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Taking Nazi Technology

Allied Exploitation of German Science after the Second World War

Douglas M. O'Reagan

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Intriguing, real-life espionage stories bring to life a comparative history of the Allies' efforts to seize, control, and exploit German science and technology after the Second World War.

During the Second World War, German science and technology posed a terrifying threat to the Allied nations. These advanced weapons, which included rockets, V-2 missiles, tanks, submarines, and jet airplanes, gave troubling credence to Nazi propaganda about forthcoming "wonder-weapons" that would turn the war decisively in favor of the Axis. After the war ended, the Allied powers raced to seize "intellectual…

Intriguing, real-life espionage stories bring to life a comparative history of the Allies' efforts to seize, control, and exploit German science and technology after the Second World War.

During the Second World War, German science and technology posed a terrifying threat to the Allied nations. These advanced weapons, which included rockets, V-2 missiles, tanks, submarines, and jet airplanes, gave troubling credence to Nazi propaganda about forthcoming "wonder-weapons" that would turn the war decisively in favor of the Axis. After the war ended, the Allied powers raced to seize "intellectual reparations" from almost every field of industrial technology and academic science in occupied Germany. It was likely the largest-scale technology transfer in history.

In Taking Nazi Technology, Douglas M. O'Reagan describes how the Western Allies gathered teams of experts to scour defeated Germany, seeking industrial secrets and the technical personnel who could explain them. Swarms of investigators invaded Germany's factories and research institutions, seizing or copying all kinds of documents, from patent applications to factory production data to science journals. They questioned, hired, and sometimes even kidnapped hundreds of scientists, engineers, and other technical personnel. They studied technologies from aeronautics to audiotapes, toy making to machine tools, chemicals to carpentry equipment. They took over academic libraries, jealously competed over chemists, and schemed to deny the fruits of German invention to any other land—including that of other Allied nations.

Drawing on declassified records, O'Reagan looks at which techniques worked for these very different nations, as well as which failed—and why. Most importantly, he shows why securing this technology, how the Allies did it, and when still matters today. He also argues that these programs did far more than spread German industrial science: they forced businessmen and policymakers around the world to rethink how science and technology fit into diplomacy, business, and society itself.

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Taking Nazi Technology

Douglas M. O'Reagan

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Reviews

Taking Nazi Technology details what the Americans found when they began looting Nazi Germany. At a time when the United States has become deeply insecure about its technological leadership, the story has important lessons for policymakers.

O'Reagan's masterful study of the Allies' technology transfer in all four zones and in all of its many facets, successes, and shortcomings is a most welcome contribution to Allied occupation history and to the history of technology in general.

O'Reagan has done an important service to move the literature beyond the narratives surrounding individual programs and toward new and bigger themes.

A very interesting new book.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
296
ISBN
9781421439846
Illustration Description
4 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
Chapter 1. American Exploitation Programs: High Hopes, Narrow Gains, and Long-Term Lessons
Chapter 2. British Scientific Exploitation and the Allure of

Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
Chapter 1. American Exploitation Programs: High Hopes, Narrow Gains, and Long-Term Lessons
Chapter 2. British Scientific Exploitation and the Allure of German Know-How
Chapter 3. French Planning for German Science: Student Spies and Exploitation in Place
Chapter 4. Soviet Reparations and the Seizure of German Science and Technology
Chapter 5. Academic Science and the Reconstruction of Germany
Chapter 6. Documentation and Information Technology: Dealing with Information Overload
Chapter 7. Legacies of Intellectual Reparations Programs: Industrial Know-How in the Postwar World
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Douglas M. O'Reagan

Douglas M. O'Reagan is a historian of technology, industry, and national security. He earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.