“Although she understandably questions the morality of the decision to hire Nazi SS scientists, Jacobsen balances her judgment with an understanding of the perceived threat of the Soviet Union under Stalin and the communists’ dialectical determination to prepare for total war with the West. “
Operation Paperclip — Book review by CIA Jay Watkins
Hildegard Martha Lächert (20 January 1920 – 1995) was a notorious female guard, Aufseherin, at several German World War II concentration camps. She became publicly known for her service at Ravensbrück, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
After the war she was sentenced to a total of 27 years in prison for her brutal treatment of inmates during her camp service of which she only served close to ten. [WIKIPEDIA]
According to documents recently discovered, the former SS later worked for the CIA and then for the West German spy agency the German Federal Intelligence Service : the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst).
Considering the magnitude of the crimes she committed during the war, this case is certainly shocking. Perhaps it is also an opportunity to reflect on the different choices the US made in Germany and in Iraq.
Operation “Paper Clip”: Recruiting Former NAZI
Operation Paperclip was the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program in which more than 1,500 Germans, primarily scientists but also engineers and technicians, were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany for government employment starting in 1945 and increasing in the aftermath of World War II. It was conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and in the context of the burgeoning Cold War.
One purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, as well as to inhibit post-war Germany from redeveloping its military research capabilities. A related course of action was taken by the US with regard to Japanese human experimenters employed from Unit 731. [WIKIPEDIA]
For those interested, you can watch this documentary: “Operation Paperclip:The CIA and the Nazis”.
De-Baathification in Post-Saddam Iraq
The de-Baathification of Iraq is widely recognized as one of the key mistakes that led to the creation of ISIS. (The establishment of ‘Camp Bucca’ is another one.)
In order to ensure that Saddam loyalists had no stake in the new, democratic Iraq the US sought to create, thousands of members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party were expelled from the Iraqi army, government and intelligence agencies.
Out of work, humiliated, and resentful of perceived injustices against the Sunni minority in Iraq by the new Shia-dominated government, the Baathists were prime targets for recruitment by radical jihadists in Iraq, including Isis forerunner Al Qaeda in Iraq. [Isis: Five US mistakes which led to the rise of Islamic State]
‘A Great Scandal’ ?
The hiring of former war criminals by US Intelligence Agencies is often described as a great scandal in modern History. And it is probably true. Was the de-Baathification of Iraq a huge mistake? Certainly. Engage or enrage? That is the question.
Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program to Bring Nazi Scientists to America — Annie Jacobsen. (Little, Brown & Company, 2014)
Book review by Jay Watkins : CIA Website