Annie Jacobsen’s Operation Paperclip

Feb 16, 2014

nitinol_paperclipWhat does it say about a country or even a world that in the midst of defeating a great evil, the priority is not justice or morality, but preserving its brain trust?

In August 1945, President Truman agreed to the execution of Operation Paperclip—recruiting German scientists so that America would benefit from their knowledge and expertise. Truman’s order, though, expressly excluded anyone who had been a member of the Nazi Party, was a “nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazi militarism.” That would rule out a lot of valuable folks, so the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) had to find a way around this explicit order. And they did. As many as 1,600 nuclear physicists, chemists, physicians, engineers, and naval weaponeers, and rocket scientists—including the “Father of Rocket Science” Wernher von Braun—were successfully “bleached” of their Nazism and brought to work for the United States. (Operation Paperclip)

Former Los Angeles Times Magazine writer Annie Jacobsen will be at Vroman’s Bookstore on Wednesday, February 19th, to discuss and sign her new book Operation Paperclip:  The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of Paperclip family members, colleagues, and interrogators, and with access to German archival documents (including papers made available to her by direct descendants of the Third Reich’s ranking members), files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and lost dossiers discovered at the National Archives and Harvard University, Annie Jacobsen follows more than a dozen German scientists through their postwar lives and into one of the most complex, nefarious, and jealously guarded government secrets of the 20th century. (VromansBookstore)

(L-R):  Ernst Stuhlinger, Major General H. N. Toftoy, Hermann Oberth, Werner von Braun, and Eberhard Rees; source, NASA

Officials of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, 1956, (L-R): Ernst Stuhlinger, Major General H. N. Toftoy, Hermann Oberth, Werner von Braun, and Eberhard Rees; N.Y. Post

Annie Jacobsen Discusses & Signs Operation Paperclip
Wednesday, Feb. 19th, 6:30 p.m.
Vroman’s, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena 91101
Free event; cost of book, $30
For more info, visit






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