A new documentary from Netflix explores the pleasant lives led by Nazi scientists on US soil after WWII, who were attended hand-and-foot by Jewish American soldiers.

During World War II, the Jewish population in Europe had suffered through the Holocaust and those who could escape did so, on boats to the United States. The documentary Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis tells of their ordeal in their new homeland, and how Nazis once again crossed their paths.

Using a mixture of animation and documentary intercuts of former Jewish American soldiers, Camp Confidential sheds light on Operation Paperclip, in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were given US citizenship despite the fact that some were Nazi officials, directly contributing to deaths in WWII or aware of the atrocities carried out in concentration camps.

The Jewish men who, as naturalised citizens, were able to serve in the army, initially were enthusiastic about “kicking some Nazi butts.” Yet instead, those who could speak fluent German were assigned to a nameless facility nicknamed PO Box 1142.

The new Jewish recruits traveled under the cover of night in boarded up buses to the camp, “which looked more like a country club than prison.” There they would be assigned to the task of keeping Nazi prisoners of war happy enough so that the former Nazis would divulge the secrets of Hitler’s Germany.

For example, Nazi scientist Wernher von Braun was there, free to roam and definitely not behind bars. There was no torture, only an outpouring of support in hopes of finding out more about the V2 rockets he designed for Nazi Germany “that had killed countless numbers of people and now he was gonna come work for us.”

Israeli documentary filmmakers Daniel Sivan and Mor Loushy sat down with two Jewish recruits, Arno Mayer and Peter Wiess, believed to be the last survivors of men who served at PO Box 1142. Both men were frustrated at having had to treat the architects of Hitler’s war with politesse if not downright kindness.

While the story seems implausible, it is, in fact, very real: “The first thing is, when producers Benji and Jono Bergmann approached us with this and told us of the story, we didn’t believe it,” Sivan says. “It was just so out-there.”

“We would prefer to treat them as war criminals they were, but when you’re in the army you follow orders,” Mayer says in the film.

The Nazis were treated as guests, and were given privileges such as shopping at a department store for their wives and kids back on the Continent (‘a Jewish department store,” Wiess reminisces happily, from which they were eventually kicked out of), and Christmas services, one for Catholics, and another for Protestants, which the Jewish soldiers had to translate into German.

PO Box 1142 was razed in 1946, and no one came forward to talk about it until the 2000s.

“We had hours of these interviews [conducted by the  National Parks Service in the 2000s], and I remember very vividly that we were shocked,” Loushy tells the Guardian. “I had chills. This was an unbelievable relationship forming there, between the Jewish refugees and the Nazis who would’ve captured them. Nobody knew about it, and the people who conducted the interviews never told anyone about it. They didn’t even tell their wives or children – they took this secret to their grave.”

One of the Jewish guards says that the US was happy to house Nazi criminals on its soil because the alternative would be the USSR gaining access to their know how. He adds that the Texas rocket programme turned into the Apollo Project, which ended up with the US sending the first manned mission to the moon, ahead of the Russians.

Sivan says Meyer wanted to talk about the Cold War: “During the Second World War, while the fighting was still going on, his mission was to start fighting the Russians. The fact is that the US had already targeted a new arch-enemy, and it’s shocking to see how fluid it is, the changing of enemies. Who was once your friend and ally is now the source of all evil. And these Nazis, who were the pinnacle of evil, were suddenly our best friends.”

“You see these Jewish refugees who’d escaped Europe a few years before, all of their families murdered in the Holocaust, and now they’ve got to form a relationship with Nazis?” Loushy adds. “It’s absolutely insane. There’s a red line to causes, at the end of the day. The Nazis committed crimes against humanity.”

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis, a 35-minute documentary filled with implausible yet true events, can be streamed on Netflix.

Source: TRT World