Hello, Reddit! My name is Annie Jacobsen and I just wrote a book called Operation Paperclip. It’s about the decades-long, covert project that brought more than 1,600 German scientists and their families to the United States after World War II. Many of the people brought to the US as part of the program were Nazi scientists who had been accused of war crimes; some had stood trial at Nuremberg. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medicine, and the space program.

I am also the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base .

Looking forward to your questions. AMA!

EDIT: Proof! https://twitter.com/AnnieJacobsen/status/434395270311198720

EDIT2: Proofx2! https://twitter.com/littlebrown/status/434395640509239296

EDIT3: Time for me to sign off. Thanks for everyone who joined me in my first Reddit AMA!

Comments: 214 • Responses: 23  • Date: 

aclockworkgreen1464 karma

How can we take the information in your new book seriously, when you make outrageous claims about Area 51 and Syrian musicians testing terror attacks? In your last book you claimed that the Roswell incident was a Soviet built circular craft that contained children surgically-altered by former Nazi's. You said post crash it was then moved to Area 51 for storage. People like Eva Mozes Kor, survivor of childhood Nazi experiments, do not appreciate you linking the worst moments of their life with bullshit UFO stories. Furthermore you did not ask any of the former Area 51 pilots and workers to verify this and you have sullied their reputation. Then before that you claimed Syrian musicians were practicing bomb making on Northwest flight 327. This was later proven to be a figment of your wild imagination. How is one expected to believe you have any journalistic integrity left at this point?

AnnieJacobsen-40 karma

Thank you for joining my Reddit AMA. In all of my books, I seek out interviews with significant players in the various once-classified operations. My source in AREA 51 to whom you refer stands by his account, as do I. For OPERATION PAPERCLIP I interviewed children of high-ranking Nazis, a number of whom had never given an interview before. I hope enjoy reading OPERATION PAPERCLIP. Thank you for your interest in my work.

poppedroot30 karma

Did you hear the Nazi-Soviet flying saucer story from multiple sources?

AnnieJacobsen-34 karma


aclockworkgreen18 karma

Wow, this is just like a Woody Harrelson AmA.

AnnieJacobsen24 karma

He looks better in a hat than I do.

333GBKH29 karma

I am in my 50's now, but as a young child, I was used in the Project Paperclip MKULTRA torture programs. They created alters (DID/ MPD) in the program. My grandfather had "volunteered" me for this program when he worked for the Federal Government at the Bureau of Narcotics as a supervisory special agent.

It took many years to get over the torture in therapy.

I spent many years fighting for justice in the U.S. both through the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. Failed in all of my attempts for justice.

I had hoped to pass my story on before I die, just so that others will know what the U.S. govt did to its own citizens in the name of cold war intelligence. When they were not doing experiments on us, they were having sex with us as an extra bonus.

Do you talk about kids like me in this book? Do you think I will ever find justice?

Thanks for writing this book.

AnnieJacobsen-67 karma

Thanks for writing. It's important for each of us to search for the truth.

Skajadeh14 karma

Hi Annie, I have really been looking forward to your AMA. In your previous book Area 51, you alluded to surgical manipulation of child pilots in the Soviet Union to make them look like aliens. Do you cover more of that topic in your new book? Thank you for your time.

AnnieJacobsen-23 karma

Thanks for your interesting question. That subject, for now, remains exclusive to AREA 51. As a journalist, I adhere to the idea that more gets revealed. If not in this book, perhaps the next....In the meantime, there is great and tragic drama in OPERATION PAPERCLIP regarding other Nazi doctors who worked at concentration camps and later worked for the USAF in Texas.

Skajadeh-6 karma

Thank you for the reply! I picked up your book yesterday and can't wait to finish it!

AnnieJacobsen-8 karma

It's long! Read fast.

thewaybaseballgo13 karma

Say in theory, I wanted to find out more information about surgically altered children made by Nazi scientists to test out Soviet era spacecrafts. Where would I buy the best pot so that I actually believe that something like that is real?

