Anyone who’s studied the MK-Ultra project knows all about Operation Paperclip, the military collaboration that gave hundreds of ardent Nazi scientists U.S. citizenship and brought them to both North and South America at the end of World War II to bolster our space program and interrogation techniques. The major example of this is Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who “helped” us develop the vehicle used for the first nuclear missile, and to launch the first Western satellite in 1958. What many don’t know about, however, is how Nazis were also employed to test LSD and other interrogation techniques on captured Soviet Spies.
That is being revealed in a new book released this week by journalist Annie Jacobsen, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America. According to her, U.S. intelligence hired scientists from the Third Reich in ways that are stranger and more nefarious than anything ever reported.
“Under Operation Paperclip, which began in May of 1945, the scientists who helped the Third Reich wage war continued their weapons-related work for the U.S. government, developing rockets, chemical and biological weapons, aviation and space medicine (for enhancing military pilot and astronaut performance), and many other armaments at a feverish and paranoid pace that came to define the Cold War,” Jacobsen writes.
The book follows 21 former Nazis, with 8 of them previously working side by side with Hitler and his top lieutenants. According to her, they joined the fight against the Soviets with the blessing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It reveals the weird, “funhouse-like theater” that was pervasive throughout the U.S. military and intelligence agencies at the time, and takes the reader further than previous authors have dared to tread: It explores the nexus of Nazis and Americans who had been killing each other just years before.
In a memorable paragraph, she describes U.S.-Nazi collaboration over LSD.
Quoting a memorandum on a program titled U.S. Artichoke, she writes, “Between 4 June 1952 and 18 June 1952, an IS&O [CIA Inspection and Security Office] team… applied Artichoke techniques to two operational cases in a safe house. In the first case, light dosages of drugs coupled with hypnosis were used to induce a complete hypnotic trance… This trance was held for approximately one hour and forty minutes of interrogation with a subsequent total amnesia produced.”
She also assumes – rightly – that the CIA teamed up with former Nazis to develop interrogation techniques (also known as Project MK-ULTRA, Project CHATTER, Project BLUEBIRD, and Project ARTICHOKE).
“The CIA teamed up with Army, Air Force and Naval Intelligence to run one of the most nefarious, classified, enhanced interrogation programs of the Cold War,” Jacobsen writes. “The work took place inside a clandestine facility in the American zone of occupied Germany, called Camp King. The facility’s chief medical doctor was Operation Paperclip’s Dr. Walter Schreiber, the former Surgeon General of the Third Reich… The activities that went on at Camp King between 1946 and the late 1950s have never been fully accounted for by either the Department of Defense or the CIA.”
Of course, the mainstream media has painted Jacobsen, who is also a reporter for the L.A. Times, as a loony tune, citing an incident in 2004. While on a flight between Detroit and L.A., she reported 13 Middle Eastern men who appeared to be performing a “dry run” for a terrorist attack. All 13 men were detained after the flight and then released, with none being charged with a crime. Apparently, they were “musicians” traveling to perform. While noting that they would’ve looked suspicious to anyone, Snopes called the whole account false, which painted a picture of Jacobsen as a racist, paranoid schizo.
Almost 1,000 Nazi scientists were given U.S. citizenship in the decade after WWII. Many of them had been Gestapo members, and directly worked in the concentration camps. CNN reporter Linda Hunt first revealed Operation Paperclip in her 1991 book, Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945–1990, and called it “the biggest, longest-running operation involving Nazis in [U.S.] history.”
An excerpt of the book has been published in the Daily Beast:
It was 1946 and World War II had ended less than one year before… Since [the] war’s end, across the ruins of the Third Reich, U.S. military officers had been capturing and then hiring Hitler’s weapons makers, in a Top Secret program that would become known as Operation Paperclip. Soon, more than 1,600 of these men and their families would be living the American dream… From these Nazi scientists, U.S. military and intelligence organizations culled knowledge of Hitler’s most menacing weapons including sarin gas and weaponized bubonic plague.
As the Cold War progressed, the program expanded… In 1948, Operation Paperclip’s Brigadier General Charles E. Loucks, Chief of U.S. Chemical Warfare Plans in Europe, was working with Hitler’s former chemists when one of the scientists, Nobel Prize winner Richard Kuhn, shared with General Loucks information about a drug with military potential being developed by Swiss chemists. This drug, a hallucinogen, had astounding potential properties if successfully weaponized. In documents recently discovered at the U.S. Army Heritage Center in Pennsylvania, Loucks quickly became enamored with the idea that this drug could be used on the battlefield to “incapacitate not kill.” The drug was Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD.
Other Nazis hired by the U.S. space program included:
Major General Walter Dornberger, a close associate of von Braun’s
Werner Heisenberg, physicist and Nobel laureate who founded quantum mechanics
gaseous uranium centrifuge expert Dr. Paul Harteck
Nazi atomic bomb physicist and military project leader Kurt Diebner
uranium enrichment expert Erich Bagge
1944 Nobel Prize winner Otto Hahn, called the “father of nuclear chemistry”
scientists Carl Friedrich von Weizsaecker, Karl Wirtz, and Horst Korsching
physicist Walter Gerlach
It definitely sounds like an excellent read, and a good addition to any real historian’s library.
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