Miller Center

Douglas O'Reagan

History, University of California, Berkeley

Science, Technology and Diplomacy: American, British, and French Efforts to Extract German Science and Technology During and Following the Second World War

O'Reagan photo

Douglas O'Reagan has been selected as the Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded Fellowship in Technology and Democracy.

Douglas O'Reagan is a postdoctoral fellow in Digital Humanities in the Departmentof History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2016 where he works closely with faculty members of Humanities subjects (History, Literature, Global Studies and Languages, and Comparative Media Studies/Writing) to produce a comprehensive assessment of the needs, current capacity, and future uses of digital humanities at MIT.  Prior to joining MIT, O'Reagan was visiting Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of History at Washington State University

O'Reagan's dissertation, "Science, Technology and Diplomacy: American, British, and French Efforts to Extract German Science and Technology During and Following the Second World War," provided a comparative perspective and analysis of the possibilities and difficulties of international technology transfer.  Following the Second World War, the United States, United Kingdom, and France operated cooperative yet competitive efforts to extract technology, industrial machinery, and scientific personnel from Germany. The United States and United Kingdom began these efforts in a joint study of German military technology for use against Japan, yet they quickly expanded to cover all aspects of civilian industrial technology, and the newly-established Gaullist French government eagerly joined in, each nation anticipating great value from these "intellectual reparations." Some aspects of these programs have become something like common knowledge - the most famous case being the German aeronautical engineers led by Wernher von Braun drafted into American space research through "Operation Paperclip" – but they have rarely been considered in a wider context, as a phenomenon international in character but with key differences in the programs' implementation and goals in each national context. O'Reagan's dissertation also examines the role of access to shared technology in postwar international economic integration; how each nation's postwar challenges, and a growing perception of the importance of science and technology in overcoming them, impacted early Cold War diplomacy; and how these local circumstances shaped each country's experience of the broader phenomenon of the drawing together of industry, academic institutions, and governments experienced by each nation during and quickly following the war.

Fellowship year: 2014

Mentor: James Hershberg, George Washington University

Selected Recent Publications

"Learning to Code, Learning to Collaborate.Berkeley Digital Humanities blog, July 9, 2015.

"French Scientific Exploitation and Technology Transfer from Germany in the Diplomatic Context of the Early Cold War." International History Review (February 13, 2014)

HistoriCal Outreach Podcast

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