This is a great piece — thanks to recently declassified secret documents — about how the UK snagged Nazi scientists to work for the British government, and it finishes with a small selection of the private companies many of them wound up working for (like Yardley’s — as in, Pears Soap. Creeped out much?). So, where did the rest of the scientists go? Hmmm. Snip:
Their methods had echoes of the Gestapo: kidnapping at night by state officials who offered no evidence of identity. Recently declassified secret documents reveal how at the end of the second world war an elite British unit abducted hundreds of German scientists and technicians and put them to work at government ministries and private firms in the UK.
The programme was designed to loot the defeated country’s intellectual assets, impeding its ability to compete while giving a boost to British business.
In a related programme, German businessmen are alleged to have been forced to travel to post-war Britain to be questioned by their commercial rivals, and were interned if they refused to reveal trade secrets.
The economic warfare programmes are detailed in batches of Foreign Office files, marked “Top Secret”, many of which lay unseen at the National Archives at Kew until discovered by the Guardian.
The files detail the way in which the scramble to uncover the Nazis’ military secrets during the dying days of the conflict in Europe, to assist the continuing war effort in the Far East, turned rapidly to an early cold war campaign to prevent Germany’s scientific and industrial assets falling into Soviet hands. This, in turn, offered the British government an opportunity to exploit the scientific and technical know-how of the defeated nation, with scientists being regarded as a form of human booty who could help give the UK an economic and commercial edge
While it has long been known that German scientists and technicians worked in the US and Britain after the war, it has generally been assumed they were all volunteers, lured by the promise of good pay and accommodation. However, the declassified papers make clear that for more than two years after the cessation of hostilities the British authorities were subjecting them to a programme of “enforced evacuation”.
Link. (image of Krupp munitions factory in Essen via article)