In the second part of his investigation, Hank Albarelli peels off another layer of the ongoing Operation Paperclip cover up and unveils one of its darker legacies. Working with Paperclip Nazi scientists and building on the results of their often deadly research, the CIA tested LSD psychoactive drugs on almost 7,000 unwitting U.S. citizens over a 20-year period. Those LSD experiments, and Paperclip itself, were among the first manifestations of what became a guiding principle of the Cold War right to the present day, that the ends justify the means.
Dr. Herbert Bruno Gerstner was not the only former Nazi researcher to be brought to Texas by Project Paperclip. When Gerstner arrived, there were already a dozen Nazi aeromedical scientists working at the Air Force’s School of Aviation Medicine (SAM) at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. Among this initial group was one physician who would eventually become widely known and controversial. This was Dr. Hubertus Strughold, today unabashedly considered the “Father of American Space Medicine.” Suspicions loom large today that Strughold’s past wartime involvement in human experiments was overlooked and covered-up by Paperclip officials so that his expertise could be exploited by America’s then burgeoning aerospace program.
When Strughold died in 1986, years after retiring from an illustrious 18-year career with the U.S. government, the Justice Department had only just come around to investigating his wartime activities, an inquiry that eventually went nowhere. Additionally, readers who think Strughold had no links to the CIA should think again. Military and aerospace activities at SAM in the 1950s, and beyond, very much involved the CIA as is well documented in recent years by numerous declassified documents and reports concerning the ultra-secret U-2 spy aircraft program, Projects Idealist and Aquatone, and other espionage activities centered in Texas.
- Dr. Hubertus Strughold, the "Father of American Space Medicine", was a former Nazi scientist who was linked to experiments on prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
Strughold consistently argued that he knew nothing about Nazi human experiments until after the war ended. “I was against Hitler and his beliefs”, Strughold told one reporter in the 1968. He claimed, “I sometimes had to hide myself because my life was in danger from the Nazis”, but this defense appears trumped-up in light of evidence uncovered by American historian and investigative journalist Linda Hunt. Hunt— whose life was threatened a number of times during her ten-year investigation of Project Paperclip, and who was shot at by an unknown assailant on one occasion— discovered that on October 26 and 27, 1942, Strughold attended a Nazi scientific conference in Nuremberg to discuss “Medical Problems Arising from Distress at Sea and Winter Hardships.”
At the conference, a Nazi researcher, identified as Professor Holzloehner, presented his findings through experiments he conducted on Dachau concentration camp inmates “who were frozen to death in vats of ice water in the camp yard during winter.” According to Holzloehner’s presentation, the human subjects suffered excruciating pain before they died from having various body parts frozen. Linda Hunt also discovered at least five other Paperclip scientists who worked at SAM who knew about the Dachau experiments through their participation at the same 1942 conference. These were Drs. Walter Schreiber, Hans Clamann, Ulrich Luft, Konrad Buettner, and Richard Landenberg.
This author (Albarelli) found Dr. Konrad J.K. Buettner’s work for the U.S. government at SAM particularly intriguing. Buettner was brought to the U.S. in 1947 by Project Paperclip to work with the Air Force’s SAM program in Texas. According to Air Force files, Buettner conducted extensive research on the “effects of extreme heat on humans.”
In April 1952, Buettner made minor headlines in the United States when he announced the findings of a study he conducted for the UCLA engineering department. The main finding being: “[That] Negroes would be in special danger of heat from an atomic explosion” due to their “heavily-pigmented skin.” Buettner worked closely for at least two years with former Nazi Storm Trooper and Nazi Party member Dr. Heinrich Rose. In 1952, in the Nevada desert, Buettner and Rose found that following an atomic blast selected observing service men serving as guinea pigs suffered severe eye damage, including blindness, but the two scientists urged further experiments of the same sort. [See Jet Magazine, April 10, 1953.]
Buettner’s extreme heat research led him to closely consult with two US Army researchers at the Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The two researchers were Lt. Col. John A. Moncrief and Major Jose A. Rivera. Moncrief and Rivera conducted a six-year study of “more than 1,000 burn cases” that focused on “the mortality rate from septicemia [infection] for 55 percent of all deaths.” Moncrief, Rivera, and Buettner met on many occasions related to this study, as well as several other projects overseen by Buettner. [See the forthcoming book by H.P. Albarelli Jr., Exploiting Evil: Project Paperclip, the Pentagon, CIA and Human Experimentation to be published this year by Progressive Press from which sections of this article are extracted].
