Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America. By Annie Jacobsen. New York and Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 2014. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xii, 438. $30.00 ISBN: 978-0316-22104-7 and The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men. By Eric Lichtblau. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. Maps. Notes. Index. Pp, 227. $28.00 ISBN: 978-0-547-66919-9
In 1974, Clarence Lasby wrote Project Paperclip: German Scientists and the Cold War. It received excellent reviews but drew little attention from the public. With little cooperation from the military, Lasby documented the exploitation of Nazi advanced technology and those involved. Though labeled "scientists," few were. Most were engineers, as was Werner von Braun (a brilliant rocket engineer and manager of engineers) and his brother, Magnus. There was little screening of the "rocket experts." Though the employment of Germans in the US caused an immediate outcry of protest (led by German-American immigrant Albert Einstein), the public was assured those selected had been carefully screened and included no "ardent Nazis" or "alleged or confirmed war criminals." A reported 1,700 "scientists" were employed in the US under Paperclip. "Screening" was done, it seems, with clouded glasses.
Project Paperclip did not "remain the standard source" nor will Operation Paperclip. But Annie Jacobsen, building on Lasby's study, has accomplished a masterful job of scholarship; one of inestimable value to the historical record. Her narrative covering exploitation of the Germans is rich in detail for which she credits the Freedom of Information Act, the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, and attorneys in the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations. All this and more set the stage for The Nazis Next Door, which offers an abridged version of what is covered in detail in Project Paperclip. The Nazis Next Door further covers the Nazis and alleged war criminals that slipped into the US as immigrants. Some were recruited by the CIA to spy on the Soviet Union. Their service to the Third Reich served as a favorable reference, since the Nazis were indeed "ardent anti-Communists."
While Project Paperclip is long on scholarship, The Nazis Next Door is the story that should appeal to lay readers, especially young students. Lichblau is a journalist who knows how to tell a story. In addition to revealing long-suppressed facts, he delivers...