The Evacuation of Saxony and Thuringia
During the war the Allied bombing of Berlin and other German cities caused many research operations to be relocated to small villages not targeted by the American and British air forces. The then German provinces of Saxony and Thuringia, where many of the research facilities and their personnel had been sent, were slated to be transferred to the control of the Soviets in July 1945. American and British intelligence acted to remove as many of the German specialists as they could before they came under the Soviet’s influence.
After the specialists were identified and located, the Office of the Military Government of the United States (OMGUS) ordered them to report to a specific location, leaving behind possessions which could not be readily carried. They were then transported by military vehicles to the nearest operational train station and sent to Berlin. Once under the control of US authorities they were resettled in the American Zone of control. Most were not provided with research work, and were essentially under house arrest, with limited movement privileges.
More than 1,800 German technical specialists were removed from Saxony and Thuringia along with their families. Those few with information deemed to be of immediate necessity regarding the war with Japan were sent to interrogation camps, the rest were scattered in the countryside, where they were required to report to Military Police periodically to keep their whereabouts known to OMGUS.
The United States provided the specialists with a small payment to cover their living expenses. Reimbursement for losses of property and income became an issue of debate among the detainees and the Americans. During the period of detention various US agencies and research facilities recruited among the detainees, who were ordered to be held until all relevant information had been gleaned by interviewers.
Since most of the detainees were prevented from doing research during the period of their detention, by 1948 the information to be derived from them was largely out of date. The US government eventually paid them a settlement of almost 70 million Reichsmarks, which quickly lost most of its value as a result of West German currency reform.