Monday, February 26, 2018

Brian E. Crim's "Our Germans"

Brian E. Crim is the John Mills Turner Distinguished Chair in the Humanities and an associate professor of history at Lynchburg College. 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.

Crim applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Our Germans: Project Paperclip and the National Security State, and reported the following:
Our Germans: Project Paperclip and the National Security State is the story of how hundreds of Nazi Germany’s leading scientists and engineers became integral members of America’s burgeoning military-industrial complex during the Cold War. Shortly after the Soviet Union shocked the world by launching Sputnik in October 1957, comedian Bob Hope urged the country to take the apparent defeat in stride. “It just proves one thing,” Hope quipped. “Their German rocket scientists were better than our German rocket scientists.” My book first investigates the diverse backgrounds of many prominent “Paperclippers” and those whose names we may not know and determines that before members of Wernher von Braun’s rocket team became “our Germans” they were, according to US Army intelligence screening reports, “unrepentant Nazis.”

The first sentence on page 99 addresses the section of the book devoted to the bureaucratic and public opposition to Project Paperclip: “Those in the State Department opposed to an unrestricted Paperclip were motivated in part by a healthy suspicion of the German scientists, but most acted primarily to shield the department from assuming the risks inherent in Paperclip while receiving none of the benefits.” I believe the most original contribution in Our Germans is delineating the motivations and fates of those who opposed this controversial intelligence program. Many officials who devoted their lives to fighting Nazism were now asked to facilitate their immigration with minimal, and often nonexistent vetting while hundreds of thousands of displaced persons languished in camps (many of them former concentration camps) in central Europe. Yet, despite their personal objections, State Department officials relented under the weight of military pressure. Still, men like Samuel Klaus, a State Department lawyer who is featured prominently in this chapter, was dragged through the mud during the McCarthy era simply because he questioned the logic of granting unvetted Nazis American citizenship. While most Americans prefer to remember Project Paperclip as a brilliant intelligence coup, Our Germans lays bare the internecine battles pitting conflicting views of national security and morality at the dawn of the Cold War.
Learn more about Our Germans at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Our Germans.

--Marshal Zeringue