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Operation paperclip: how many scientists were brought over?


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I originally planned to post this in the thread for questions that don’t merit their own thread however after typing this all up in it’s entirety I felt it was a little long. Now to the question:

How many german scientists were brought to the United States under operation paperclip? I tried to find the exact number however the numbers I found vary.

 Wikipedia says there were more than 1,600. On one page, History.com claims that ~1,600 were brought over. On another, they say “as part of "Operation Paperclip," the United States ships 88 German scientists to America...”. The difference may be between a smaller group of scientists and the rest that were brought over at different times. Smithsonian Magazine states “...the U.S. government hatched a plan to bring 88 pedant scientists...”. Time.com claims ~120 were brought to the United States.

Finally I searched for “NASA operation paperclip” which yielded this page from nasa.gov saying “...bring to the United States about one hundred twenty of the German experts...”. I guess the answer is ~120 as NASA is the most authoritative source out of all of them.

Honestly I’m more intrigued by the variety.  While the three claims at ~88 and ~120 were fairly close to each other, history.com’s 1,600 figure is puzzlingly large.

How can I vet sources properly when there is such a conflict between the Smithsonian and NASA?
If I were writing a research paper I feel that it would be unethical to not mention both. Could that be just done as saying “NASA.gov states that ~120 were brought over however the Smithsonian claims that only ~88 were brought over” in more formal language?

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i wonder if the 1600 figure includes support personnel, assistants and technicians for example, but not quite falling under the umbrella term "scientist". there might also be some discrepencies for scientists in fields other than rocketry (for example nuclear or jet aircraft). 

Edited by Nuke
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Yes, +1600 is over time and including family and support people and as Nuke says probably other disciplines. Not only jets and nuclear but also submarines and tanks. 
Guess it was an offer you seriously did not want to refuse. 

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they certainly didn't want to spend the post war years in a siberian gulag, or worse if such a thing exists. 

Edited by Nuke
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2 hours ago, Nuke said:

they certainly didn't want to spend the post war years in a siberian gulag, or worse if such a thing exists. 

Well, my understanding is that the German scientists and technicians that didn't go to the US in Paperclip and instead went to the USSR were put to work, much like their US-bound counterparts.. Although I believe I've read that the Soviet space program relied on their German imports to a much less degree than did the US program.

 

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They were working in the European part of the USSR (i.e. the heartland, together with others), together with families, in the towns where the bureaus were placed, till early 1950s when they were dismissed and returned to home.

Edited by kerbiloid
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I presume that going over to "the other side" means a non-zero chance of either killed off in the initial frenzy, or shipped off to a gulag or some other sort of punitive measures later (or earlier temporarily).

The Americans on the other hand, given that they've worked (and were working) with other german researchers that crossed sides before the war gets too hot, is probably more open to the idea of accepting their help and ignoring the past alliances and alignments.

 

Wikipedia itself lists at least 169 names in the Operation Paperclip page as "Key Recruits", so it can be assumed that the 120 or 88 figures are the head figures whereas the 1600 figures include technicians and assistants. There are mentions that with the families included this number rises to two times the 1600 figure.

 

Wonder how much did came in during Paperclip vs. how much came in before the war was a thing (or during the height of the war in 1941-1943).

Edited by YNM
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15 hours ago, Nuke said:

they certainly didn't want to spend the post war years in a siberian gulag, or worse if such a thing exists. 

As mentioned, they worked alongside their Soviet counterparts.  Granted, when the war ended, Korolev and Glushko were in the GULAG.   But I suspect that they were before they joined the German scientists.  Oddly enough,  in Rockets and People, Chertok mentions that they had more food in the GULAG than his family had in Moscow.

Chertok was specifically tasked with grabbing all the German rocket people and tech he could, and specifically writes that they were especially happy to bring the test stands and jigs home.

And "worse"?  In 1945 that was all too easy.

https://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/rockets_people_vol1_detail.html

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1 hour ago, wumpus said:

As mentioned, they worked alongside their Soviet counterparts.  Granted, when the war ended, Korolev and Glushko were in the GULAG.   But I suspect that they were before they joined the German scientists.  Oddly enough,  in Rockets and People, Chertok mentions that they had more food in the GULAG than his family had in Moscow.

Chertok was specifically tasked with grabbing all the German rocket people and tech he could, and specifically writes that they were especially happy to bring the test stands and jigs home.

And "worse"?  In 1945 that was all too easy.

https://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/rockets_people_vol1_detail.html

but they didnt know that at the time.  and being exposed to constant german propaganda they were likely more afraid of the soviets than the brittish and american forces. 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmut_Gröttrup

Upd.
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=ru&sl=ru&tl=en&u=https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_Jumo_004#Прототип_советского_реактивного_моторостроения

 

Quote

As a result, the Junkers factories from the cities of Dessau and Bernburg, together with 1000 German plants, were almost completely removed to the Administrative town near Kuibyshev (today Samara) at plant No. 2 of the Ministry of Aviation Industry of the USSR (today Motorostroitel OJSC ). and Austrian aviation specialists. Under the leadership of Nikolai Dmitrievich Kuznetsov, German specialists organized in the winter of 1946-1947 the release of a Soviet copy of Jumo-004 called RD-10 . At the plant number 16 in Kazan, turbojet engines of the company "BMW" BMW-003 under the name RD-20 and BMW-003C under the name RD-21 were produced .


https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=ru&sl=ru&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fru.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FНК-12&sandbox=1
 

Quote

In 1946, in the village of Upravlenchesky , located on the banks of the Volga , 30 km from Kuibyshev , an experimental plant number 2 was organized. On its basis, two design bureaus were formed: OKB-1 (chief designer A. Shaibe), and OKB-2 (chief designer K. Prestel), the number of employees in 1947 was about 2500 people, of which 662 were Germans [4] . When organizing the plant, it was assumed that in the USSR the Germans would continue the work they had begun in Germany - the creation of forced samples of the serial German turbojet engines Jumo-004 and BMW 003 and new powerful jet engines Jumo 012 and BMW 018 . However, at the end of 1946 a new challenge arose: the development of turboprop engines.

 

Edited by kerbiloid
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On the impact of German scientists on the space programs of both powers, I advise Matthew Brzezinski's book, Red Moon Rising.
On the other hand, does anyone know the 1968 film called Ice Station Zebra?
Patrick McGoohan's character gives a brilliant chair of the German space technological developments on which everyone depends, to an astonished Rock Hudson.
Highly recommended. 

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3 hours ago, Nuke said:

being exposed to constant german propaganda they were likely more afraid of the soviets than the brittish and american forces. 

Well it's not really the internal propaganda IMO. Pretty sure there were letters from the west as well and stuff. Plus by 1944 the news from the retreating troops from the east would've circulated around, and as we knew what happened to the area there it's not exactly great.

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