In the summer of 1945, as the war in Europe was rapidly approaching an end. the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff implemented a program to recruit key German scientists, many of them members of the Nazi party, in order to gain valuable technologies which could be used in the Pacific theater. This was called Operation OVERCAST. Initially, the goal was simply to interview key German scientists and assess their technological know-how. As the full scope of the German war-machine came to light, Operation OVERCAST morphed into Operation PAPERCLIP. PAPERCLIP continued for years after the war and provided asylum to the German scientists and their families as long as they continued to work for the United States. This provided the U.S. with an edge in the nascent Cold War and, in the long term, the Space Race. The Soviets, not to be outdone, conducted their own Operation OSOAVIAKHIM, which used more stringent recruiting methods (gunpoint).
Operation PAPERCLIP was executed by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), and though secret at the time, many of its activities and its recruits have come to light. Hidden deeper in the shadows, under the oversight of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), was the aptly named Project UMBRA.
UMBRA, though rather obviously named in hindsight, delved into the occult side of the Nazi apparatus. Research bore into the Vril Society, the Thule Gesselshaft, and other organizations overseen by Hitler’s chief occultist, Heinrich Himmler. It was then that both the Allies and the Soviets discovered that which small cadres of secret societies had known for millennia. That vampires, and their cousin therianthropes, were all too real.
That the Soviets abducted or recruited their fair share is well-establish at this point. The United States used UMBRA like a supernatural PAPERCLIP. Recruiting compliant preternatural beings to their cause, often through the use of blackmail, and often through less savory methods. In order to keep them in line and maintain a method of control (immortal beings become grossly immoral over time if not constantly grounded in the present), supernatural beings were set up with mortal human partners. Together, these pairs came to be known as hunter-killer teams and conducted covert and wetwork missions against other extant supernatural threats or in cases where conventional covert methods were deemed unreliable or too dangerous to complete.
Throughout the years, UMBRA changed names many times. We know it was known as DAMOCLES by the time the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) came into being. And it was PIPER and WORMWOOD by the time it moved under the National Security Agency (NSA) during the Church Committee hearings. The NSAs black budget was so large, it was relatively simple to hide an entire separate intelligence and covert strike unit within it. But the name UMBRA, perhaps too apt a description of its operations, seemed to stick around. The supernatural immortals were reluctant to learn new codewords every few years and so the name persisted.
Two years ago, after The Reveal, when vampires exposed their existence to an incredulous planet, the NSA disbanded UMBRA. The fact that the U.S. government employed wetwork teams to “neutralize” vampires came as a problematic embarrassment under the new order. The Lightbearer Society is still seeking reparations from the government and though their cause seems lost now, stranger things have happened.
Many former UMBRA operatives, those who did not flee in fear of reprisals, joined law enforcement as major cities realized the need for Nocturn Affairs units, to deal with crimes committed by and against vampires. It seems that UMBRA is now gone and, aside from a few loose ends, should be relegated to the pages of history.
But the title of this article is “What is Project UMBRA?” not, “What was Project UMBRA?” To those in the know and who can see the signs around the world, to those who know where to look and how to read between the lines, UMBRA is very much still active.