Michel Thomas

Michel Thomas  (February 3, 1914 – January 8, 2005)  served in the 307th CIC. His story is so amaizing that I decided to post it here.For what I know he served with my father, or at least the periods coincide. I’m proud to know one of dad’s Brother in Arms.

Michel Thomas at the WWII Memorial


CIC Agents Michel Thomas (left) and Ted Kraus (right)


Those Wlho Fight For Michel Thomas

In Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s website

In the D.O.D. 

Army News Service

Michel Thomas was born Moniek Kroskof, the only son of a Jewish family who owned a textile factory in Lodz, Poland. Michel is currently a citizen of the United States and a resident of New York. When still a child, Michel left Poland to live with his aunt in Breslau, Germany. The only Jew in his class, he was proud of his identity. While classmates drew swastikas on the front of their schoolbooks, Michel drew the Star of David.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Michel left Germany and went to live in France. He graduated from the Department of Philology at the University of Bordeaux. In 1937, Michel returned briefly to Poland to visit his mother, and, en route, stopped in Breslau to see his aunt. He would never see them again after this visit. After the war, he learned that his entire family had been slaughtered at Auschwitz.

In early 1938, Michel went to Austria to study psychology at the University of Vienna. Shortly afterwards, the Anschluss occurred and Austria too was occupied by the Nazis. Michel’s passport was confiscated and in October 1938, he fled Austria, a stateless Jew. Together with his young girlfriend, Michel smuggled his way across the Siegfried-Maginot line and arrived in France.

In September 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Michel volunteered for the French Army and served in the intelligence corps in Nice. When France fell, Michel stayed in Nice and worked as an entrepreneur, organizing shows in the big hotels of the Cote d’Azur. The Vichy regime was established in July 1940 and life soon became precarious for an alien Jew. Narrowly avoiding capture and imprisonment, Michel began to help local Jewish refugees and clung on in Nice until September 1940, when he was arrested by the police for “influence peddling”. He spent four months in solitary confinement. After he was miraculously freed, he left for Monte Carlo, beyond the jurisdiction of the French police.

During an overnight trip to Nice, he was once again arrested and sent to Le Vernet, a brutal Vichy concentration camp near Foix in the Pyrenèes, where the inmates starved. After he developed black lung, he was sent to a slave labor camp in the Alps. He was then transferred to Les Milles, a concentration camp for Jews awaiting deportation on the outskirts of Aix-en-Provence. Locally it was known as “l’abbatoir” – the slaughterhouse. Michel avoided the increasingly frequent deportations to Auschwitz until August 1942, when he managed to escape from the camp and make his way to Lyon.

In September 1942, he joined the French Resistance. He was tasked with recruiting fighters among the Jewish refugees in the area. In February 1943, Michel went to the offices of the Union Gènèrale des Israelites de France (UGIF) in Lyon. Unbeknownst to Michel, Klaus Barbie (the “Butcher of Lyon” and head of the Gestapo there) had set a trap for German-speaking Jewish refugees at that location. Michel was stopped and interrogated by Barbie. He managed to escape and survive the interrogation by pretending that he did not speak German (which he did) and pretending that he was a French painter. (Michel later testified for the prosecution at the trial of Klaus Barbie in France.)

A month later, Michel was arrested, this time by the French Milice. He was tortured for
six hours by the Gestapo and the French police, but did not break down. Aided by the Resistance, he escaped and became part of a commando group on Grenoble – the Third and Half Brigade of the First Alpine Division – whose tasks included blowing up bridges and destroying communications.

In June 1944, as a lieutenant of the French Forces of the Interior, Michel commanded a group that destroyed telephone lines in coordination with the landing of the Allies in Normandy. The Allies arrived in Grenoble in August that year, and Michel was attached to the 1st Battalion of the 180th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division, 7th US Army. Thomas acted as a liaison between the American forces and the French resistance. His duties included running patrols into enemy territory to gather combat intelligence and coordinate with members of the resistance.

In recognition of his service in the 1st Battalion, 180th Infantry Regiment, Michel was recommended for the Silver Star, one of the military’s highest medals for valor.
The recommendation described at great length Michel’s extraordinary courage and effectiveness in combat near Autrey, France (misspelled “Aubray” in the recommendation letter). As the Allies approached the German border in the fall of 1944, the French government dissolved the French resistance in order to incorporate its members into the French army. It was at this time that Lieutenant Henry F. Teichmann of the 180th Infantry Regiment wrote an order detaching Lt. Thomas from the 180th Inf. Reg. of the 45th Div. Michel then began training with the French army to parachute into Germany.

In March 1945, Michel became an agent in the 45th Division US Counter Intelligence Corps. (CIC). Michel operated as an official Agent of the United States Army CIC and wore the U.S. Army collar tags worn by CIC Agents. He spoke English and seven other languages fluently at that time, and went with the American troops into Germany.

In his capacity as a CIC agent, Michel was present at the liberation of Dachau [concentration camp] on April 29, 1945. He took a number of photographs at the time of liberation that document the horrors that occurred there. Michel still has many of those photographs and the negatives as well. He also has other documents in his possession, including crematorium workers’ statements. While at Dachau, Michel gathered information about Emil Mahl (the Hangman of Dachau). On the first of May 1945, based on the information he obtained in Dachau just days before, Michel arrested Emil Mahl and obtained a signed confession. Michel still has the original signed document of Mahl’s confession.

Also in early May 1945, Michel discovered a huge cache of Nazi government documents and Nazi Party membership cards at a paper mill in Freimann, Germany, outside of Munich. After the war, the documents Michel found became the heart of the collection of the Berlin Document Center, which was handed over to the German government in 1994. Michel still possesses a number of documents and other items taken from the mill in May 1945. In September 1945, Michel was transferred to the Ulm subsection of the 307th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment.

Michel was given sole authority to organize the search for and apprehension of S.S. Major Gustav Knittel, who had been implicated in the Malmedy-Stavelot massacre of more than 130 American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. On January 5, 1946, Michel and his CIC colleague Ted Kraus captured Knittel at an isolated home near Ulm, and interrogated him. In July 1946, Knittel was sentenced to life in prison by the American military tribunal at Dachau; later his sentence was commuted. While incarcerated, both Knittel and Emil Mahl wrote Michel to complain of their treatment when Michel arrested them.

During his service in CIC, Michel was involved in a sting operation in which he posed as a “Dr. Frundsberg”, commander of a phony SS “Grossorganization” He persuaded a number of former SS officers that this organization was to function as a centralized command of the underground SS terrorist organization (Werewolves) in occupied Germany. His CIC colleagues secretly taped meetings that Michel staged and conducted with former SS officers; these meetings eventually led to his becoming the commander of the Werewolf organization. Eventually, a number of former SS officers were tried and sent to prison based on the evidence gathered by Michel’s operation.

In October 1946, Michel was recommended for US citizenship by the commanding officer of 45th CIC Detachment. In July 1947, Michel left Europe and moved to the United States.

In September 1947, after he arrived in America to build a new life, Michel founded the
Polyglot Institute on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, which was the precursor of the
Michel Thomas Language Centers. Today, Michel’s language centers operate in New York, NY and Beverly Hills, CA.

Michel’s language teaching method is unique and extraordinarily effective. His method does not involve taking notes or memorizing grammar and vocabulary, and anyone, including so-called “hopeless cases,” can learn a language with him or one of his trained instructors. Michel’s skill lies in the way in which he strips the language to its essential components, builds the student’s confidence in what they may already know of the language, and guides them through the learning process rapidly and intensively. The result is that after just eight hours of instruction a beginner has a practical and functional use of the spoken language.

