THE PAPERCLIP CONSPIRACY: The Hunt for the Nazi Scientists by Tom Bower

THE PAPERCLIP CONSPIRACY: The Hunt for the Nazi Scientists

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Bower's 1981 study, The Pledge Betrayed, examined why the Allies rewarded many ardent Nazis not only by leaving their war crimes unpunished but also by placing them in positions of power in postwar Germany. This is a sequel about the Allies' race to claim Nazi scientists as their own and reward them with handsome jobs making military hardware and spaceware--which led directly to placing a man on the moon. When the war ended, Allied investigators were shocked by Germany's advanced wartime inventions and general scientific superiority. They conspired to claim German scientists for Western use, hiding their identities behind paperclips fastened to their files. Many of these paperclip scientists were moral monsters, their skills ""honed amid the calculated murder and brutal butchery of Nazi atrocities."" Even so, ambitious young Allied military officers secretly recruited their former enemies. Bower shows the harsh realities showered on American and British militarists when the advances of the Germans in tank and aerial warfare became clear during WW II. German V-2 rockets and jet planes had the Allies slavering to plunder the German mind at war's end. First came the hunt for the scientists and technologists, then the compromises by which they were recruited. When anti-Nazi reaction arose in the US, Project Paperclip brazenly went underground. Scientists were saved from Nuremberg, the past rewritten at the Pentagon, and former Nazis sworn en masse to American citizenship. The irony was that these military scientists were unemployable in postwar Germany, which was again kingpinned industrially by the same old Nazi profiteers, whose massive funds hidden in Switzerland, once released, brought on the economic miracle of West Germany. Backed by firm research (aided by the Freedom of Information Act and recently released European documents), this is a well-done chronicle of great moral ironies and Realpolitik.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Little, Brown