Between 1945 and the 1960s, the United States government brought more than 1,500 German scientists and engineers into the country through Project Paperclip to work on guided missiles, jet and rocket engines, aerodynamics, aerospace medicine, and submarine technology. The U.S. hoped these specialists could give them an advantage at the end of WWII and into the Cold War. Over time, many of the Germans disappeared into American military, industrial, and academic positions. However, one of them, Wernher von Braun, became prominent through his involvement in the Space Race.

The discussion explores Project Paperclip with Dr. Michael Neufeld, Senior Curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and author of Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War, and Eric Lichtblau, author of The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men. The conversation was moderated by Linda Dawson, author of The Politics and Perils of Space Exploration.

Michael J. Neufeld is a Senior Curator in the Space History Department of the National Air and Space Museum, where he is responsible for the early rocket collection and for Mercury and Gemini spacecraft. He has written or edited nine books, notably The Rocket and the Reich, Von Braun, and Spaceflight: A Concise History. In 2017, Secretary David Skorton gave him the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar Award, the highest research award of the Institution.
Eric Lichtblau is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author of The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men; as well as Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice; and Return to the Reich: A Holocaust Refugee’s Secret Mission to Defeat the Nazis. He is currently working on a book on the alarming surge in hate crimes and white supremacy, which will be published by Little, Brown and Company next year. He was a Washington reporter for the New York Times for fifteen years, reporting mainly on national security and law enforcement issues, and for the Los Angeles Times for fifteen years before that.
Linda Dawson is most recently a space historian, author of The Politics and Perils of Space Exploration and War in Space, currently writing her latest book focused on a personal perspective of women in air and space. She is an MIT graduate of Aeronautics and  Astronautics, having worked as a Flight Controller for the Space Shuttle Program in NASA’s Mission Control. She is retired from the University of Washington as Senior Lecturer Emeritus.

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