Michel himself believes that his learning process is not only effortless but also fun. He has successfully taught ghetto children and, in 1997, a group of sixteen-year-olds in north London who had been told they could never learn a language. His celebrity clients have included, to name just a few, Grace Kelly, Anne Bancroft, Mel Gibson, Donald Sutherland, Emma Thompson, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Barbra Streisand, and a host of senior American business leaders, diplomats, dignitaries and academics.

Today, Michel Thomas’ 8-hour language teaching courses are available on tape and CD to everyone and can be found in bookstores in several countries. They are also sold on the Internet on such web sites as Amazon.com. In The United Kingdom they are now the best-selling language courses. Michel Thomas has become the most famous master language teacher in the world.

In 2000, after more than two years of research, Christopher Robbins, an investigative journalist and author, published a biography of Thomas entitled “Test of Courage – The Michel Thomas Story” (Free Press, 1999). While “Test of Courage” was an authorized biography of Thomas, Robbins was given complete editorial independence.

Since its initial publication, “Test of Courage” has sold approximately 10,000 copies in hardback. The book was not published in paperback format, and was sparsely, although favorably, reviewed. The Los Angeles Times reviewed the book on December 10, 1999.
The book has now been published in hardback and paperback in the United Kingdom.

For a full account of his fascinating life, read “Test of Courage: The Michel Thomas Story by Christopher Robbins, published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster

57 Responses to Michel Thomas

  1. facts says:

    Hello: I did extensive research on Michel Thomas’s life to prepare his defamation suit against the Los Angeles Times. Please contact me at the above email address and I can probably point you to a number of resources you would find of interest.

    Also, you should be aware that the Wikipedia article you cite above, to which I have attempted to make many contributions, is effectively controlled by LA Times reporter Roy Rivenburg, whom Thomas sued for defamation in 2001. Rivenburg relentlessly and obesessively edits the Wikipedia article about Thomas so that it will highlight
    “controversies” that he, and he alone, insists exist about Thomas’s life.

    In his profile of Thomas in 2001, Rivenburg portrayed him as a fraud who had lied about his WWII experiences. In 2004, the US Army awarded Thomas the Silver Star for his bravery fighting with US troops in France in 1944, and Senators Bob Dole and John Warner pinned the medal on Thomas in the shadow of the Atlantic Wall of the WWII Memorial, days before it was officially dedicated. The Ambassador of France also attended, along with several of Thomas’s surviving wartime comrades.

  2. nico says:

    Hi. Thank you so, so much for your post on the 307th CIC. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to hear from you. I have already deleted the Wikipedia part of that post. as a matter of fact, I did consider copying the text of your website, but then decided not to because of the copy rights. I would be more than happy to do so if allowed. If not I will search another story about him and replace the one I had. Also I will take you on your offer regarding the resources.

    I should also warn you that my family has been linked to Nazi war crimes, and that is the reason I have created the blogs. As it happens, my grandparents were only investigated due to a valuable art collection they had. However I have the documents declassified by NARA some of which can be seen at http://www.dekoenigsberg.wordpress.com

    I have requested Dad’s morning reports from NARA (which I should be receiving in the next couple of days, since the due date is today ). I have also requested a separate research to be done in the documents NARA has regarding the CIC.

    Once again, thank you so much for contacting me, and if thereis anything at all that I can do for you, just let me know.


    Nico de Koenigsberg

  3. Roy Rivenburg says:

    Comment Deleted

  4. nico says:

    Mr Rivenburg:

    I don’t know if you know how to read, but this blog is dedicated to Vets,
    Relatives and Friends of the 307th CIC. Obviously you are none of these. So please go somewhere else to defame true heroes like Michele Thomas. Let me put it plainly to you: YOU ARE NOT WELCOMED HERE.
    As the page on Defend America says, your article

    was more of a commentary piece than a hard news story, and protected by the First Amendment.

    You still have to reply to the questions Mr. Kline posed to you which you have not answered. Until you present solid proof, and not mere opinions, I will continue to view you as a humorist rather than a reporter.

  5. Nico, I’d be happy to present solid proof, including National Archives military documents, 1945 newspaper articles and more. Just tell me what documentation you’d like to see and where to send it. In the meantime, you might take a look at Mr. Thomas’ sworn deposition, in which he repeats the claim in his biography that he accompanied Felix Sparks’ battalion into Dachau. After that deposition was submitted to the court, Thomas’ investigator met with Sparks, who repeated what he told the Los Angeles Times: Thomas was NOT with the 3rd battalion. So, Thomas’ website now claims Thomas never said he accompanied Sparks’ battalion. That is demonstrably false. That’s just one example.

    Also, I DID answer every question posed at michelthomas.org, but they were removed from the site. Thanks.

  6. roy rivenburg says:

    p.s., My father, uncle and grandfather fought in WW2, and some of my friends at work fought in Vietnam. I can tell you they don’t appreciate people (such as Mr. Thomas) who misrepresent themselves as Army officers when, in fact, they were civilian employees of the Army. That’s not to say that Mr. Thomas didn’t perform valuable work during WW2. But he lied about being inducted (civilians cannot be an Army officer or a full-fledged CIC agent). And he said it was “an insult” to suggest he was a civilian assistant to the CIC, even though we have military documents bearing his signature over the words “civilian assistant.” To the veterans I know, claiming to be an officer when you’re really a civilian assistant is extremely disrespectful.

  7. nico says:

    Mr Rivenburg, I wonder if your family members would be so offended if they knew that Mr Thomas saved American lives . Above you said

    Nico, I’d be happy to present solid proof…” and ” Just tell me what documentation you’d like to see and where to send it.”

    Mr. Thomas and Mr. Kline were able to locate a former member fo the CIC, Ted Kraus, who served with Mr Thomas.
    I guess I should hold Mr Rivenburg to the same standars of proof, so I will challange him to find another former member of the CIC who will in a sworn and notarized affidavit, state that Mr. Thomas was not a full fleged member of the CIC. After all, that would not be such a difficult task for a “reporter” who works for a renowned newspaper as the LA Times.

  8. roy rivenburg says:

    You’re right, it’s not a difficult task. By the way,Theodore Kraus signed the same National Archives military document that Thomas did, only Kraus’ signature is above the words “CIC Agent,” whereas Thomas’ signature is above the words “Civilian Assistant – CIC.” I also have a document signed by their commander that refers to Thomas as a “special civilian assistant.” I can scan or fax you copies.

  9. nico says:

    “You’re right, it’s not a difficult task.”

    Should I understand that you have indeed accepted to locate a former member that served in the CIC with Mr Thomas, and obtain a sworn affidavit stating that Mr. Thomas did not act as an Agent?
    That would only be fair, since Mr Kline found not one, but four former members of the CIC ( Walter Wimer, , Bedford Groves, Henry Teichmann, in addition to Ted Kraus) who did come out and defend Mr. Thomas.
    So let’s cut to the chase Mr. Rivenburg: Yes or NO???

  10. The only authoritative source on Army membership is the Army itself. So, I’m sure you’d agree that military records trump sworn affidavits (which, by the way, only say that Thomas was treated like an agent, not that he actually was one). And I’m sure you’d agree that your father or anybody else who was a non-civilian Army officer or CIC agent would have a military service ID number and discharge papers. Thomas has neither. I repeat my offer to send you military records from the National Archives, dated in 1946 and signed by Thomas, Kraus and their unit’s CIC commander, that verify Thomas was a civilian employee of the Army, not an officer and not an agent.

  11. nico says:

    It is starting to look like a NO to me.

    Come on Mr Rivenburg, It is yours reputation and that of journalistic institution like the LA Times.