AnnieJacobsen-7 karma

There's a great burger joint in Area 12.


What's the most surprising thing you've learned in any of your research?

AnnieJacobsen-46 karma

The more I learn, the more I see there is more to learn.

Wazok9 karma

What were these scientists looking for and hoping to achieve? Any continuation from Mengele to these?

AnnieJacobsen35 karma

I think the scientists were hoping not to go to prison. And to continue their work. From the USG they got both wishes, plus American citizenship and a shot at the American dream. I did not learn more about Mengele, but I did learn that he was far from the only madman physician working under the Third Reich. The Nazis produced thousands of morally compromised physicians. At the Nuremberg Doctors' Trial, one of the chief prosecutors pointed out that in his opinion 90% of all physicians working in Germany under the Reich were culpable.

Scientologist2a8 karma

How do you distinguish between the junk conspiratorial thinking so popular in this area and the actual truth of what was being researched in Area 51, etc.?

AnnieJacobsen-9 karma

Choose your sources wisely.

jabroni_joints7 karma

Hey Annie, wheres the best burger joint at??

AnnieJacobsen-9 karma

Humm...there's a Fatburger in Area 12 that I hear is good.

TheBananaPhony7 karma

I've always been curious as to whether or not there were any major conflicts between some of the German scientists against the members of the US military who had been fighting against them only a short time before. Did your research uncover any such incidents?

Also, I know it's definitely a "find out in the book" type question, but do you feel the moral cost of absolving such men was worth the scientific advancements we received in return?

Thanks for the answers, and welcome to Reddit!

AnnieJacobsen6 karma

Great question. The Nazi were the vanquished, so my read is that as scientists in Operation Paperclip, they were hardly in a position to have a beef or conflict with their new employer.

As for your second question, I think hiring the Nazis was a mere short-cut, and a great moral compromise. Thanks!

s_mw7 karma

Those people were smart and we wanted them on our side for rocket building!

A lot of them weren't a part of the genocide directly. They were just scientists who made the stuff. Do you blame them as much as the ones who actually did the killing?

AnnieJacobsen22 karma

Great point. There were more than 1600 German scientists who came to America as part of the program. I focus on the narratives of about 20 of them, the great majority of whom were hardcore Nazi ideologues. Wernher Von Braun, however, was not just, as you say, a scientist who made stuff. He was well aware that slave laborers building his rockets were culled from concentration camps, and that more than 10,000 of those workers were worked to death. Documents also show that von Braun himself went to the Buchenwald concentration camp to pick slaves, as he wrote in a memo. Looking at each case is key, I think, to making a judgement for oneself. NASA helped him whitewash his past.

s_mw2 karma

Thanks for the response! What percent of scientists were hardcore Nazi ideologues overall? When I said made the stuff I meant they made things that aided in the whole thing. How many knew on average what was going on?

I agree on the helping to whitewash his past. All of those guys got citizenship immediately.

AnnieJacobsen13 karma

It's impossible to say exactly how many of the 1600 were Nazi ideologues, but after all my research and reporting I'd say it's safe to say that to have worked in weapons research for the Reich, in any capacity above janitor, you had to have been a Nazi party supporter. They were not ones to tolerate dissent, as we know.

thethirstisreal1927 karma

If you know of any in specific, what sorts of germs, diseases did the some of the scientists develop both during WW2 and upon coming to America? What were the processes behind making said germs and diseases? Lastly, do you think there is any correlation between them and things such as Borrelia burgderfori (the bacterium that causes lyme disease)? Sorry for asking so much. I do hope you'll respond though. Thanks!

edit: onoes, downvotes, my life is ruined. Ha.

AnnieJacobsen9 karma

Eric Traub, formerly chief vet with the Reich's State Research Institute, worked on lethal strains of rinderpest virus as well as tularemia, also called rabbit fever. I imagine he continued this research for the USG; it remains classified. Traub was affiliated with Plum Island -- an island off CT near Lyme, so much speculation has gone into his possible involvement with lyme disease. Also classified! Interesting question, thank you.

luckyvb6 karma

What in your opinion was the most significant research aqcuired through the recruitment of nazi scientists?

