John Gimbel - Science, technology, and reparations


Gimbel John Science technology and reparations.jpg

John Gimbel - Science, technology, and reparations
Exploitation and plunder in postwar Germany

Most people know something about Werner von Braun and the German rocket scientists and engineers whom the Americans brought to the United States after the Second World War.
What virtually no one seems to know is that the plan under which they were brought - Project Paperclip - was but one aspect of a much more comprehensive and systematic program of 'intellectual reparations'. This program began in late 1944 with the limited aim of exploiting German scientific and technical know-how in order to shorten the war with Japan. As Allied armies swept across Western Germany, teams of dozens of American experts - drawn from government agencies, industrial and trade associations, and the universities - visited hundreds of targeted german research institutions, technical schools, and industrial firms.
They interviewed personnel, examined processes and products, took photographs and samples, and demanded drawings, plans, blueprints, research reports, and documents of all kinds. But the limited, war-related aims they began with quickly yielded to the tempting opportunities for industrial and tempting opportunities for industrial and technological plunder in virtually every area of German expertise, including wind tunnels, tape recorders, synthetic fuels and rubber, color film, textiles, machine tools, heavy equipment, ceramics, optical glass, dyes, and electron microscopes. Ostensibly, the information gathered was to be made, in Secretary of State George C. Marshall's words, 'available to the rest of the world'.
In practice, however, much of it was transferred by the scientific consultants and document-screeners directly to their own firms and for their own purposes.

This story has never before been told, and the author's meticulous but highly readable account is based on over ten years of research in German and American public and private archives, many of them previously unused. One of the most striking revelations in the book is the vast scale of the 'intellectual reparations' program. At the Moscow meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in 1947, V. M. M olotov, the Soviet Union's Minister of Foreign Affairs, charged that the United States and Great Britain had taken over c10 billion in reparations from germany in the form of patents and other technical knowledge. Secretary of State marshall angrily denied the charge, but no precise evaluation was ever issued by the US government.
On the basis of his research, the author concludes that the $10 billion figure dismissed by State Department functionaries as 'fantastic' is probably not far from the mark. General Lucius D. Clay, the American Military Government, eventually succeeded in having the program shut down in the interests of German economic recovery, but he failed in his efforts to have an evaluation made in monetary terms to establish a credit to Germany's reparations account. Nevertheless, the popular American belief that the United States took no reparations from Germany needs to be drastically modified.
The exploitation program had a negative effect on the early resumption of postwar German research and economic recovery. I n the long run, however, the American exploitation program furthered an extensive network of American-German scientific, business, and industrial collaboration, and it contributed to the American climate of opinion that insured West germany's participation in the Marshall Plan. Throughout the book, the author has used case studies to illustrate the program - its nature, extent, and impact upon the Germans and Americans.

Second World War - PDF

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