    Truth shall set you free sir.

  12. roy rivenburg says:

    p.s., Why has the wording changed in your latest post to say that Mr. Thomas merely “acted as an agent”? Your earlier post called him “a full-fledged agent.” There’s a big difference between the two. Thomas didn’t claim he was a civilian employee who was treated like an agent. He said he WAS an agent, and an officer. Sorry, but civilians cannot be officers.

  13. roy rivenburg says:

    I’ve offered to send you indisputable proof that Thomas was a civilian employee of the Army, not an officer or agent as he claimed. It’s a document he signed himself! And I’ve pointed out that he doesn’t have the military service ID number or discharge papers that your father and everyone else who was actually in the Army had. It doesn’t get any more definitive or authoritative than that. You don’t seem interested in receiving this proof. So, who’s not interested in the truth here? You.

  14. nico says:

    Mr Rivenburg: you said that you would presnt me the proof that I wished. Check you comments above just in case. It is there.The solid proof that I wanted was a sworn testimony of former CIC Agemts who served with Mr. Thomas.Not someone who served above Mr Thomas. Now, you are backing off. Take me on the challange I posed to you, if not, you are nothing but humorist to me. Say it loud and clear: These are nothing but your opinions. (And I do have proof of that!!!)

  15. nico says:

    Just when I start having some fun, you lose your sense of humor!!!Not good for a humorist.
    But lets get serious now. These are your own words

    Reviewer: Roy Rivenburg “Roy Rivenburg” (Los Angeles CA) – See all my reviews

    This book is loaded with factual errors in my opinion It makes claims about the World War II feats of Michel Thomas that are completely at odds with military records, newspaper articles from that era and other reliable sourcesSome examples:
    1. Author Christopher Robbins claims Thomas was an officer in the U.S. Army. In fact, Thomas was a civilian employee, and the L.A. Times, which debunked much of this book, has National Archives military documents from 1946 bearing Thomas’ signature over the words “civilian assistant.”

    2. In the book, Thomas said he was born in Poland. However, for 38 years, he told journalists he was born in France — and different parts of France at that.

    3. Robbins claims Thomas was with the first battalion of U.S. troops as it entered the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945. After the L.A. Times proved otherwise, Thomas tried to backtrack, claiming he never said he was with the battalion, only that he arrived at Dachau sometime the first day. There are two problems with this explanation. First, the introduction to “Test of Courage” states that Thomas verified every fact in the book. Second, Thomas had been claiming he was with the first troops in newspaper articles dating back to the 1950s.

    4. The book says Thomas single-handedly discovered and rescued millions of Nazi Party ID cards from destruction at a paper mill near Munich in May 1945. But this version of events is flatly contradicted by October 1945 articles in the New York Times and London Express.

    5. Robbins also claims Thomas escaped Gestapo butcher Klaus Barbie. But in 1983, the U.S. Justice Department’s chief Nazi hunter called a press conference to denounce Thomas’ Klaus Barbie stories. And when Thomas testified at Barbie’s 1987 trial, the prosecutor asked the jury to disregard Thomas’ testimony, saying it wasn’t made in good faith.

    Although the book purports to be thoroughly documented, the “evidence” [in my opinion] in it didn’t hold up, as several media reports have demonstrated.

  16. roy rivenburg says:

    The “in my opinion” phrases you quote above were added by Amazon.com. That’s why they’re in parentheses. As for the proof you requested, I offered the signed 1946 military document from the commander of the CIC unit that Michel worked for PLUS Michel’s own signature over the words “civilian assistant.” That’s better than a sworn affidavit from someone else 60 years after the fact. If you want to continue fantasizing that Michel wasn’t a civilian employee by not seeing the documents, that’s up to you.

  17. nico says:

    Let me quote you again:

    Just tell me what documentation you’d like to see and where to send it.

    And you also said this when I asked you to seek some CIC members who served with Mr Thomas:

    You’re right, it’s not a difficult task.

    Now you want me to believe that Amazon.com changed your review??? Prove it!

    Put up or shut up, Mr Rivenburg.

  18. You’re kidding, right? The CIC member who served with Thomas was A.M. Wilson, the freakin’ commander of the unit. If the document he signed isn’t good enough for you, Ms. Nico, (especially with the added bonus of Thomas’ own signature over the words “civilian assistant”), I’d probably also have trouble persuading you that the earth revolves around the sun. As for Amazon, whenever you see parentheses or ellipses, it means they’ve edited the review. Nowhere else have I written that any of this is “my opinion.” Quite the opposite. Meanwhile, among other things, YOU still haven’t explained the discrepancy between Thomas’ sworn deposition that he accompanied the 3rd Battalion into Dachau and his later attempt to say he never claimed to have accompanied that battalion.

  19. nico says:

    Hell no!! I don’t want no freaking pencil pusher commander. I want a fellow agent who were in the trenches with Michele Tlhomas. After all that would not be such a hard task. Unless of course if you now want to eat your own words. Fellow agent that served with Thomas. Nothing more, nothing less.
    By the way I noticed the date of the review on Test of courage. 2005, after Tlhomas passed away. Now that is low. You should be ashamed of yourself.
    Lets recap: The documentation that I want is FELLOW AGENTS THAT SERVED WITH THOMAS

  20. roy rivenburg says:

    Wilson wasn’t a pencil pusher, Miss Nico. He was the special agent in charge of Thomas and Kraus and therefore in a position to know Thomas’ official status, as was Thomas himself when he signed a statement acknowledging his civilian status. Why don’t you trust Thomas’ own signature??? And how do you explain the fact that Thomas, unlike your dad, had no military service ID number and no discharge papers? And why won’t you comment on Thomas’ sworn deposition (since you seem to place such a premium on sworn affidavits) that he accompanied the 3rd battalion as it broke into Dachau on the morning of April 29, 1945, a claim his own biographer and the 3rd battalion commander both say is erroneous?
    On your last point, unfortunately, the paper’s attorneys said I couldn’t say anything about Thomas before he died because he could have filed another frivolous lawsuit.

  21. nico says:

    Miss Nico? Just so you know I have a good pair of balls between my legs.
    Just for the record, say that you take your words back. You know that it will be impossible for you to get the solid proof that I want. And you know that it will be impossible because all of his fellow agents stood up for him. And please stop the Jihad you have against a remarkable hero.

  22. roy rivenburg says:

    Please. Everyone knows Nico is a girl’s name. The most famous example, of course, being the Velvet Underground singer.

  23. nico says:

    Mr. Roy Rivenburg, are you sure you want to engage in an insult contest with me? Fine! You dumb ass wannabe reporter, let me educate you a little bit. Nico is short for Nicolas, both in spanish and in italian. Any moron that has an IQ over 1 knows that Steven Segal played a role and his nickname was… you guessed it NICO.
    See, you are on CIC turff here and your shit don’t fly. You can’t run away with your tail between your legs no more. You cant have unanswered questions no more. I dont even have to post your insults no more. So do yourself a favor: go back to grade school and learn how to read and write ( it seems you need it)
    And for worse, just so you feel a little more embarased of your-dumb-ass self, even an ignorant mechanich like me can put you to shame. This is obvious since you have to resort to insults.
    Is that all you have??? Shame on you. Got some more? Bring it on :0)

  24. roy rivenburg says:

    I’m overwhelmed by your eloquence.

  25. roy rivenburg says:

    But I’m going to need a sworn affidavit or two before I believe Nico is short for Nicolas instead of Nicolette.

  26. nico says:

    What kind of reporter are you??? Do I have to do your work for you now??? Oh well lets educate you a bit more: Name Nico, gender Male, Origin Italian, Meaning victory of the people.

