Case Study: Operation Paperclip

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While the United States’ general policy of extracting various highly-skilled professionals from postwar Germany was a wise one, the lack of oversight and controls enabled an element of the United States government to pursue its own vision of strategic interests at the cost of justice and America’s own values. The case study I will be examining is Operation Paperclip, the classified intelligence program that imported about 1600 German scientists and doctors, many of whom were laundered Nazis, into the United States for the purpose of assimilating the technology of the Third Reich. Hitler’s regime was known during the war to have had a distinct technological advantage over the Allies, particularly evidenced by the V-2 rocket. It was described…show more content…
The first was that the United States should under no circumstances employ or work with Nazis. Presidents Roosevelt and Truman both took this hardline position, realizing that to do so would be a gross miscarriage of justice that would lead to an untenable backlash and an erosion of trust in the government, which it did. The second was that using Nazi scientists was the lesser of two evils; that it was a horrible thing to do, but that any other outcome was less desirable, and so we must reluctantly make the best choice. The third is also a rather hardline position: that there were no conflicts in the employment of Nazis. LTC Harry Armstrong was among the holders of this opinion, as were the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To them, the Nazi threat was over, and a new, perhaps worse threat loomed on the horizon in the form of the Communists. They took a purely Machiavellian approach - these technologies already existed, the genie was out of the bottle, the men responsible for them were invaluable, and the only logical way forward was for the United States to be their sole beneficiary. There was no point wasting time and effort in sluggishly accepting this option, in their estimation. This point of view was helped along by the excitement about the utility of appropriated technologies, which often overshadowed the…show more content…
A 1948 Communist coup in the former Czechoslovakia, the first successful Soviet test of a nuclear device in 1949, their development of the first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in 1957 and the subsequent launching of Sputnik later the same year all increasingly galvanized supporters of military research and development, with people becoming concerned with countering the Soviets more so than who was responsible for the work. Technologies developed thus far through Nazi collaboration were already benefiting Americans greatly, with even former Vice President Henry Wallace in support. Not everyone in America, however, had become convinced that the operation was kosher. There were ongoing protests from organizations such as the Jewish American Congress, and some even took the delivery of justice into their own
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