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Operation Paperclip: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Let Nazis Take Me To The Moon And Back

A man with light-tone skin and a receding hairline holds a pair of glasses in this black and white photo
Theodore von Karman, the first director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Courtesy M.G. Lord)
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In this episode of LA Made: Blood Sweat & Rockets, we inspect government subterfuge when the United States enacts a top secret operation to expand its rocket research after the fall of Nazi Germany.

What to expect in this episode

At the end of World War II, Allies are snatching up spoils of war from conquered Germany. The United States has its sights set on absorbing the Nazi V-2 missile program, thanks to the wartime research of German facilities by JPL scientists Theodore von Karman and Tsien Hsue-Shen.

Prominent rocket scientist and former SS officer Wernher von Braun, along with hundreds of German scientists, are smuggled into the states under the auspices of preventing classified intelligence from falling into Russian hands. But anti-Nazi U.S. will have to turn a blind eye to the unsavory political allegiances of its new guests.

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Listen: Blood, Sweat & Rockets: Operation Paperclip

Why you should listen

Tune in to hear host M.G. Lord unpack how the U.S. government’s operation to gain post-war intelligence morphed into a long term cover up that almost rewrote the history of rocket science.

The road to space is paved with contradictions

The U.S. is willing to exile its own homegrown rocket program at JPL in exchange for ex-Nazi scientists — a decision that ultimately leads to the moon landing, thus proving that two wrongs do make one flawed history.

That sounds great! How do I find the podcast?

It's available now from LAist Studios. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts! Or listen to the this in the player above.

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