After WWII ended in 1945, victorious Russian and American intelligence teams began a treasure hunt throughout occupied Germany for military and scientific booty. They were looking for things like new rocket and aircraft designs, medicines, and electronics. But they were also hunting down the most precious "spoils" of all: the scientists whose work had nearly won the war for Germany. The engineers and intelligence officers of the Nazi War Machine.
The U.S. Military rounded up Nazi scientists and brought them to America. It had originally intended merely to debrief them and send them back to Germany. But when it realized the extent of the scientists knowledge and expertise, the War Department decided it would be a waste to send the scientists home. Following the discovery of flying discs (foo fighters), particle/laser beam weaponry in German military bases, the War Department decided that NASA and the CIA must control this technology, and the Nazi engineers that had worked on this technology.
There was only one problem: it was illegal. U.S. law explicitly prohibited Nazi officials from immigrating to America--and as many as three-quarters of the scientists in question had been committed Nazis.
Convinced that German scientists could help America's postwar efforts, President Harry Truman agreed in September 1946 to authorize "Project Paperclip," a program to bring selected German scientists to work on America's behalf during the "Cold War"
However, Truman expressly excluded anyone found "to have been a member of the Nazi party and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Naziism or militarism."
The War Department's Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) conducted background investigations of the scientists. In February 1947, JIOA Director Bosquet Wev submitted the first set of scientists' dossiers to the State and Justice Departments for review.
The Dossiers were damning. Samuel Klaus, the State Departments representative on the JIOA board, claimed that all the scientists in this first batch were "ardent Nazis." Their visa requests were denied.
Wev was furious. He wrote a memo warning that "the best interests of the United States have been subjugated to the efforts expended in 'beating a dead Nazi horse.'" He also declared that the return of these scientists to Germany, where they could be exploited by America's enemies, presented a "far greater security threat to this country than any former Nazi affiliations which they may have had or even any Nazi sympathies that they may still have."
When the JIOA formed to investigate the backgrounds and form dossiers on the Nazis, the Nazi Intelligence leader Reinhard Gehlen met with the CIA director Allen Dulles. Dulles and Gehlen hit it off immediatly. Gehlen was a master spy for the Nazis and had infiltrated Russia with his vast Nazi Intelligence network. Dulles promised Gehlen that his Intelligence unit was safe in the CIA.
Apparently, Wev decided to sidestep the problem. Dulles had the scientists dossier's re-written to eliminate incriminating evidence. As promised, Allen Dulles delivered the Nazi Intelligence unit to the CIA, which later opened many umbrella projects stemming from Nazi mad research. (MK-ULTRA / ARTICHOKE, OPERATION MIDNIGHT CLIMAX)
Military Intelligence "cleansed" the files of Nazi references. By 1955, more than 760 German scientists had been granted citizenship in the U.S. and given prominent positions in the American scientific community. Many had been longtime members of the Nazi party and the Gestapo, had conducted experiments on humans at concentration camps, had used slave labor, and had committed other war crimes.
In a 1985 expose in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Linda Hunt wrote that she had examined more than 130 reports on Project Paperclip subjects--and every one "had been changed to eliminate the security threat classification."
President Truman, who had explicitly ordered no committed Nazis to be admitted under Project Paperclip, was evidently never aware that his directive had been violated. State Department archives and the memoirs of officials from that era confirm this. In fact, according to Clare Lasby's book Operation Paperclip, project officials "covered their designs with such secrecy that it bedeviled their own President; at Potsdam he denied their activities and undoubtedly enhanced Russian suspicion and distrust," quite possibly fueling the Cold War even further.
A good example of how these dossiers were changed is the case of Wernher von Braun. A September 18, 1947, report on the German rocket scientist stated, "Subject is regarded as a potential security threat by the Military Governor."
The following February, a new security evaluation of Von Braun said, "No derogatory information is available on the subject...It is the opinion of the Military Governor that he may not constitute a security threat to the United States."
Here are a few of the 700 suspicious characters who were allowed to immigrate through Project Paperclip:
Arthur Rudolph: During the war, Rudolph was operations director of the Mittelwerk factory at the Dora-Nordhausen concentration camps, where 20,000 workers died from beatings, hangings, and starvation. Rudolph had been a member of the Nazi party since 1931; a 1945 military file on him said simply: "100% Nazi, dangerous type, security threat..!! Suggest internment."
But the JIOA's final dossier on him said there was "nothing in his records indicating that he was a war criminal or and ardent Nazi or otherwise objectionable." Rudolph became a US citizen and later designed the Saturn 5 rocket used in the Apollo moon landings. In 1984, when his war record was finally investigated, he fled to West Germany.
Wernher von Braun: From 1937 to 1945, von Braun was the technical director of the Peenemünde rocket research center, where the V-2 rocket --which devastated England--was developed. As noted previously, his dossier was rewritten so he didn't appear tohave been an enthusiastic Nazi.
