Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis,” depicts an unusual tale that seems no less than a paradox. The name PO Box 1142 stays fresh in the minds of the veterans who served there. During WW2, The United States of America operated a military camp near Washington D. C and it was kept a secret by the state for a period of 50 years. A lot of Jewish individuals had escaped from Europe during WW2 and come to the U.S. They enrolled themselves in the army and fought against the Nazis. For the government, it was like killing two birds with one stone.
On the one hand, the strength of their army increased, and on the other hand, they now had individuals who had personal vendetta from the dictatorial regime that was reigning havoc on European soil. The feeling of abhorrence that these Jewish individuals had against the Nazi rule made them swear unconditional allegiance to the United States Government. The resentment and abomination fueled their motivation to be an active participant in the armed conflict.
But 1142 was not what they expected it to be. The U.S government was not only thinking about the current war. They were applying their prescience and planning for a world after the war.
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis documentary was directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, and they try to find out what exactly happened at the hidden military installation through the real-life accounts told by two war veterans, Arno Mayer and Peter Peiss, who were a part of that camp.
What was Happening inside ‘Camp Confidential’ ?
The scientific know-how that the German forces had was beyond par as compared to any other nation. The fear was that soon enough, Hitler would develop a rocket that would be able to reach Washington D.C. V-2 was the name given to a German ballistic missile that was known for its long range.
In the military camp, German prisoners were brought and interrogated about the v-2 missiles. Fear and methods of deterrence were essential tools to get the information out. It was a bizarre setup where the Jewish refugees had to question the German soldiers. At every instant, they had the urge to kill the German prisoners, but their hands were tied as getting valuable intel was the topmost priority. The most significant breakthrough was when PO Box 1142 was able to locate the site where Hitler was building the V-2 rockets.
A Secret Underground Factory – Peenemunde
Wernher Von Braun was the mastermind behind the V-2. The team of scientists led by Braun operated from an underground factory which was called Peenemunde. The U.S troops bombed the site and destroyed the manufacturing unit. The war was over, but still, the mess had to be appropriately cleared because if left undone, then there was fear that a nation that was once an ally might take advantage of the situation.
“I want to take an action which is illegal and might wind me up in jail,” told General Bissell, who served as an officer in the U.S air forces. The U.S government knew that the German scientists were like a nuclear weapon. A strategic use would ensure that their intellect and acumen could be used to benefit the nation and get the upper hand. An island in Boston harbor was chosen to be the exact spot where these scientists would be transferred illegally.
Arno Mayer recalls that his role suddenly changed. From being an interrogation officer, he now became a public relations guy. A good relationship with Wernher von Braun meant that the U.S would have the upper hand as compared to the Soviet Union. Many suggest that it was the beginning of the Cold War between the two superpowers.
Wernher von Braun and his Government Sponsored Vacation
“We have to keep them happy,” was the order from the Pentagon. There was a confidential fund, too, that existed. It was used for entertaining the German guests and providing them with all the luxuries. The scientist Lansburgh Brothers, the biggest department store, sent gift hampers to their family in Europe.
Wernher von Braun also played an essential role in the Apollo mission. He was heavily rewarded by the government and seen as a symbol of technological advancement and the nation’s superiority. Even the family of the scientists were brought to the U.S, and many worked with the CIA and NASA.
PO Box 1142- Was it Justified?
Arno Mayer says, “He knew there was an Auschwitz.” He refers to Wernher Von Braun when he says that. The scientists were never held accountable for the crimes they had committed as an integral part of the Nazi army. Wernher Von Braun had full knowledge about what the V-1s and V-2s will be used for. Peter Wiess says that his whole family died in the Holocaust, and here he was being hospitable to a man who made those missiles that were ensanguined in the blood of his people. This particular move left Jewish soldiers begrudging and full of resentment.
But I think eventually, you realize the harsh reality. Decisions are not taken in politics based on what is right or wrong. It is merely taken to achieve the desired result, no matter how unjustified it seems. You also realize the petty cost of human life and how frivolous the pledge of fairness and justice are in reality.
Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis is a 2021 Historical Documentary about how diplomacy often disregards human values and how the want for domination and advancement supersedes everything. It is streaming on Netflix.