- Soviet leader Khrushchev examining wreckage from a U.S. U-2 spy plane shot down over Soviet Union airspace on May 1, 1960 right in the thick of the Cold War. Washington at first denied its role as a role as a covert surveillance aircraft, but was forced to admit it when the Soviet government produced its remains and surviving spy pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
Both Moncrief and Rivera also worked at the Brooke Center with former Nazi Dr. Ulrich Cameron Lutz, hired through Project Paperclip in 1947 to perform rapid decompression experiments at SAM. From 1951 to about 1963, Lutz served intermittently as a consultant on high altitude acclimatization for both the Air Force and the CIA. This work included the ultra-secret development of the CIA’s U-2 spy plane. Ulrich, the son of a Scottish mother and German father, was born in Berlin in 1910. He was schooled as a research physiologist and physician, and by 1938 was an authority in the fields of lung physiology and the physiological effects of oxygen deprivation.
In 1937 and 1938, Lutz traveled as part of an expedition to climb Nanga Parbat [in Pakistan], the ninth highest mountain in the world. In 1954, William Randolph Lovelace II, a prominent American scientist who maintained a long-standing relationship with the CIA, invited Lutz to head the Department of Physiology at the Lovelace Clinic for Medical Education and Research in New Mexico. The CIA’s Project Oxcart made extensive use of the Lovelace Clinic in the training of high altitude spy pilots. Lutz passed away peacefully in 1991 at his Albuquerque, New Mexico home.
As some readers may be aware, Maj. Jose A. Rivera went on to become a figure of mystery due to his peripheral and bizarre involvement in the JFK assassination. Months before the assassination, in April 1963, he is reported to have dosed a woman with LSD and then attempted to hypnotize her. The woman, Adele Edisen, was then a 35-year old post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Health’s Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness at the Louisiana University School of Medicine. Edisen encountered Rivera at a medical conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. During their subsequent encounter in Washington, D.C., Rivera said a number of bizarre things to Edisen, including asking her to telephone Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans and to tell him “to kill the chief.”
Hidden Facts of Early U.S. LSD Experiments
As revealed in part-one of this article, chief among the former Nazis who worked at the Army’s Edgewood Arsenal and for the CIA was Dr. Friedrich Hoffmann, who was brought to the U.S. in 1947. Hoffmann’s official title at Edgewood was Chief of Agents Research. “Agents” in this case were any drugs that held incapacitating or lethal potential in chemical warfare, including the targeting of small groups or individuals. One of the earliest drugs that drew Hoffmann’s attention was LSD, a compound he had been aware of since before the conclusion of World War II.
As is widely known today, Drs. Arthur Stoll and Albert Hofmann at the Pharmaceutical-Chemical Research Laboratories of Sandoz AG [now Novartis] in Basle, Switzerland first synthesized LSD in 1938. Equally well known is the often-told story of Albert Hofmann’s LSD trip in 1943 that included his riding his bicycle.
Not so well known is that Sandoz’s Hofmann within less than two months of his 1943 experience launched a number of experiments with LSD on unwitting human subjects. Wrote British psychiatrist and LSD researcher, Dr. Ronald Sandison in 1965: “Hofmann then went to the Burgholzli Hospital, where he gave LSD on 20 occasions to 3 male and 3 female schizophrenic patients. The results, as may be expected, were inconclusive.”
In addition to hospital patients, Hoffman experimented with LSD on about 20 university students and laboratory workers, at least one of whom committed suicide by jumping from a high window, an event that was successfully covered up for decades.
Interesting to note is the curious timing of the Sandoz human experiments which coincided with Nazi experiments with mescaline on inmates at the Dachau concentration camp only about two hundred miles away from the Sandoz laboratories. Indeed, in the late 1990s rumors emerged from Europe that the Sandoz company, as well as some of its officials and leading chemists, maintained close ties with Nazi scientists during the war years.
- Studies into Switzerland’s wartime role have shed light on the country’s political and economic ties to Nazi Germany. The reports found that the public was largely kept in the dark about the country’s support of the Nazi war machine.
