Operation Paperclip


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After the end of WWII talented German and other European scientists were brought to the United States in "Project Paperclip".  The most famous of this group was Dr. Werner Von Braun and his rocket development team.   While the rocket scientists went to White Sands, the radar and communications engineers went to Fort Monmouth.  Below are accounts of the Fort Monmouth group; most of them worked at Camp Evans.

From ELECTRONS AWAY or Tales of a GOVERNMENT SCIENTIST Copyright 1968, by Harold A. Zahl Published by Vantage Press, Inc. NY, NY
Page 107....

On "Project Paperclip" it was not pieces of equipment or missiles which were brought over from Germany, it was people -- scientists, engineers, and families. In the cruel years immediately following the war there were many very able scientists and engineers who wished to leave Western Europe and make a new home in the United States.

"Screening" offices were accordingly set up in Europe, and applications studied very carefully as to ability and previous political interests.  Simultaneously military laboratories in this country were asked whether they wished any of these people, and their dossiers were made available for decision purposes.

As most elsewhere, at Monmouth we had two problems:

First, the war still remained very fresh in the memories of our people; and second, we were still, releasing relatively unskilled American citizens. But the superb talent, available through "Paperclip" suggested once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and much of the top American talent was straining to get out of the military environment back to their teaching jobs or to industry.  

Demonstrative of the type of talent we were dealing with, on each request the requester had to sign a statement to the effect that the equivalent to the person he was asking for was not available in the U.S.  The problem of asking for this type of talent, or rather the decision as to whether we should, was put squarely up to me as director of research.    I recommended  "Yes, let's try it with 25 people," and we were in business. This was probably one of the most important decisions I have ever made

The men and their families then started coming over, most of them with all their worldly possessions and hardly any money.   The title of "Doctor" soon grew common place at Monmouth.  In coming over; they were signed  two-year contract, with our option to returning them in six months if we for any reason found them unsatisfactory.  

After the contract expired, Civil Service regulations allowed them to change to what was called Schedule-A, a  form of Civil Service which would be finalized once citizenship had been achieved. I have in my office a photo of the first 16 which came over, hands up, swearing allegiance to the United States, as they move into Schedule-A.  Of these 16, now twenty years later, 11 still remain at the Monmouth laboratory, all in very high positions, and one in the very highest. 

It was a wonderful experience to see the old "Melting Pot" in action.  In retrospect, throughout the country we see thousands of our best citizens, able engineers, scientists, and administrators, with a byproduct of tens of thousands of brilliant children in our schools . . .  the results of "Paperclip."

Surely this country is better and stronger because of that decision, made by a few men more than two decades ago.

From PROJECT PAPERCLIP, German Scientists and the Cold War Copyright 1971, by Clarence G. Lasby Published by Atheneum, NY, NY Page 251-252...

The Department of the Army imported 210 Paperclip specialists, of whom 29 returned to Europe prior to immigration.  The Ordnance Department utilized 132 at Fort Bliss, Texas, the Signal Corps 24 at its engineering laboratories in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; and the Corps of Engineers, Chemical Corps, Quartermaster General, and Medical Department fewer than 10 each at their various installations.  

The 24 Signal Corps specialists -- including physicists Drs. Georg Goubau, Gunter Guttwein, Georg Hass, Horst Kedesdy, and Kurt Levovec; physical chemists Professor Rudolf Brill and Drs. Ernst Baars and Eberhard Both; geophysicist Dr. Helmut Weickmann; technical optician Dr. Gerhard Schwesinger; and electronics engineers Drs. Eduard Gerber, Richard Guenther and Hans Ziegler -- were of the more exceptional caliber than any single group imported under Paperclip.   They were selected after a survey of thousands of experts in communications, and were outstanding in the realms of equipment design and development and pure science. 

As early as 1948 the chief signal officer reported some of their accomplishments.  Three of them -- with knowledge unequaled anywhere in the country -- had developed a special shutter and a camera which, when ejected from a V-2, oriented itself in seven seconds.  General Electric had rejected a contract to design the camera platform alone, indicating that if time and personnel were available they could complete it for $750,000.  Professor Brill had advanced fundamental knowledge in solid-state chemistry and physics by eighteen months.  Dr. Ziegler had saved approximately $300,000 through his work on permanent magnet generators.  Dr. Goubou's research on microwave techniques had saved at least two years.  Had his investigations been made by commercial contract -- and none could be found with sufficiently diversified knowledge -- the government would have had to expend two to three million dollars. 

By the 1960's, the Signal Corps members had attained high positions at Fort Monmouth; Dr. Ziegler had become chief scientist, three had become division chiefs, and three others branch chiefs.

    web editor note:  I contacted the author to secure a copy of the July 1960 letter from Dr. Harold Zahl to the author.  This letter described the accomplishments of the Fort Monmouth Paperclip specialists.  Not all the Project Paperclip persons were scientists, some were engineers and some were not German.  For example Dr. Kurt Levovec is not German, his origin is Czech.  Sadly, the author had disposed of his files, after offering them to various archives and libraries. 

From Magicians of Monmouth, Saturday evening post Aug. 23, 1952  pg 34

Waves beaming thirty channels...

Monmouth is one of several military research center utilizing services of German scientists brought to the United States as part of the Defense Department’s so-called Operation Paper Clip.  Research Director Zahl said he is well pleased with the work done by the twenty-five Germans assigned to SCEL.  One of the Paper Clip contingent -- Dr. Georg Goubau, formerly of the University of Jena -- has perfected a new method of beaming waves through the air via a single transmission line that is believed capable of carrying at least thirty channels.

Implications of the device, which is still being tested, is that the single line may provide a comparatively inexpensive way to cross-country television transmission, in contrast to costly coaxial cables.  Doctor Goubau’s American colleagues promptly christened his discovery the “G-String.”  “The doc,” one co-worker reminisced, “couldn’t understand why this seemed to amuse us, until we explained to him this particular aspect of American culture.”


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