The Alsos Mission was an organized effort by a team of British and United States military, scientific, and intelligence personnel to discover enemy scientific developments during World War II. Its chief focus was on the German nuclear energy project, but it also investigated both chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver them.
The Alsos Mission was created following the September 1943 Allied invasion of Italy with a twofold assignment: search for personnel, records, material, and sites to evaluate the above programs and prevent their capture by the Soviet Union. It was established as part of the Manhattan Project’s mission to coordinate foreign intelligence related to enemy nuclear activity. Alsos personnel followed close behind the front lines in Italy, France, and Germany, occasionally crossing into enemy-held territory to secure valuable resources before they could be destroyed or scientists escape or fall into rival hands.
The Alsos Mission was commanded by Colonel Boris Pash, a former Manhattan Project security officer, with Samuel Goudsmit as chief scientific advisor. It was jointly staffed by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), the Manhattan Project, and Army Intelligence (G-2), with field assistance from combat engineers assigned to specific task forces.
Alsos teams were successful in locating and removing a substantial portion of the German research effort’s surviving records and equipment. They also took most of the senior German research personnel into custody, including Otto Hahn, Max von Laue, Werner Heisenberg and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Documents
CIA Documents on the ALSOS Mission [25 Pages, 9.1MB]