New York Times, March 11, 1985, p. ?
NAZI WHITEWASH IN 1940’S CHARGED
Documents Show Intelligence Officials Changed Reports to Obtain Scientists
By Ralph Blumenthal
American intelligence officials concealed the Nazi records of hundreds of
former enemy scientists to try to get them into the United States after
World War II, contrary to a Presidential order and against the objections
of the State Department, according to declassified Government documents.
The documents, disclosed in a coming magazine article, reveal the
American authorities knew that many of the specialists were “ardent
Nazis” implicated in atrocities and doctored their dossiers to hide this.
How many Nazis got into the United States because of dossier changes is
not clear. Not all of the dossiers were declassified.
It is also unclear if the State Department was able to prevent any of the
Nazis from entering. Dossiers were changed to get around anticipated
State Department objections.
Some Accused of War Crimes
The documents also show that among those hired for American research were
several specialists who were later charged with war crimes at Nuremberg
and one who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison at Dachau.
At least one of these got into the United States.
Also among those whose files were upgraded, the records show, was Wernher
von Braun, a major in the Nazi SS who developed the V-2 rocket in wartime
Germany and later headed the American space program. Dr. von Braun, who
died in 1977, was initially labeled “a potential security theat” but the
assessment was revised on the request of American military officials.
Between 1945 and 1955, some 800 former enemy rocket experts and other
specialists were brought into the country under an American intelligence
program first called Overcast and then Project Paperclip. By order of
President Truman, the program was barred to active Nazi members or
supporters of Nazism.
But documents disclosed in an article in the April issue of the Bulletin
of the Atomic Scintists show that officials of the Joint Intelligence
Objectives Agency under the Joint Chiefs of Staff had a practice of
requesting changes in negative dossiers on specialists they wanted to
recruit. The Bulletin is a non-profit monthly magazine published by the
Educational Foundation of Nuclear Science in Chicago.
Declassified Documents Quoted
The article, by Linda Hunt, a reporter and documentary producer, quotes
from hundreds of declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of
Information Act. Some key documents were made available to The New York
Times and verified independently.
Although a number of the officials named have since died or cannot be
located, some of the events described were corroborated by a former State
Department intelligence official cited in the documents.
“We got into several rounds because it looked like they were trying to
dump” the Germans in the United States, recalled Herbert J. Cummings, a
former assistant chief of the State Department’s Bureau of Foreign
Activity Correlation. Now retired in Washington, he confirmed that he
was the unnamed official cited in the article as having “hit the ceiling”
after finding discrepancies in the records of Paperclip scientists.
Among those listed in the documents as working for the Army Air Force in
Heidelberg in 1946 and recommended for transfer to Wright Field in Ohio
was Dr. Herman Becker-Freysing, former director of aeromedical research
for the German Air Force. Shortly afterward he was convicted at
Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison for a role in experiments
on Dachau prisoners who died after drinking sea water to test its
‘Beating a Dead Nazi Horse’
Also listed as Paperclip recruits were three defendants acquitted at
Nuremberg. Washington arranged for a fourth Paperclip scientist, Walter
Schreiber, to be flown from the United States to Argentina in 1952 after
disclosure of documents linking him to the Nazi euthanasia program.
Arthur Rudolph, a German-born top manager for NASA, moved back to West
Germany and surrendered his American citizenship last year rather than
contest charges that he had worked slave laborers to death at a Nazi
rocket factory. His file too was revised, records show.
As told in the documents, by mid-1947 Paperclip had reached “a complete
stalemate,” according to a memorandum by the director of the Joint
Intelligence Objectives Agency, Capt. Bosquet N. Wev of the Nazy.
Captain Wev, now thought to be dead, complained that the State Department
was “beating a dead Nazi horse” by demanding additional time-consuming
security checks of Paperclip candidates.
Subsequent documents show that thereafter, when the Office of the
Military Governor in Germany provided unfavorable security reports on
prospective Paperclip scientists, the Joint Intelligence Objectives
Agency counseled Army and Navy officials in the program not to send the
dossiers on to the State or Justice Departments.
Rather, said an agency memorandum of Nov. 28, 1947, “this agency intends
to ask the Headquarters, European Command, to re-evaluate these reports
with the comment that subjects of these reports were not considered to
be potential security threats to the United States and it is, therefore,
believed that their classification as ardent Nazis should be revised
since such classification is a bar to immigration.”
Jamie R. McCarthy [email protected] (preferred)
Director of Programming [email protected]
Lawrence Productions Inc.
The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Archive/File: people/b/becker-freysing.herman/press nyt.031185
people/r/rudolph.arthur/press nyt.031185 people/s/schreiber.walter/press
nyt.031185 people/v/von-braun.wernher/press nyt.031185
From: [email protected] (Jamie R. McCarthy)
Subject: NYT article, March 11, 1985