Right after World War II, the U.S. government brought over nearly 1,500 Germans—many who had experimented on Jews and supported the Holocaust—to American soil, giving them new identities, and letting them live freely among citizens in secret.

Those brought over during Operation Paperclip, as it was called, were scientists, doctor, chemists, technicians, and engineers, for the purpose of having them work for America rather than the Soviet Union. While President Harry Truman barred those who were active members of the Nazi Party from being recruited, the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency, which was in charge of the program, made false biographies for Nazi members and wiped them clean of their pasts. Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was one of the recruits, though he was a known member of the SS, and picked out groups in concentration camps to work for him as slaves.

Werner von Braun

Dr. Eugen Haagen, once wrote this letter on Nov. 15, 1943: “Of the 100 prisoners you sent me, 18 died in transport... Only 12 are in a condition suitable for my experiments. I therefore request that you send me another 100 prisoners, between 20 and 40 years of age, who are healthy and in a physical condition comparable to soldiers. Heil Hitler.”

Many of those former Nazis helped America in the coming years, have been honored as upstanding American citizens, with their pasts long forgotten.