Von Braun worked on guided missiles for the U.S. Army and was later director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. He became a celebrity in the 1950s and early 1960s, as one of Walt Disney's experts on the "World of Tomorrow." In 1970, he became NASA's associate administrator.
Kurt Blome: A high-ranking Nazi scientist, Blome told U.S. military interrogators in 1945 that he had been ordered 1943 to experiment with plague vaccines on concentration camp prisoners. He was tried at Nuremberg in 1947 on charges of practicing euthanasia (extermination of sick prisoners), and conducting experiments on humans. Although acquitted, his earlier admissions were well known, and it was generally accepted that he had indeed participated in the gruesome experiments.
Two months after his Nuremberg acquittal, Blome was interviewed at Camp David, Maryland, about biological warfare. In 1951, he was hired by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps to work on chemical warfare. His file neglected to mention Nuremberg.
Major General Schreiber: According to Linda Hunt's article, the US military tribunal at Nuremberg heard evidence that "Schreiber had assigned doctors to experiment on concentration camp prisoners and had made funds available for such experimentation." The assistant prosecutor said the evidence would have convicted Schreiber if the Soviets, who held him from 1945 to 1948, had made him available for trial.
Again, Schreiber's Paperclip file made no mention of this evidence; the project found work for him at the Air Force School of Medicine at Randolph Field in Texas. When columnist Drew Pearson publicized the Nuremberg evidence in 1952, the negative publicity led the JIOA, says Hunt, to arrange "a visa and a job for Schreiber in Argentina, where his daughter was living." on May 22, 1952, he was flown to Buenos Aires.
Hermann Becker-Freysing and Siegfried Ruff: These two, along with Blome, were among the 23 defendants in the Nuremberg War Trials "Medical Case." Becker-Freysing was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for conducting experiments on Dachau inmates, such as starving them, then force-feeding them seawater that had been chemically altered to make it drinkable. Ruff was acquitted (in a close decision) on charges that he had killed as many as 80 Dachau inmates in a low-pressure chamber designed to simulate altitudes in excess of 60,000 feet. Before their trial, Becker-Freysing and Ruff were paid by the Army Air Force to write reports about their grotesque experiments.
General Reinhard Gehlen: It was five years after the end of WW2 but one of Hitler's chief intelligence officers was still on the job. From a walled-in compound in Bavaria, General Reinhard Gehlen oversaw a vast network of intelligence agents spying on Russia. His top aides were Nazi zealots who had committed some of the most notorious crimes of the war. Gehlen and his SS united were hired, and swiftly became agents of the CIA when they revealed their massive records on the Soviet Union to the US.
Gehlen derived much of his information from his role in one of the most terrible atrocities of the war: the torture, interrogation and murder by starvation of some four million Soviet prisoners. Prisoners who refused to cooperate were often tortured or summarily executed. May were executed even after they had given information, while others were simply left to starve to death. As a result, Gehlen and members of his organization maneuvered to make sure they were captured by advancing American troops rather than Russians, who would have executed them immediately.
Two months before Germany surrendered in 1945, the Gehlen organization made its move. Gehlen and a small group of his most senior officers carefully microfilmed the vast holding on the USSR in the military section of the German army's general staff. They packed the film in watertight steel drums and secretly buried it in a remote mountain meadow scattered throughout the Austrian Alps.
General William Donovan and Allen Dulles of the CIA were tipped off about Gehlen's surrender and his offer of Russian intelligence in exchange for a job. The CIA was soon jockeying with military intelligence for authority over Gehlen's microfilmed records--and control of the German spymaster. Dulles arranged for a private intelligence facility in West Germany to be established, and named it the Geheln Organization. Gehlen promised not to hire any former SS, SD, or Gestapo members; he hired them anyway, and the CIA did not stop him.
Two of Gehlen's early recruits were Emil Augsburg and Dr. Franz Six, who had been part of mobile killing squads, which killed Jews, intellectuals, and Soviet partisans wherever they found them. Other early recruits included Willi Krichbaum, senior Gestapo leader for southeastern Europe, and the Gestapo chiefs of Paris and Kiel, Germany.
With the encouragement of the CIA, Gehlen Org (Licio Gelli) set up "rat lines" to get Nazi war criminals out of Europe so they wouldn't be prosecuted. By setting up transit camps and issuing phony passports, the Gehlen Org helped more than 5,000 Nazis leave Europe and relocate around the world, especially in South and Central America. There, mass murderers like Klaus Barbie (the butcher of Lyons) helped governments set up death squads in Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, and elsewhere.
Klaus Barbie: Known as the Nazi butcher of Lyons, France during World War 2, Barbie was part of the SS which was responsible for the and death of thousands of French people under the Germany occupation.
