The military undertaking Project Paperclip brought hundreds of German and Austrian scientists, engineers, and technicians to the United States after World War II to work on military projects. Most of the specialists came between 1945 and 1952 as enemy aliens, but soon the State, War, and Justice Departments worked out a process that would allow them to become American citizens.
The involved agencies went to extraordinary lengths to pave a way for former enemies to become U.S. citizens in the name of “national security” for military uses or “national interest” for civilian exploitation, putting them ahead of displaced persons barely surviving in Europe. The additional involvement of the Commerce Department from the beginning signals the important role that employers would play in future immigration debates and programs.
Typically, only discussed in the context of military history or as the operation that brought Wernher von Braun and his rocket team to the United States, this presentation discusses Project Paperclip as an important step in the development of immigration policies that offer preferential treatment for the highly skilled ever since.
See more of: National History Center of the American Historical Association
See more of: Affiliated Society Sessions