    How about them apples???

    By the way, it seems you would greatly benefit from Michel Thomas language school

  27. nico says:

    Hi Roy! Hope you had a good night sleep, and are ready for another day. How about we keep this civilized?

    I got ahold of this picture and ws wondering if you recognize the hero on the left?

  28. Nico, it was fun sparring with you. I’m sorry you’re uninterested in seeing the National Archives records, 1945 newspaper articles, Oscar-winning documentary and Klaus Barbie press clips I mentioned, because I think they would change your views about Mr. Thomas’ honesty. But it sounds like you’ve got your mind made up. So, I have to honor that. Take care.

  29. nico says:

    Damm Roy, just when I present you with undeniable proof, Michel Thomas in uniform, and thus not a “civilian assitant”, you say goodbye. Lucky its just you and me here, otherwise they would say it’s your MO.

    Anyways you take care.

  30. OK, one more msg. The uniform doesn’t mean anything. According to my CIC sources, it was common for foreign-born civilian assistants to wear uniforms. Again, if he really was an agent or officer, he’d have a military service ID number and discharge papers. And he certainly wouldn’t have signed any military document referring to himself as a civilian assistant.

  31. Alex Kline says:

    It looks like Mr. Rivenburg has wandered into a corner of the Internet where he’s not welcome.

    Mr. deKoenigsberg has asked Mr. Rivenburg to come up with an affidavit from someone who served in the CIC with Michel Thomas stating that he was a mere civilian assistant. This seems like a challenge that Mr. Rivenburg would be happy to take on, given his certainty that Mr. Thomas’s service in the CIC is an outrage and an affront to “real” agents, presumably such as his unnamed CIC sources, or to other vets such as his deceased male relatives or some colleagues at his office.

    Rivenburg responds that he has “solid proof” in the form of a document with Mr. Thomas’ signature over the words “civilian assistant.”

    Putting aside the issue of the authenticity of the signature, (have you had it examined by a graphologist?), let’s assume Michel Thomas did sign it. So what? You have proven precisely what Michel’s biography stated, at p. 157: that his status as a member of the U.S. Army was not by-the-book official. Here’s what the biography says, at p. 157: “He was attached to the S-2 (Combat Intelligence) section of the 1st Battalion, 180th Infantry, of the 45th Division… U.S. Seventh Army. Although it was highly irregular for a foreign national to work in combat intelligence, the Americans were more than happy to have him. His French and English were fluent, and he spoke German like a native …[quoting Michel] ‘It was all most unusual, but it was also in the midst of war.'”

    Then you state, “the uniform doesn’t mean anything.” Is that so? And your “CIC sources” (who are they? names? backgrounds? specific quotes?), say it was common for foreign-born civilian assistants to wear uniforms? Which uniforms? With what insignia?

    Once again, Mr. Rivenburg is engaged in the same forest-for-the-trees myopia that has been the signature of his approach to this subject since he first began his article about Michel Thomas in 2001. He purposefully avoids acknowledgment of any fact that does not fit his agenda — to discredit Michel Thomas — and triumphantly seizes upon a single item, which he presents to the public as “solid proof” that Michel was a liar and a fraud.

    Why don’t we consider what a real CIC Agent had to say, one who knew Michel Thomas and served with him during WWII, but never saw him again or had any contact with him until nearly sixty years later, when I found him.

    Mr. Rivenburg has known of this affidavit since it was first presented in the defamation case against him, yet I’ve seen no evidence that he’s ever acknowledged what it says, in more than five years since then.

    I, Walter Wimer, declare and state as follows:

    1. I am a former WWII colleague of Plaintiff Michel Thomas (“Thomas”). I was an Agent in the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps (“CIC”) from late 1944 to late 1945. Prior to my CIC service, I was in the 45th Infantry Division, 179th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Company K, and served in Italy and France as an infantryman. I was transferred from the infantry in late 1944 to the 45th Division CIC Detachment. I served in the CIC in France (Alsace-Lorraine), and in Germany, moving with the 45th Division as we advanced through Germany.

    I make this declaration in support of Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ Special Motion to Strike. I have personal knowledge of the facts set forth herein, which are known to me to be true and correct, and, if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto.

    2. I read the Los Angeles Times article, “Larger Than Life” concerning Michel Thomas. In the Article, reporter Roy Rivenburg wrote:

    “Although Robbins and Thomas say he was an officer in the U.S. Army at the time, the Pentagon was unable to verify his military service. One possible explanation is a 1973 fire that destroyed some personnel files. Another is that Thomas was actually a civilian employee.

    Robbins says proof of Thomas’ Army credentials is in the book: a photo of his Counter Intelligence Corps ID card. Conrad McCormick, a CIC veteran and archivist at the U.S. Army Intelligence Museum in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., says the card isn’t the official ID issued to full-fledged CIC agents. Rather, it’s for non-American civilians hired as translators and investigators, he says.”

    The implication in this passage that Michel Thomas was a civilian employee who worked merely as a translator or investigator inaccurately belittles Mr. Thomas’s service in the CIC. I recall Michel Thomas from our service together in the 45th Division CIC; there was no one else with the last name Thomas in our unit. I recognize him from the photos taken in his CIC uniform shown on the cover of, and inside, “Test of Courage.” Michel Thomas worked in the capacity of a CIC Agent, and the uniform he is pictured in, with the “U.S.” insignia on each side of the collar and on the cap, was worn by full-fledged Agents, not civilian employees. We did have French officers who worked with our unit, from the Deuxieme Bureau, but they wore French uniforms. I also recall a civilian employee who worked with us, named Alfredo Parisi; he did not wear the U.S. insignia on his collar or cap. Mr. Thomas was sent out on missions, by our commanding officers, in the same capacity and with same duties and powers as the other Agents of our unit.

    3. I have reviewed copies of the letters written on Mr. Thomas’s behalf in 1945 by Rupert W. Guenthner and Ernest T. Gearheart, Jr., copies of which are attached as Exhibit A. I knew both Guenthner and Gearheart well. Guenthner was our commanding officer, and Gearheart, a lawyer by training, was Special Agent in Charge of our unit. Guenthner wrote, in part, “The devotion of Kroskof-Thomas to the assigned mission of this unit far exceeded the demands placed on other personnel.” Gearheart wrote, in part, “I trust that the Silver Star Award, for which you have already been recommended by a unit of the 45th Infantry Division, may some day be authorized and granted to you, as tangible evidence of appreciation of your services.” These remarks, and the overall contents of each letter, indicate clearly that Michel Thomas’ role as a member of the CIC was one of far greater responsibility and accomplishment than that of a civilian translator or investigator, regardless of whatever official status Thomas may have had, due to his lack of U.S. citizenship.

    4. In my opinion, while the use of a non-U.S. citizen in the capacity of a CIC Agent would have been unusual, and perhaps contrary to official regulations, it would not have been out of the question during this period. As an Agent who spoke both French and German, I know that there was a shortage of German-speaking Agents, and a person such as Thomas who spoke German, as well as many other languages, was in great demand in the CIC generally, particularly because of the unexpectedly rapid advance our troops were making in Germany near the end of the war, and the frequent encounters we had with persons of many nationalities. We frequently worked in pairs, and ideally one member of the pair would be a German-speaking Agent when we worked in the field.

    5. The 45th Detachment consisted of fewer than 20 men. Our commanding officer, Captain Guenthner, did not speak German, nor did Ernest Gearheart, or Agents Francesco Quaranta, or Fausto Molinet. I recall only five other Agents in our unit beside myself who spoke fluent German: Arnold Vyth, Leonid Ruminoff, Albert Schiff, Hermann Kristeller, and Michel Thomas.