Heinrich Rupp: Some of Rupp's best work was done for the CIA, after he was imported in Operation Paperclip. Rupp has been convicted of bank fraud. He was an operative for the CIA and is deeply involved in the Savings and Loan scandals. A federal jury has indicated they believe testimony that Rupp, the late CIA Director William Casey - then Reagan's campaign manager, and Donald Gregg, now U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, flew with George Bush to Paris in 1980, during the election in which Bush was on the ticket with Ronald Reagan. The testimony states that three meetings were held on October 19 and 20 at the Hotel Florida and Hotel Crillion. The subject? According to the court testimony, the meetings were to sabotage President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign by delaying the release of American hostages in Iran. The hostages were released on January 20, 1981, right after Reagan and Bush were sworn into office. Iran was promised return of its frozen assets in the United States and the foundation for the Iran- Contra deal was set into motion.
Licio Gelli: Head of a 2400 member secret Masonic Lodge, P2, a neo-fascist organization, in Italy that catered to only the elite, Gelli had high connections in the Vatican, even though he was not a Catholic. P2's membership is totally secret and not even available to its Mother Lodge in England. Gelli was responsible for providing Argentina with the Exocet missile. He was a double agent for the CIA and the KGB. He assisted many former Nazi high officials in their escape from Europe to Central America. He had close ties with the Italian Mafia. Gelli was a close associate of Benito Mussolini. He was also closely affiliated with Roberto Calvi, head of the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank. Calvi was murdered. Gelli's secret lodge consisted of extremely important people, including armed forces commanders, secret service chiefs, head of Italy's financial police, 30 generals, eight admirals, newspaper editors, television and top business executives and key bankers - including Calvi. Licio Gelli and others in P2 were behind the assassination of Pope John Paul 1.
The central figure in Europe and South America that linked the CIA, Masonic Lodge, Vatican, ex-Nazis and several South American governments, the Italian government and several international banks was Licio Gelli. He, with Klaus Barbie and Heinrich Rupp, met with Ronald R. Rewald in Uruguay to arrange for the Argentine purchase of the French-made Exocet missile, used in the Falkland Island attack to kill British soldiers.
To understand Gelli, one must understand the complex post war years of Europe. The biggest threat to Europe in pre-war times was Communism - it was the great fear of Communism that gave birth to the Fascists and the Nazis. Though both sides were dreaded, the Fascists represented right-wing government, while the Communist represent left-wing government. It was the right-wing that the United States and the Catholic Church desired over Communism - because Communism would destroy the capitalistic system. This is why the CIA and the Vatican had go through with Operation Paperclip. The Nazis had massive amounts of Soviet intelligence, had infiltrated Communist partisans, and were in no way going to be given up to the Soviet Union.
Gelli worked both sides. He helped to found the Red Brigade, spied on Communist partisans and worked for the Nazis at the same time, a double agent. He helped establish the Rat Line, which assisted the flight of high ranking Nazi officials from Europe to South America, with passports supplied by the Vatican and with the full acknowledgment and blessing of the United States intelligence community. While on one hand, the U.S. participated in the war crime tribunals of key Nazi officials and maintained an alliance with the Communist Soviet Union, secretly, the U.S. was preparing for the cold war and needed the help of Nazis in the eventual struggle the U.S. would have with the Soviet Union. Gelli's agreement with U.S. intelligence to spy on the Communists after the war was instrumental in saving his life. He was responsible for the murder and torture of hundreds of Yugoslavian partisans.
The Vatican provided support to Nazis and Fascists because the Communists were the real threat to the Church's survival. The Italian Communists would have taxed the Church's vast holdings and the Church has had a dismal experience with Communist governments throughout the world - where religious freedom was stamped out.
Gelli was well connected with the Vatican from the days of the Rat Line and he worked for American intelligence, as well. Gelli formed the P-2 Masonic Lodge-which did not follow the direction of any Grand Lodge-and it was supplied with a sum of $10 million a month by the CIA. Its membership was a Who's Who in the intelligence, military and Italian community. So prominent was Gelli's influence, that he was even a guest of honor at the 1981 inauguration of President Ronald Reagan.
Gelli and his P-2 lodge had staggering connections to banking, intelligence and diplomatic passports. The CIA poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Italy in the form of secret subsidies for political parties, labor unions and communications businesses. At the same time the Agency continued its relationship with far- right and violent elements as a back-up should a coup be needed to oust a possible Communist government. This covert financing was exposed by the Prime Minister of Italy in a speech to Parliament. He indicates that more than 600 people in Italy still remain on the payroll of the CIA. Licio Gelli was an ardent Nazi and a perfect asset of the CIA. As part of Reinhard Gehlen's intelligence team, he had excellent contacts. Licio was the go between for the CIA and the Vatican through his P-2 Lodge.
1. It's a Conspiracy! Michael Litchfield, Earthworks Press