clemency by the U.S. High Commissioner in postwar Germany, John J. McCloy, and released from prison with his finances fully restored. Ambros later worked for the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Dr. Kurt H. Debus, first director of the Kennedy Space Center, was an SS officer during the war and once went out of his way to turn a colleague over to the Gestapo, an act called "deliberate and vicious" by army intelligence. The National Space Club Florida Committee, one of three committees of the National Space Club in Washington, D.C., continues to give out its prestigious space-related award, the Debus Award.
  • Dr. Hubertus Strughold, known as the father of U.S. space medicine, repeatedly lied to army investigators about his complicity in Nazi medical war crimes. The Space Medicine Association continues to bestow its prestigious Hubertus Strughold Award annually to an outstanding contributor of aviation medicine.
  • In the 1950s, Major General Dr. Walter Schreiber, surgeon general of the Third Reich, lived in San Antonio, Texas, and worked at nearby Randolph Air Force Base. When his presence in America became public, the Joint Chiefs of Staff made secret arrangements for his departure to Argentina. A wanted war criminal, he was never tried for war crimes.


Buy this book online


Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America
Author: Annie Jacobsen
Buy it online, click here.



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