    6. The Article also states:

    “On the day Dachau fell, Thomas says, he was a U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps officer who temporarily joined two columns of tanks and infantry rolling through the German town to the camp.

    He says he didn’t have orders assigning him to the 157th Regiment: “I just went there. I could choose wherever I wanted to go.”

    Did anyone from the 157th know he was along for the ride?

    “They all knew I was there.”

    However, the commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, now a retired brigadier general and former justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, says he would certainly recall if Thomas had accompanied the 200-member force: “He’s got the right battalion, that’s correct, but there were no CIC [Counter Intelligence Corps] with us.”

    This passage implies that an infantry commander would have necessarily been aware if a particular CIC Agent accompanied his troops. This implication is misleading. As CIC Agents, we enjoyed great autonomy, and were free to move about at our own discretion, based on the particular situation we were in. In fact, General Eisenhower issued an order stating this. As for an infantry commander being aware of our presence with his troops, we usually traveled in pairs, in a single jeep. It would be not at all unusual for an infantry commander to be unaware of our presence among the scores of vehicles moving under his command.

    I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America, that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed January 8th, 2002 at Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  32. Alex Kline says:

    While we’re at it, let’s have a look at the Declaration of another of Michel Thomas’s CIC colleagues, Dr. Theodore Kraus, whom Mr. Rivenburg interviewed prior to publishing his article, but never mentioned in the article:

    I, Theodore C. Kraus, declare and state as follows:
    1. I am a friend of Plaintiff Michel Thomas (“Thomas”) whom I have known since 1945 when he and I served in the same United States U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps Unit. I have personal knowledge of the facts set forth herein, which are known by me to be true and correct, and, if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto.
    2. I read the Los Angeles Times article, “Larger Than Life” and I was deeply offended. It was clear to me that the Article strongly implied that Thomas had not been a member of the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps (“CIC”); that he had not been present at Dachau when it was liberated by the U.S. Army; that he did not play a key role in locating and rescuing the Nazi Party Master membership card file and an enormous quantity of other Nazi documents from a paper mill near Munich in May 1945; that he did not escape from Klaus Barbie; and that Thomas generally was a fraud and a sham and that the totality of his alleged World War II experiences were fabricated.
    3. In my opinion, the manner in which the reporter, Mr. Rivenburg, explained Thomas’ participation in the CIC called Thomas’ military service into question. I believe that the statements in the article indicating that the Pentagon was unable to verify Thomas’ military service combined with the “possible explanation” that Thomas was a civilian employee or that he served as a CIC translator or investigator have the effect of leading a reader to the erroneous conclusion that he was not a CIC Special Agent.
    4. I was a Agent of the United States Army CIC in 1945. At that time, I was stationed in Ulm, Germany in CIC Detachment 970/35. Thomas joined our unit under the sponsorship of Lt. Ernest Gearheart. Lt. Gearheart left for the United States shortly after bringing Thomas to our unit. Lt. Gearheart passed away last year. Thomas stayed with our unit after Lt. Gearheart’s departure. I worked closely with Thomas within the CIC for approximately 15 months. Thomas operated as a full-fledged CIC Special Agent, not as a civilian employee, translator or investigator.
    5. During several periods in 1945-1946, I was interim head of the Ulm CIC due to personnel changes. During the fall of 1945, Thomas joined our unit. In that position, I was required to make both weekly and monthly reports to our regional offices in Goppingen and Stuttgart. I included Thomas’ activities in those reports. In those reports, I expressly referred to Thomas crucial assistance to our unit, including his ability to connect us to his well-placed informant network and his total dedication to the mission of CIC. In reports I received from headquarters, there was often high praise for Thomas’ activities and participation. In light of those reports, it is beyond dispute that those in charge of the United States CIC regional headquarters were fully aware of Thomas’ participation in our unit.
    6. On or about October 2, 1946, I wrote a letter commending Mr. Thomas’ work with our unit. The letter was written on the stationery of my CIC Unit. A true and correct copy of that letter is attached to this declaration as Exhibit “ ”. As stated in my letter, “Mr. Thomas was a noteworthy addition to the Ulm organization.” That statement was accurate when I wrote it in 1946 and as of this date, neither my opinion nor my recollection has changed.
    7. At the time of Thomas’ arrival, our primary mission was to combat enemy terrorism, sabotage and subversion. We were also charged with the task of uncovering former high-ranking Nazi political and military individuals. I was impressed by Thomas’ keen ability as an interrogator, among other skills he had as an Intelligence Agent. In many ways, he was better at counter-intelligence and interrogation than most of the American born agents.
    8. Of the various operations that Thomas participated in during his work as a CIC agent, I can confirm that he spearheaded the arrest and capture of SS Major Gustav Knittel. Major Knittel confessed to ordering the murder of unarmed American prisoners of war in the Malmedy-Stavelot area in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison at a war crimes trial held in Dachau in May 1946. I was with Michel Thomas when he captured Major Knittel, who had emerged from hiding to rendezvous with his wife in an isolated home near Ulm in January 1946.
    9. Further, Thomas’ participation in the French Resistance is unquestionable. I visited the Grenoble area of France with Thomas in 1946. During our visit it was clear to me that he was both familiar with and revered by the Maquis in France. During our visit, Thomas introduced me to a number of his former maquisards, all of whom appeared delighted to be reunited with him.
    10. Given the nature of the work of the CIC, it was not our practice to wear uniforms with insignias, or to question (or rely on) the rank of persons within the unit. CIC agents did wear U.S. Military officers’ uniforms, however those uniforms did not indicate the rank of the officer wearing the uniform. The absence of rank insignia indicated to military personnel that the wearer was a CIC agent. Special Agent Thomas and I both wore this uniform, without rank insignia, at various times during our CIC service. In Thomas’ case, this was for 2 ½ years. At times, the nature of our work required wearing civilian clothes.
    11. In November 1946, I participated with Michel Thomas in a “sting” operation in Ulm, Germany to infiltrate an underground SS organization that was working to undermine German denazification and the U.S. Military government. During this operation, I secretly taped Thomas’s initial meetings with several former Nazi SS and SD officers. At the meetings, Thomas posed as a “Dr. Frundsberg”, the RSHA leader of a so-called “Grossorganization,” an umbrella organization purportedly coordinating a national underground movement. The operation had persuaded these former SS and SD officers that “Dr. Frundsberg” was the leader of a national organization of a much higher level than their own. At the meeting that I taped, Thomas persuaded the SS and SD officers to turnover control of their organization to the phony “Grossorganization” of which “Dr. Frundsberg” was head. Thomas’ efforts, along with those of other members of our CIC detachment, ultimately led to the convictions of six members of this resistance movement, on charges of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the Allied military government.
    12. I was not with Thomas during the liberation of Dachau. However, at the time that Thomas served in our CIC unit, I did see Thomas’ original photographs of Dachau that he took on the day of liberation. The images portrayed in the photographs included stacks of human remains, emaciated bodies and crematoriums. I have copies of those photographs, given to me by Thomas in 1946, in my possession.
    13. I relayed all of this information to Mr. Rivenburg prior to the publication of the article. I was surprised that none of this information appeared in the Article, including the fact that Mr. Rivenburg had interviewed me, particularly since I believe that I am one of the only living witnesses who is able to corroborate Michel Thomas’ CIC service.
    14. I do not understand why Mr. Rivenburg or the Los Angeles Times decided to ignore the information I provided to them. The absence of this information implies that Mr. Rivenburg was intent on discrediting Mr. Thomas, despite clear evidence I provided to them about his military service.
    15. I was so upset by Mr. Rivenburg’s depiction of Mr. Thomas as someone who would misrepresent his military service that I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times. A true and correct copy of that letter is attached hereto as Exhibit “ ”.