AnnieJacobsen6 karma

Theodor Benzinger gave us the ear thermometer. If that counts. Certainly Hitler's rocket scientists helped us get the moon. But was it worth it? Could we have gotten there with American scientists? I think yes.

scots2 karma

Annie, I believe the constant threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War created an environment within the us government and its intelligence agencies where "the ends justify the means" became easy to swallow.

That attitude allowed us to use Operation Paperclip to benefit from nazi experiments that came at horrible human cost, and created a culture within our military and intelligence agencies that exists to this day - a culture of "constitution be damned, above the law, laugh off congress or court rulings."

From gulf war 1 syndrome (uranium exposure?) to Area 51 workers attempting to sue for health care after being forced to burn benzine and other horrible carcinogenic chemicals in open pits, to Edward snowden exposing the NSAs absolute desecration of us law and constitution - these aren't conspiracy theories or whacko UFO fish stories, but actual headlines that shake our faith in the government.

Does anything surprise you anymore? And what degree of truth do you feel exists behind the more fringe claims (eg Roswell, ufos, Kennedy assassination, etc. )

Thanks. !

AnnieJacobsen-1 karma

A great series of questions. I write books about controversial topics that almost certainly involve conspiracy theories. I think the real bonus in being able to write long narrative non-fiction is including 100+ pages of notes and sources. People can then use my research to continue with their own.

MerchGwyar2 karma

My apologies, I've not encountered any of your books yet. I've just had a quick look at the summaries to bring myself up to date.

It looks like contentious stuff. What outcome were you looking to achieve as you wrote them? Is it simply journalistic inquiry, or are you raising awareness with a view to another result?

AnnieJacobsen1 karma

As a journalist, I write about war, weapons, US national security and secret intelligence programs. What Eisenhower spoke of when he referenced the military industrial complex -- that American citizens should be aware of its inherent dangers -- is the central organizing theme of my books. I can't think of a more intriguing subject for someone like me.

lonewolfandpub2 karma

Definitely going to check this book out - heard your interview on NPR on the way back from work.

I'm sure you answer this in your book, but do you feel the net benefits to American society and the military at large are outweighed by the negatives of recruiting said Nazi-affiliated scientists, a sizeable number of whom were unrepentant for their actions?

AnnieJacobsen13 karma

I think that hiring Nazis was a moral compromise. A short-cut. With that said, there were a number of generals at the Pentagon who disliked the idea but felt it was the lesser of two evils -- that if we didn't get them the Soviets would. What surprised me most in my research was learning that others, like Brigadier General Charles E. Loucks of the Army Chemical Corp actually grew fond of some of Hitler's top chemists including a member of Himmler's staff, Dr. Walter Schieber. In one archive, I located Christmas cards the two men exchanged for years...

dick_wool0 karma

Do you think the NSA is a necessary evil in the same way that bringing Nazis to the US was during WWII?

AnnieJacobsen5 karma

This is the question of the year. The idea of greed comes to mind. Wanting more than you need. Metadata is too much data, we don't have enough people to interpret what is important. There was a similar, voracious desire for knowledge after the war. My read is that the USG wanted all of it.

Eternal_Atom-1 karma

Shame there aren't enough comments here. I wish I had something incredibly intelligent to ask, however I a not fully informed on Op paperclip so I cant exactly ask anything worthwhile.

However I do have to ask this, Do you find it hard to convey almost taboo topics like this to others? are you ostracized by other journalists for going into something like this instead of celebrity gossip? From your experience are the general public willing to read something controversial like this and change their mind because of it?

AnnieJacobsen-10 karma

I find that people are really interested in U.S. national security programs. The news does one part of the job, reporting stories that people want to read. Books pick up the thread by giving the readers the long version of the story.

Batma7n-2 karma

What do you think about freemasons, Illuminati, and the New World Order?

AnnieJacobsen-12 karma

Someone should write a book.