Rumors advanced to facts in 2001 when the findings of an Independent Commission of Experts (ICE), established to probe Switzerland’s wartime past, released its report. The commission concluded that Sandoz, and other Basel-bases companies, including Ciba, took full advantage of their ties to the Third Reich and based their economic planning on their relationships with the Nazis. ICE revealed that Sandoz and Ciba had extensive contacts with the Nazis, and that several Swiss companies employed slave and forced labour at their plants. The commission also reported that Sandoz in the interests of maintaining ties and good will with the Nazis removed a number of their Jewish directors of German subsidiaries and replaced them with Germans loyal to the Nazi party and the party’s “Aryanisation” policies. Additionally, information released by the commission demonstrated Sandoz in many ways acted as part-and-parcel with the IG Farben company, which manufactured the lethal gases used to murder millions of Jews in concentration camps.
In early 1949, former Nazi Friedrich Hoffmann [not to be confused with Sandoz’s Albert Hofmann] consulted with U.S. Army Chemical Corps research director Dr. L. Wilson Greene on the merits of LSD as a chemical warfare agent employed to avoid the traditional bloodshed and violence of war. His contacts with Greene soon led to the Army’s advancement of LSD and other hallucinogenics as possible uses for modern warfare.
- In the 1950s and ’60s, the CIA engaged in an extensive program of human experimentation, using drugs, psychological, and other means, in search of techniques to control human behavior for counterintelligence and covert action purposes. The CIA was the world’s largest consumer of Sandoz LSD; it worked covertly with the Bureau of Narcotics and other government agencies to covertly give LSD to unwitting persons in "real life settings." Once they were done with unsuspecting individuals, CIA let the LSD genie out of the bottle into the general population.
In 1951, following Hofmann’s 1950 visits to the St. Louis Mental Hospital and to Ionia Mental Hospital in Detroit to review LSD human experiments conducted at each facility, the CIA invited Hoffmann to formally share his voluminous knowledge about hallucinogenic and other mind-altering drugs with agency chemists working for its just forming Chemical Branch within its Technical Services Section (TSS). This arrangement soon led to the formation of the Amazon Natural Drug Company (ANDCO), which Hoffmann directed, along with former U.S. Army Counterintelligence and Bureau of Federal Narcotics official Garland Williams. Hoffmann’s primary task with ANDCO was to oversee the collection of samples of natural drugs worldwide and to transport them back to the CIA’s secret warehouses in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. In his travels for the CIA’s ANDCO, Hoffmann came into frequent contact with Dr. James Moore of the University of Delaware, a covert CIA consultant.
As noted in part one of this article, Hoffmann also rendezvoused with pioneer mycologist Gordon Wasson and James Moore in Mexico. Hoffmann, who was aware that Moore worked surreptitiously for the CIA, would also meet several times with Sandoz Chemical company officials, including Drs. Albert Hofmann, W. A. Stoll, Jr. and Ernst Rothlin. Hoffmann also met on at least two occasions with Dr. Henry K. Beecher, a noted Harvard University professor, who in turn had met often with Sandoz officials Hofmann, Stoll, and Rothlin, as well as with the covert operative who had secretly worked since 1946 for U.S. Army intelligence in the Sandoz laboratories.
Hoffmann, who was knowledgeable about the 1951 covert LSD experiment in Pont St. Esprit, but was excluded from active on-site participation because of his nationality and former work for the Nazis (Hoffmann was born in Offenbach, Germany in 1910.) At about the same time, and later in 1953-1954, Hoffmann participated in covert drug experiments conducted by the Army and CIA in Panama and Haiti. Said one former Army intelligence officer: “The activities that couldn’t be conducted in Maryland at [Fort] Detrick or Edgewood [Arsenal], things nobody could get away with in the United Sates, were done in Panama and Haiti because there were no regulatory or legal obstacles in either country. The only potential problems were of a moral nature and those were always put or pushed aside.”
In 1961, following nearly 15 years employment with the U.S. Army and CIA, Hoffmann left his employment with American government and took an appointment as an assistant professor at the University of Delaware. Aiding him in this career move was CIA consultant Dr. James Moore.
Other articles of interest are:
The U.S. ruling class’ bargains with the Reich, by Vladimir Simonov, Voltaire Network, 3 May 2005.
«Operation Paperclip» : des V2 à la Lune, by Thierry Meyssan, Réseau Voltaire, 24 August 2004.
Les Bush et Auschwitz, une longue histoire, by Thierry Meyssan, Réseau Voltaire, 3 June 2003.