    I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Connecticut and the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed December 14,2001 at Cheshire, Connecticut.


  33. Alex Kline says:

    Or, how about the letter sent to the Army by Bedford Groves, in support of the application I submitted on behalf of Michel Thomas for the Silver Star he’d been nominated for, 59 years before?

    When Thomas was awarded the medal, Groves traveled from his home in his wheel-chair, with his German-born wife, to attend the ceremony at the WWII Memorial, a few days before its official dedication.

    Here’s what Mr. Groves had to say:

    March 4, 2003
    U.S. Total Army Personnel Command
    200 Stovall Street
    Alexandria, VA 22332-0471
    DSN: 221-8700 COML: (703) 325-8700

    RE: 1944 Nomination for Silver Star for Michel Thomas

    Dear Commander:

    Recently I learned that my former comrade in the 180th Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division, Mr. Michel Thomas, has been recommended by Henry Teichmann, another member of our regiment, for the Silver Star award. Captain Martin Schroeder recommended Mr. Thomas for this award in late 1944.

    I was myself a corporal during the time of the battle of Autrey, France, in September 1944, and knew Mr. Thomas and Captain Martin Schroeder during this time. I later worked with Mr. Thomas again in the Counter Intelligence Corps in Germany after the war ended. I can confirm that he was in combat intelligence in the 180th Regiment, and that he served with distinction both there and in the Counter Intelligence Corps.

    In the 180th Regiment, Mr. Thomas performed superbly doing combat intelligence work, and his knowledge of numerous languages proved an invaluable asset. I also know that he led patrols into enemy territory at great personal risk.

    When I knew him in the Counter Intelligence Corps, for a couple of years after the war ended, Mr. Thomas also performed with distinction; it is fair to say that he single-handedly did the work of several Agents.

    I hope that you will favorably consider Mr. Thomas for this award, for which he was nominated so many years ago.


    Bedford J. Groves

  34. Alex Kline says:

    Or, how about what Dr. Kraus had to say in his letter to the Los Angeles Times, submitted after Roy Rivenburg’s article was published in April 2001?

    Here’s the text of that letter, only a small portion of which was published by the Times:

    April 18, 2001

    To the Editor:

    Re: “Larger than Life”, Southern California Living, April 15, 2001.

    Mr. Rivenburg located me a month ago in Connecticut and asked me about my recollections of Michel Thomas in the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). At that time I sensed where he was headed with his review of Chris Robbins’ book, “Test of Courage”. However, I was unaware of the extent to which Mr. Rivenburg had already probed into the life and times of Michel Thomas, the subject of the book. In reading his investigative report, “Larger than Life”, I was taken aback by his almost demeaning, yet cleverly constructed, criticism. The review invites a rebuttal and, thus, for the record and your readers, I recount my experiences with Michel Thomas from 1945-1947.

    My initial contact with him was in Ulm, Germany, in late 1945 when he joined our CIC unit. He came in under the sponsorship of Lt. E. Gearhart, who was shortly to return to the United States. I was not interested in Thomas’ status or rank, nor did I give it serious consideration. We worked together closely on and off for 15 months. At that time the CIC’s primary mission was the combating of enemy terrorism, sabotage, and subversion. In addition, we had the task of uncovering former high-ranking Nazi political and military “big-wigs”, who made up part of the “automatic arrest” category. Later, when Nazi resistance remained docile and dormant, our focus was the embryonic “cold war” and local communist activity. As a result of my weekly and monthly reports our regional offices in Goppingen and Stuttgart became fully aware of Michel Thomas’ crucial services, his informant network, and his total dedication to the CIC mission; and they responded frequently with high praise for his activities.

    During our collaborative period, Michel mentioned to me his entry into Dachau and the horrific conditions he experienced there. He showed me original photos of the stacks of human remains, emaciated bodies, and walking ghosts. I have copies of these originals in my home. He also remarked to me that he was involved in the rescue of vital Nazi documents, including membership lists, in Munich.

    During my phone conversation with Mr. Rivenburg I disclosed several key events that are beyond dispute. Thomas’ persistence and vigilance resulted in our capture of SS Major Knittel, a priority war criminal who was implicated in the massacre of American soldiers in the Malmedy-Stavelot area in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Also, while in France with Thomas in 1946, we visited the Grenoble area. The facts of his association with and leadership in the Maquis in France were also verifiable. During our stay he introduced me to a number of his former maquisards, who were delighted to be reunited with him.

    It is interesting that Mr. Rivenburg does not even mention, much less challenge, or downplay in his highly skeptical fashion, Michel Thomas’ post war success in infiltrating the remnants of the former SS. Shortly before I was transferred to another CIC unit I aided him in recording a series of interrogations he conducted posing as a neo-resistance leader. I later learned several members of this group were arrested.

    “Test of Courage” by Christopher Robbins, also author of “The Ravens” (a tale of a shadow U.S. operation in Vietnam), is a vibrant treatment of a Jewish man’s instinct for survival and struggle against the power of tyranny. We should be grateful to Michel Thomas and others like him who arrived in this country and enriched it with their experiences, knowledge, and teaching.

    Yes, Mr. Rivenburg, some people just happen to be more unique than others and “larger than life”. You could have better served your newspaper and readers by probing the more challenging question of why this is so.

    Theodore C. Kraus, Ph.D.

  35. Alex Kline says:

    Speaking of Letters-to-the-Editor, the Times did publish one that seemed to support Mr. Rivenburg’s article, by one Mac McCormick, but McCormick said it was published without his knowledge or consent, and submitted a sworn affidavit to that effect to the Court. I wonder how that letter got into the paper? Has the LA Times ever investigated this issue?

    Here’s the affidavit:


    I, Conrad R. McCormick, declare and state as follows:

    1. I am an Archivist at the U.S. Army Intelligence Museum in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. I also served as an Agent in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps. I have personal knowledge of the facts set forth herein, and, if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto.

    2. Sometine prior to April 15, 2001, I was contacted by Mr. Roy Rivenburg, who identified himself as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, regarding the article he was writing about Michel Thomas. I spoke to Mr. Rivenburg by telephone and also exchanged e-mail correspondence with him regarding Mr. Thomas and CIC. I was quoted in the article about Mr. Thomas that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 15, 2001.

    3. On May 7, 2001, the Los Angeles Times published a Letter to the Editor in the newspaper’s “Letters” column, with my name as the writer of that letter. The letter was signed “C.R. “Mac” McCormick, Sierra Vista, Ariz.” To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person with that name in Sierra Vista, Arizona. A true and correct copy of that Letter to the Editor is attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”

    4. I did not write any letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times. I recognize some of the contents of the letter published with my name as text from e-mail correspondence that I exchanged with Mr. Rivenburg, in the course of our contact regarding his inquiries for the article. However, it is not my practice to write letters to the editor, and whatever words of mine that appeared in the alleged Letter to the Editor attached hereto as Exhibit “A” were not written to Mr. Rivenburg or the Los Angeles Times, with the intent that they would be published as a letter to the editor.

    I declare under penalty of perjury pursuant to the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed 8 January, 2001 at Sierra Vista, Arizona.

    Signed: [Signature of Conrad R. McCormick]

  36. Alex Kline says:

    Roy Rivenburg wrote: “Wilson wasn’t a pencil pusher, Miss Nico. He was the special agent in charge of Thomas and Kraus and therefore in a position to know Thomas’ official status.”

