The ALSOS Mission

Title:                      The ALSOS Mission

Author:                 Boris T. Pash

Pash, Boris T. (1969). The ALSOS Mission. New York: Award House

LCCN:    70104782

D810.S2 P28


Date Updated:  May 3, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

Pash was military leader of the World War II Alsos mission, the top-secret unit whose purpose was to determine what work the Germans had undertaken in atomic weapons and research and to acquire intelligence on their overall scientific progress, facilities, and personnel. The mission also had the aim of locating and capturing German scientists to prevent their falling into Russian hands. Lasby in Project Paperclip[2] praised Alsos for its excellent planning and the courage and zeal of Pash. This is a first-hand, authoritative account that reveals the work of the mission and the personality of Pash himself. He is good on how intelligence leads were acquired and pursued to get further intelligence for the successful accomplishment of objectives. Many administrative and logistical details of the mission are imparted that are not of interest to the intelligence specialist other than those involved in providing support, and there are direct quotes that may not be exact after a quarter of a century. Goudsmit, the scientific head of the unit—whose book Alsos[3] must be read as a complement to Pash’ s account—said, “Pash never failed us.” The Alsos mission has been praised as a model of military-civilian cooperation. Lasby’ s book is required for a fuller understanding of the evolution of U.S. policy on German scientists. Pash was earlier involved as a security officer in the investigation of Soviet attempts to steal U.S. atomic secrets, a fact he mentions, and he is cited in works about these cases.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[4]

An excellent treatment of the ALSOS mission in WWII by the military leader of the combined military-scientific team. (See Goudsmit, ALSOS, n. 3). Describes the problems, operations, and results of this critical intelligence mission to determine the extent of German progress on atomic research/production.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[5]

As commanding officer of the ALSOS Mission, a scientific intelligence unit sent to Europe in 1944 to uncover information of German scientific military developments, particularly information on progress in atomic weapon development, Colonel Pash relates how procedures were developed for field operations against scientific targets.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, p. 357

[2] Lasby, Clarence G. (1971). Project Paperclip: German Scientists And The Cold War. New York: Atheneum

[3] Goudsmit, Samuel A. (1947). ALSOS. New York: Henry Schuman

[4] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature: A Critical And Annotated Bibliography of Open-Source Literature (7th ed, rev.). Washington, D.C. : Defense Intelligence School, p. 48

[5] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 113


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4 Responses to The ALSOS Mission

  1. Pingback: ALSOS | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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  4. Pingback: Scientific and Technical Intelligence, Chapter 10 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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