Stealing Credit

Another lucrative plunder was scientific. At the end of World War II, Allied scientific intelligence experts accompanied the invading forces into Germany to plunder as much equipment and expertise as possible from the rubble, and they were delighted and shocked at the advanced German technical achievements they found. In May 1945, while the Red Army grabbed the atomic research labs near Berlin, the US forces removed V-2 missiles from Nordhausen, and in the process captured Wernher von Braun’s team which had built the V-2, before handing the town over to the Soviets as agreed to.

This photo has been and still is erroneously described in various National Archives and elsewhere as “Photograph taken on 12 April 1945 showing the last victims of the Nordhausen Nazi concentration camp, a sub-camp of the Mittelbau Dora concentration camp complex.” This photo actually shows prisoners of the Nordhausen lager who were casualties of Allied bombings.

On August 24, 1944, 11 B-17 Flying Fortresses of Mission 568 bombed Nordhausen as a “target of opportunity.” The British repeatedly struck the 1,000 year-old town of Nordhausen, murdering around 8,800 civilians. by the time of an attack on April 3 and 4, 1945, three-quarters of the town was destroyed. The Mittelbau-Dora work camp which was located on the outskirts of town to provide labor for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein was bombed purportedly because its hangers and cenemt structures were “mistaken for a German munitions depot” by the US. This bombing killed thousands of inmates which were later erroneously reported as being killed by Germans. The US Army rounded up local 400 German civilians living in the area at gunpoint and forced them to “evacuate” the corpses. 20% of Nordhausen’s civilian population was killed by Allied bombing before the US Army gave it to the communists.

On July 18, 1945, the Soviet administration created the Institute Rabe to develop Soviet rocket technology on the basis of the substantially more sophisticated V-2 rockets. In May, 1946 the Institute merged with the new Institute Nordhausen, under an expanded research program which included a new Institute Berlin. On October 22, 1946, under Operation Osoaviakhim, 10,000 to 15,000 German scientists, engineers and their families were deported to the Soviet Union, including around 300 from Nordhausen (others were snatched by the US, below), along with their equipment, and many remained there under slavery until the early 1950s.

In August 1945, “Project Paperclip” was authorized by US President Truman, and it directed an operation where 700 captured German scientists were sneaked out of Germany for use in the US. The Project was only one part of a vast, organized system of plunder under the umbrella of ‘intellectual reparations.’ At war’s end, dozens of teams of American experts from industry, trade, government and universities visited hundreds of targeted German institutions and demanded all drawings, plans, blueprints, research reports and documents. The goal was supposed to be finding and exploiting German scientific and technical knowledge in order to shorten the war with Japan. That accomplished, they got greedy and began a wide scale technological plundering of virtually every area of German expertise: synthetic fuels and rubber, wind tunnels, tape recorders, color film, machine tools, heavy equipment, ceramics, optical glass, dyes, and electron microscopes to, in the noble rhetoric of Secretary of State George C. Marshall: ‘make it available to the rest of the world.’ In reality, most of it was only made available to the American government and private interests and the material was transferred directly from the teams into their own firms for their own purposes, probably to the tune of at least $10 billion dollars worth (in that time’s standard). Not only was this astronomical amount never credited to Germany’s reparations account, the recipients of the loot immediately took credit for the advanced German technological material and inventions!

One of the harshest “de-Nazification” laws was Military Government Law No. 8 which prohibited any former Nazi party member (which applied to millions of intelligent, educated German professionals) to work at any vocation except common laborer. “Ex-Nazis” who owned businesses usually were forced to surrender their businesses to military authorities, and thousands of such businesses were seized by the military in late 1945 and 1946 and their inventories were seized.