    The Wilson Mr. Rivenburg refers to here is Col. Wilson Gibson, who was indeed Michel Thomas’s commander in the CIC. They were very close friends, and Michel Thomas visited Col. Gibson, an attorney, at his home in New Orleans after the war. Gibson went into Dachau with Michel Thomas on April 29, 1945. His widow sent me photos he kept from the day of liberation.

    Unfortunately, Wilson died in 1947 of appendicitis. He was not around to sign any affidavits like Walter Wimer or Bedford Groves or Theodore Kraus. But his widow, Roma Gibson, who fondly recalled Michel Thomas’s visit in 1947, and knew a great deal about Michel from her husband, was more than happy to sign the letter of protest to the LA Times, asking them to set the record straight and publish an article correcting the defamatory implications of Mr. Rivenburg’s article.

    More than 500 people have signed that letter, to date, including more than 130 members of Michel Thomas’s 45th Infantry divisional association, as well dozens of prominent persons from the fields of the arts, business, academia, and government.

    One of them Flint Whitlock, knows a few things about WWII and the 45th Division. He published “Rock of Anzio,” widely considered to be the definitive account of the Allied landings at Anzio Italy in 1943.

    Here are some of the others:

    Mortimer B. Zuckerman, New York, NY (Owner, US News & World Report, New York Daily News) (sent signed card)

    Emma Thompson, Beverly Hills, CA (Actress) (sent signed card and unsolicited donation)

    Walter Wimer, Ann Arbor, MI (former WWII Counter Intelligence Corps colleague of Michel Thomas) (sent signed card)

    Charles H. Morin, Washington, DC (Attorney, Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky) (sent signed card)

    Bruce Karatz, Chairman, Kaufman & Broad Construction, (emailed letter)

    Leonard Horwin, Los Angeles, CA (Former Mayor of Beverly Hills, Attorney)

    Dr. Ted Kraus, Cheshire, Connecticut (former CIC colleague of Michel Thomas)

    Dr. Sidney Harman, Washington, DC (Chairman, Harman International)

    Henry Teichmann, (former 1st Lt., 45th Infantry Division,1st Battalion, 180th Infantry, served with Michel Thomas in WWII)

    Kate Parkin, London, England Managing Director, Random House UK

    Herbert Morris, Los Angeles, CA (former Dean of Humanities, UCLA)

    Roma Gibson, New Orleans, Louisiana (wife of Col. Wilson Gibson, former Army colleague of Michel Thomas)

    Doris White, Boston, Massachusetts, (wife of Frederick White, former CIC colleague of Michel Thomas)

    Serge Klarsfeld, Paris, France (Attorney and noted Nazi-hunter)

    Sidney Sheldon, Hollywood, CA (Writer) (sent signed card)

    Charles Fawcett, London, England (Publisher) (sent signed card)

    Alan Wherry, New York, NY (Publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing) (sent signed card)

    Larry Collins, La Biche Niche, France, Author “Is Paris Burning?” (sent signed card)

    Harry W. Barnes, Tishomingo, Oklahoma (Brig. General, Ret’d, 45th Infantry Division, US Army) (sent signed card)

    Carl Reiner, Los Angeles, CA (Actor, Writer, Director, Producer) (sent signed card)

    Walter J.P. Curley, New York, NY / U.S. Ambasador to France, 1989-1993, (sent signed card)

    Sir Martin & Sandra Sorrell, London, England, (Mr. Sorrell is CEO of London-based WPP Advertising & Public Relations, sent signed card)

    Raquel Welch, Actress, (sent signed card & personal letter of support)

    Ernest W. Michel, Emeritus Executive Vice-President, United Jewish Appeal of New York (sent signed card & personal letter)

    Robert F. Agostinelli, Chairman, Rhone Group, Paris, France, (sent signed card)
    209) Margit Sperling Cotsen, Beverly Hills, CA (sent signed card & unsolicited donation)

    Kevin Kline (Actor), attended Silver Star ceremony in New York in July 2004, wrote personal appeal on behalf of Michel Thomas

    Warren Beatty, (Actor, Director, Producer), wrote personal appeal on behalf of Michel Thomas

  37. nico says:

    Mr. Kline, it is so good to see you here. I guess you beat me to it, but I was going to reply to Mr. Rivenburg the next:

    In the reaserch I have been doing regarding my father’s service, there was a conlict between what I knew, (that he was a Captain in the Army Intelligence) and the papers that I recieved which indicated that he was a Staff Sergeant. I spoke with one of the experts in NARA, and OFF THE RECORD I was told the next: members would have several ranks, as well as use several names. As both of you must know, I have no reason to lie over here, nor did the researcher at NARA.

    Also I could imagine thousands of reasons why someone who had to pose as a German would have to try to hide their real function as an intel member (The most clear case today would be Valerie Plame and the controversy whether she was NOC, Covert or not. That is one of the reasons I would like to have those that were in the trenches day in and day out with MR Thomas, confirm he was not a CIC agent

    As for the use of uniforms by civilian assistants, that issue will be resolved in the near future. I have spoken to someone in the DOD, a resercher and Historian who is an expert there, an will call him in the near future, and have definite proof one way or the other.

  38. justthefactsmam says:


    I’m not sure what a DOD researcher or historian could add that would be more authoritative than a sworn Declaration from someone who was there, working as a CIC Agent in WWII.

  39. nico says:

    You are right about that.

    Since you are here, I am trying to add your blog to a blog roll.

  40. roy rivenburg says:

    Yeah, don’t check with DOD, Nico. They might also inform you it is IMPOSSIBLE for someone to have been an Army officer or full-fledged CIC agent yet not have a military ID number or discharge papers. Anyone who doesn’t have those two items was a civilian employee. All the sworn affidavits on the planet cannot change that simple reality.
    And, note to Alex: I wasn’t referring to Col. Wilson Gibson. I was referring to A.N. Wilson. Also, if you think Thomas’ signature was forged on the document I have, then perhaps he didn’t arrest Gustav Knittel after all, since the document he signed was Knittel’s arrest report.

  41. nico says:

    So what you are saying is that the army allowed the impersonation of a military officer? By the way, you have been challanged again . Go to the front page.

  42. Alex Kline says:

    Mr. Rivenburg:
    You may feel that by constantly hammering away at one isolated fact or document that you can discredit Michel Thomas, as you have been trying to do for over six years, for reasons that still elude me, as your other writings don’t suggest you are so nasty or malicious. If I knew nothing else about you other than what you’ve written for the LA Times — aside from your mean-spirited profile of Michel Thomas — I’d think you were an occasionally amusing and not particularly vicious writer.
    I have asked you, many times for many years, to meet with me and discuss this matter, at a place and time of your choosing. You have refused.
    You have found your way to this web site, and have had no luck persuading Mr. deKoenigsberg here.
    So, I have to wonder, who ARE you trying to persuade? And by what measure will you ever be satisfied that you have been successful at your project of — pick your verb — diminishing, discrediting, destroying, demolishing — the reputation of a now-deceased man, born in Poland to Jewish parents, whose family was murdered at Auschwitz when he was a young man, who miraculously survived the most brutal extermination program in human history, then made his way to the fighting forces of the USA where he was warmly welcomed and had his contributions highly praised by all his colleagues and superiors, and then, finally, at age 90, had his courageous service conspicuously recognized at the highest levels of both the American and French governments?
    It’s hard to think of an appropriate analogy. Perhaps it’s a bit like saying Charles Lindbergh may have flown the Atlantic solo, but lacked a pilot’s license, and so has no legitimate claim to having been a pilot, so why does he deserve so much praise?
    Why are you so invested in this? To “honor the true heroes,” as you’ve said elsewhere? If every single surviving person who fought with Michel Thomas over six decades ago is eager to rise to his defense against your onslaught, including those who had no connection or communication with him during those years, exactly whose “honor” are you defending? Those whose contributions would somehow be diminished because Michel Thomas was not sufficiently “official” to meet your standards? Who are these people? Perhaps I can help you put them in touch with Ted Kraus, Walter Wimer, Bedford Groves, Henry Teichmann, et al., to whom they can express their disapproval directly.
    Or perhaps they would not be interested in such an exchange.
    As you can see from their affidavits and letters, posted here today, posted at michelthomas.org five years ago, and submitted in Federal court six years ago, none of the people who worked with Michel Thomas cared a whit about whether he was “official” or not. As far as I can tell, you’re the only person on the face of the earth who cares about this. The officers on the Army’s Decorations Review Board, who granted Michel the Silver Star in 2004, did not care. Former Senator Bob Dole, a badly wounded WWII Vet, did not care. Nor did his colleague and fellow WWII vet Senator John Warner, or Senator McCain, or Senator Max Cleland, or Rep. Carolyn Maloney, or the Ambassador of France, or the hundreds of people who wrote to the LA Times on Michel’s behalf, including the many notables listed above.
    Mr. Rivenburg, even if you’re correct in every thin, technical assertion you’ve made to discredit Michel Thomas, none of it matters to anyone but you, and perhaps some of your relatives and friends. Show us the outrage, where are the people who feel you’ve done a public service by “debunking” Michel Thomas? And, if you can cough up a few examples, please be sure to provide some information about their backgrounds and any connection they may have to you.

