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Post-World War II Reccruitment of German Scientists--Project Paperclip

Post-World War II Reccruitment of German Scientists--Project Paperclip

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Published by: coleloc on Jan 18, 2008
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DISCLAIMERThe following is a staff memorandum or other working documentprepared for the members of the Advisory Committee on HumanRadiation Experiments. It should not be construed as representingthe final conclusions of fact or interpretation of the issues.All staff memoranda are subject to revision based on furtherinformation and analysis. For conclusions and recommendations ofthe Advisory Committee, readers are advised to consult the FinalReport to be published in 1995.MEMORANDUMTO: Members of the Advisory Committee on Human RadiationExperimentsFROM: Advisory Committee StaffDATE: April 5, 1995RE: Post-World War II Reccruitment of GermanScientists--Project PaperclipThe Air Force's School of Aviation Medicine (SAM) at Brooks AirForce Base in Texas conducted dozens of human radiation experimentsduring the Cold War, among them flashblindness studies in connectionwith atomic weapons tests, and datagathering for total-bodyirradiation studies conducted in Houston. (These have been the subjectof prior briefing books.) Because of the extensive postwar recruitingof German scientists for the SAM and other U.S. defense installations,and in light of the central importance of the Nuremberg prosecutionsto the Advisory Committee's work, members of the staff have collecteddocumentary evidence about Project Paperclip from the NationalArchives and Department of Defense records. (The departments ofJustice and Defense, as well as the Archives staff, have providedsubstantial assistance in this effort.)The experiments for which Nazi investigators were tried includedmany related to aviation research. These were mainly high-altitudeexposure studies, oxygen deprivation experiments, and cold studiesrelated to air-sea rescue operations. This information about air crewhazards was important to both sides, and, of course, continued to beimportant to military organizations in the Cold War.Background of Project PaperclipProject Paperclip was a postwar and Cold War operation carriedout by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA).1 [OperationPaperclip's code name was said to have originated because
scientific recruits' papers were paperclipped with regular immigrationforms. The JIOA was a special intelligence office reporting to theDirector of Intelligence in the War Department, comparable to theintelligence chief of today's Joint Chiefs of Staff.] Paperclip hadtwo aims: to exploit German scientists for American research, and todeny these intellectual resources to the Soviet Union. At least1,600 scientists and their dependents were recruited and brought tothe United States by Paperclip and its successor projects throughthe early 1970s. The most famous of these was Wernher von Braun.1
In recent years, it has been alleged that many of theseindividuals were brought to the United States in violation of Americangovernment policy not to permit the entrance of "ardent Nazis" intothe country, that many were security risks, and that at least somewere implicated in Holocaust-related activities.The secondary literature on Paperclip includes Linda Hunt, SecretAgenda (1991) and Tom Bowers, The Paperclip Conspiracy (1989). Thefollowing is drawn from these sources and material retrieved from theNational Archives and DOD files.Nuremberg and Postwar Recruitment of ScientistsAt the time of its inception, Paperclip was a matter ofcontroversy in the War Department, as demonstrated by a November27,1946 memorandum from General Groves, director of the ManhattanProject, relating to the bringing to the United States of the eminentphysicist Otto Hahn.Groves wrote that the Manhattan Projectdoes not desire to utilize the services of foreignscientists in the United States, either directly with theProject or with any affiliated organization. This hasconsistently been my views. (sic) I should like to make itclear, however, that I see no objection to bringing to theUnited States such carefully screened physicists as wouldcontribute materially to the welfare of the United Statesand would remain permanently in the United States asnaturalized citizens. I strongly recommend against foreignphysicists coming in contact with our atomic energy programin any way. If they are allowed to see or discuss the workof the Project the security of our information would get outof control. (Attachment 1)Biomedical Scientists at American FacilitiesA number of military research sites recruited Paperclipscientists with backgrounds in aeromedicine, radiobiology andophthalmology. These institutions included the SAM, where radiationexperiments were conducted, and other military sites, particularly theEdgewood Arsenal of the Army's Chemical Corps.2The portfolio of experiments at the SAM was one that wouldparticularly benefit from the Paperclip recruits. Experiments thereincluded total-body irradiation, space medicine and bedrest studies,and flashblindness studies. Herbert Gerstner,2 [The Committee has nodocuments at this time indicating that Dr. Gerstner engaged in humanexperimentation in Germany.] a principal investigator in TBIexperiments at the SAM, was acting director of the Institute ofPhysiology at the University of Leipzig; he became a radiobiologistat the SAM. (Attachment 2)

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