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Operation Paperclip

Secret U.S. intelligence program

Between 1945 and 1959, Operation Paperclip was a secret U.S. intelligence program in which approximately 1,600 German scientists, engineers and technicians were transferred from former Nazi Germany to the United States for government employment following the end of World War II in Europe. It was carried out mostly by special agents of the U.S. Army's Counterintelligence Corps and was carried out by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) (CIC). Many of these persons were previous Nazi Party members, and others were previous Nazi Party leaders. 1)

Osenberg List

By early 1943, the German government had begun returning a number of scientists, engineers and technicians from combat to return to work in research and development to help prepare Germany for a long war with the Soviet Union. About 4,000 rocketeers were recalled from frontline battle and sent to Peenemünde on Germany's northeast coast. 2)

Osenberg List 2

The Nazi government's recall of their now-useful intellectuals for scientific labor included first identifying and locating the scientists, engineers and technicians, followed by determining their political and ideological dependability. Werner Osenberg, the engineer-scientist in charge of the Wehrforschungsgemeinschaft, added the names of the politically cleared members to the Osenberg List, reintroducing them into scientific work. 3)

Osenberg List 3

In March 1945, a Polish laboratory employee discovered fragments of the Osenberg List tucked in a toilet at Bonn University; the list was later obtained by MI6, which passed it on to U.S. intelligence. The Osenberg List was then used by U.S. Army Major Robert B. Staver, Chief of the Jet Propulsion Section of the Research and Intelligence Branch of the US Army Ordnance Corps, to compile his list of German scientists to be captured and interrogated; Wernher von Braun, Germany's premier rocket scientist, was at the top of Major Staver's list. 4)

Operation Overcast

The majority of the Osenberg List engineers worked at the Baltic coast German Army Research Center Peenemünde, where the V-2 rocket was developed. Following their capture, the Allies originally kept them and their families in Landshut, Bavaria, in southern Germany. The captured ARC rocketeers were supervised by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) under Operation Overcast, which began on July 19, 1945. However, when the name “Camp Overcast” of the scientists' quarters became widely known in the community, the program was renamed Operation Paperclip in November 1945. 5)

Project Safehaven

The effort was named “Project Safehaven” and it was aimed at German scientists who would emigrate and continue their study in nations such as Spain, Argentina or Egypt, all of which had sympathized with Nazi Germany. To circumvent the issues associated with the exodus of German scientists, the CIOS was in charge of scouting and kidnapping high-profile individuals for the deprivation of technical progress in countries other than the United States. 6)


By 1947, an estimated 1,800 technicians and scientists, as well as 3,700 family members, had been evacuated. Those with specific abilities or expertise were sent to detention and interrogation sites, such as DUSTBIN, where they were kept and interrogated for months, in some cases. A handful of the scientists were rounded up in Operation Overcast, but the majority were relocated to settlements in the countryside with no research facilities or jobs; they were given stipends and required to report to police headquarters twice a week to deter them from fleeing. 7)

operation_paperclip.txt · Last modified: 2021/12/13 19:36 by rapidplatypus