Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Our Germans

Our Germans

Project Paperclip and the National Security State

Brian E. Crim

Publication Date
Binding Type

A gripping history of one of the United States' most controversial Cold War intelligence operations.

Project Paperclip brought hundreds of German scientists and engineers, including aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, to the United States in the first decade after World War II. More than the freighters full of equipment or the documents recovered from caves and hastily abandoned warehouses, the German brains who designed and built the V-2 rocket and other "wonder weapons" for the Third Reich proved invaluable to America's emerging military-industrial complex. Whether they remained under...

A gripping history of one of the United States' most controversial Cold War intelligence operations.

Project Paperclip brought hundreds of German scientists and engineers, including aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, to the United States in the first decade after World War II. More than the freighters full of equipment or the documents recovered from caves and hastily abandoned warehouses, the German brains who designed and built the V-2 rocket and other "wonder weapons" for the Third Reich proved invaluable to America's emerging military-industrial complex. Whether they remained under military employment, transitioned to civilian agencies like NASA, or sought more lucrative careers with corporations flush with government contracts, German specialists recruited into the Paperclip program assumed enormously influential positions within the labyrinthine national security state.

Drawing on recently declassified documents from intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, the FBI, and the State Department, Brian E. Crim's Our Germans examines the process of integrating German scientists into a national security state dominated by the armed services and defense industries. Crim explains how the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency enticed targeted scientists, whitewashed the records of Nazis and war criminals, and deceived government agencies about the content of security investigations. Exploring the vicious bureaucratic rivalries that erupted over the wisdom, efficacy, and morality of pursuing Paperclip, Our Germans reveals how some Paperclip proponents and scientists influenced the perception of the rival Soviet threat by volunteering inflated estimates of Russian intentions and technical capabilities.

As it describes the project's embattled legacy, Our Germans reflects on the myriad ways that Paperclip has been remembered in culture and national memory. As this engaging book demonstrates, whether characterized as an expedient Cold War program born from military necessity or a dishonorable episode, the project ultimately reflects American ambivalence about the military-industrial complex and the viability of an "ends justifies the means" solution to external threats.

Reviews

Reviews

Through participant vignettes, historian Crim provides insight into early Cold War decision-making in this well-documented, microhistorical, dissertation-like expose of Project Paperclip. Highly recommended.

A very fine account concerning the internal dynamics of the Paperclip program, providing a more nuanced evaluation than has hitherto been available.

At a time when drones, cyberweapons, and other high technology continue to substitute for coherent foreign policy, Crim's book is a sober reminder of the moral hazards of a technocratic national security state.

What distinguishes Our Germans is its emphasis on the role of the specialists in the emerging national security state of the early Cold War, where Project Paperclip 'exacerbated the growing rift between the State Department and an ascendant national security bureaucracy' (99). But most importantly, Our Germans is a much-needed update and expansion of Clarence Lasby's 1971 Project Paperclip: German Scientists and the Cold War.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the US government recruited hundreds of German scientists and engineers, including the designers of the V2 rocket, to staff American agencies and companies under the so-called Paperclip programme. Crim draws on recently declassified documents to reveal the history of the programme and the controversies it provoked.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
264
ISBN
9781421438184
Illustration Description
12 b&w photos
Table of Contents

List of Figures
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
1. Aristocracy of Evil
2. Implements of Progress
3. Conscientious Objectors
4. Their Germans
5. Paperclip Vindicated
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography

List of Figures
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
1. Aristocracy of Evil
2. Implements of Progress
3. Conscientious Objectors
4. Their Germans
5. Paperclip Vindicated
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Brian E. Crim
Featured Contributor

Brian E. Crim

Brian E. Crim is a professor of history at the University of Lynchburg. He is the author of Antisemitism in the German Military Community and the Jewish Response, 1914–1938 and the editor of Class of '31: A German-Jewish Émigré's Journey across Defeated Germany.