Operation Paperclip : US World war II Secret mission

Operation Paperclip – In March 1945, Germany was in a turmoil state during World War II. Russia’s Red Army and American troops are attacking every corner of Nazi German. The notorious villains of World War II were busy in removing the evidence of their misdeeds. On April 30, the Red Army moved very close to Berlin. Werner Karl Heisenberg, head of the German Military Research Association, heard the news of Hitler’s suicide on the radio. He quickly flushed the crucial papers of military research to the toilet and fled away.

Most of the documents went into the underground sewers. But some of the papers survived the flash probably because of the water running out. Later they were recovered and moved to the British intelligence agency MI6. After exchanging hands, the paper reached to American intelligence again. US intelligence was searching for that information at that time. And from those papers, a new secret mission began, called ‘Operation Paperclip’.

Werner Heisenberg List

In World War II Scientists played a significant role in the rise of Nazi Germany under Hitler. So, the Military Research Association formed to bring all the famous scientists and research institutes in Germany under one umbrella. Werner Heisenberg was head of this Military Research Association. At that time Heisenberg was a professor at the Leibniz University Hannover ( Hannover technical university ).

Werner Heisenberg : German theoretical physicist taken by operation paperclip
Werner Heisenberg : pioneer of quantum mechanics

He had a good reputation as a fan of Nazism. His task was recruiting scientists, technicians and engineers capable of assisting in the development of military weapons. He was successful in his Job. He employs at least 5,000 famous scientists, technologists and engineers in the Military Research Association. Only a copy of the list of recruits survived the flush in that day. Later The list was found by US intelligence. The historical name of this list is ‘Heisenberg List’. And with the help of this list, US intelligence in Germany began to searching for scientists.

They started a secret mission to take these famous scientists to the United States as prisoners of war. They focus on engineers skilled in military equipment, including rockets, missiles and radar. This secret plan was hatched under the name of ‘Operation Paperclip’ to capture the scientists of all sectors, from nuclear experts to military doctors and bio technologists.

Beginning of Operation Overcast

US intelligence was involved in Operation Paperclip Long ago. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary, Henry A. Wallace, kept information of military research in Germany during World War II. Henry Wallace predict that there will be a possible Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union in near future. And Wallace, skilled economist and former Vice President of the United States, knew that the scientists must play an important role to win this war.

About 1,800 German scientists were listed in that time. They all were dealing with wartime rockets, missiles, atomic bombs, military drugs, chemicals and biological weapons. Wartime US intelligence Knew that these Scientists in Nazi Germany had extraordinary success in these areas. So Wallace’s list was handed over to a specialised team of intelligence, consist of the US Army, Navy and Air Force.

Operation Paperclip : US World war II Secret mission
Newspaper cutting about Operation Paperclip

This teams’ main task was to bring all German scientists to America in the post-war period. The name of the intelligence agency formed at the end of World War II “United States Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA). JIOA works to compiling Wallace’s draft with the Heisenberg main list. They also deliver the list to US detective in Germany by May 1945. This undercover operation named ‘Operation Overcast’. The US military later renamed it “Operation Paperclip”.

How Operation Paperclip Named?

The success of German scientists during World War II in building long-range missiles, especially rockets, was not unknown to US. The V-2 rocket, capable of carrying 2,000 pounds of ammunition developed by Nazi scientists, was a nightmare for the Allies. So this operations’ main goal was to find the scientists who made these rockets. US Detectives separate the list of engineers and scientists with some ‘paperclips’. That’s why in November 1945, the US military named this mission’ Operation Paperclip’.

How successful was Operation Paperclip?

Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was number one on the Heisenberg list. Before the war, the talented scientist was interested in launching a Human-crewed rocket into space. But from the beginning, this elite German scientist was a supporter of Hitler’s Nazi force. After Hitler appointed him as head of military space research, he built the infamous V-2 rocket that struck England.

Scientist Braun and all the engineers in the team brought to America through Operation Paperclip. The US military deployed all 104 rocket scientists to conduct Space research. US government and the army assured them tight security. The members of this group have played a significant role in the launch of the first artificial satellite ‘Explorer-1’, also in Apollo mission. Wernher von Braun served as assistant director of the Apollo 11 mission.

Operation Paperclip : US World war II Secret mission
Wernher von Braun With President John FKennedy

However, famous chemists like Otto Ambros were also on the list. Otto Ambros was the inventor of several nerve gases, including Sarin and Tabun. Ambros also made synthetic rubber in the laboratory to use in wartime tanks. In 1944, Hitler invited him to a feast and rewarded with 1 million Reichsmark. But the scientist later worked for the US military because of Operation Paperclip.

Through the operation paperclip About 1,600 more German scientists, such as von Braun and Otto Ambros, were forced to immigrate to the United States. All of them have been recognized for their success in military research in the United States. So can be said that Operation Paperclip was very successful.

Hubertus Strughold – The Father of Space Medicine was also helped space mission by developing innovations like the spacesuit and space life support systems.

Adolf Busemann– who helped US aeroplanes to have supersonic speed. He also introduced the concept of swept wings.

The reaction of the Soviet Union: Operation Osoaviakhim

Operation Paperclip : US World war II Secret mission
Operation Paperclip : Original Book Cover

the Soviet Union also started a mission after learning about the United States operation paperclip. Soviet intelligence and military forces also launched Operation Osoaviakhim. They forcibly recruit more than 2,000 German scientists, engineers, and technicians and more than 6,000 people including their family members were shifted to the Soviet Union during one night on October 22, 1946, with Operation Osoaviakhim. NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs ) and Soviet army units conduct this operation. In this reciprocal operation between the Soviet Union and the United States, German scientists also convinced that they would have to leave their homeland and move to either of these two countries.

Operation Paperclip Book by Annie Jacobsen

The secret mission was officially recognized by US President Harry S. Truman in September 1948. however, much of the mission has been kept secret by the US military and intelligence agencies.

In 2014 a book, “Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America” written by US investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen provide details of the events behind the operation paperclip.

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