  43. nico says:

    Mr Rivenburg, how do you expect anyone to accept your arguments if you constantly refuse to answer Mr Kline? It is evident you don’t want to, but you could at least explain why.

  44. facts says:


    Mr. Rivenburg has made numerous posts here, attacking Michel Thomas. He clearly has not persuaded you. Elsewhere, he has engaged in furious postings on the subject, e.g. at http://www.laobserved.com, and at http://www.michelthomas.org, and on his wikipedia entry about Mr. Thomas.

    Roy Rivenburg clearly wants someone to decide who’s right about Michel Thomas, and whether his article was a fair, balanced, and accurate profile.

    So, why not ask him whom he would agree to have act as an arbiter of this matter? Someone with a knowledge of journalism, law, WWII history, CIC history, or other applicable fields?

    Keep in mind, this has been done before. In April 2003 there was a mock trial of this case, sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley’s schools of Law and Journalism.

    Mr. Rivenburg and his attorneys were invited to show up at this neutral forum, and present their case to a panel of disinterested law professors and First Amendment specialist attorneys.

    Not only did they refuse to participate, in the case of Rivenburg, he lied to reporters who called him prior to the mock trial and claimed he was never invited. Yet there was a trail of faxes, emails, and signed-for Fedexes that were sent to Rivenburg, his editors, and his attorneys, weeks in advance of the mock trial. All of this is thoroughly documented.

    But, since Mr. Rivenburg still seems desperate to discredit Mr. Thomas, more than two years after his death, I propose that this matter be arbitrated once again.

    I could appear on one side. On the other, Roy Rivenburg. Ideally, a panel of three arbitrators, but if necessary, one or two. Both sides to agree on the choice of arbitrator(s) beforehand.

    The arbitration could be handled entirely online, with each side presenting the facts and evidence in turn.

    What do you think?

  45. nico says:

    To be honest I think it is a gret idea. Hopefully Mr Rivenburg will come back here, and accept this

  46. Roy Rivenburg says:

    Roy Rivenburg writes: “I’m unclear on what there is to debate.”
    [Responses from Alex Kline shown in italics, in brackets]
    1. Regarding Thomas’ claim to have been a U.S. Army officer instead of a civilian, the issue boils down to a simple question: Was Thomas ever inducted? The answer, as Mr. Kline has acknowledged in other forums, is no. Case closed. Being in the Army is like being pregnant. You either are, or you aren’t. There’s no gray area. Is Thomas’ official status a minor technicality? Thomas didn’t think so. Rather than simply acknowledge he was a civilian who was treated like a full-fledged agent, he sued The Times for implying he wasn’t inducted.
    [Thomas never claimed he was inducted, as Rivenburg has repeatedly insisted. As has been pointed out ad nauseam, and is amply documented by his wartime CIC colleagues testimony, Thomas had the possibly unique distinction of being given all the powers and duties of a CIC Agent, wearing the CIC Agent uniform, and carrying out remarkable operations as an Agent from 1945 to 1947, despite his status as a foreign national — in fact, his nationality was technically non-existent, he was a stateless Jew who had miraculously survived in Hitler’s Reich since 1939, living on the run and working in the French resistance and serving with American troops. Read the statements of his wartime comrades Ted Kraus, Bedford Groves, and Walter Wimer posted here and elsewhere, look at the photos of him in the biography, read the sections of the CIC’s official history mentioning “Agent Thomas” and his colleague Frederick White, whose widow sent me photos of them together in their CIC Agent uniforms. The evidence is overwhelming. But Roy still hangs on to the phony assertion of an induction ceremony as indisputable evidence.
    Michel Thomas’s CIC superiors wisely put him to use as an Agent without shipping him back for a pointless induction ceremony stateside, and he produced fantastic results that his aging comrades still found remarkable nearly six decades later.]

    2. Re Dachau, Thomas’ own biographer admitted the story of Thomas accompanying the 3rd battalion into the camp was erroneous. Likewise, the commander of that battalion and a leading Dachau researcher both said there was no way Thomas accompanied that unit as it entered the camp. Yet Thomas gave a sworn deposition that he DID accompany the 3rd battalion. If Mr. Kline is now agreeing with Thomas’ deposition, that is a reversal of his previous statements. Until now, everyone has agreed that Thomas was NOT with the 3rd battalion.
    [Another example of Mr. Rivenburg’s willful avoidance of the truth, and furious attachment to a red-herring issue. He knows perfectly well that as a CIC Agent, Michel did not have to be attached to any infantry troops in order to enter Dachau on April 29, 1945. Michel did not know or care in 1945, or 55 years later, what the regiment number was of the infantry troops that went in that day. His biographer admitted this minor error in correspondence with Rivenburg prior to publication of his article, but Rivenburg has held on to this irrelevant shard like a drowning man holding on to a piece of flotsam in the sea. Rivenburg meanwhile continues to refuse to acknowledge the raft of evidence that Thomas was a Dachau liberator: his possession of photos and negatives taken at the liberation, verified by the Dachau Museum’s curator Barbara Distel; Thomas’s possession of the original signed statement of Emil Mahl, the ‘hangman of Dachau,’ whom Michel arrested two days after the liberation in a town near Dachau — and extensive documentation from the National Archives of this arrest, acknowledged by Mahl himself in correspondence from Landsberg prison.
    In fact, this and other evidence was so overwhelming that when I showed it to Rivenburg’s own sources Felix Sparks and Hugh Foster in 2002, they recanted their published statements about Michel in signed statements they gave to me, which are posted at Michel Thomas org. (see Sparks, Foster, Distel letters)

    3. Re Klaus Barbie, whether you believe Thomas’ version of events or not, it’s a fact that Barbie’s prosecutor asked the jury to disregard Thomas’ testimony and said in the Oscar-winning documentary “Hotel Terminus” that he did so because Thomas’ story was “inconsistent.” It’s also a fact that Thomas’ testimony was contradicted by another witness and was mocked by the French press, but backed up by other experts. All the Los Angeles Times article did was point out that Thomas had supporters and detractors at Barbie’s trial. That’s a matter of record and there’s nothing to debate.
    [More willful avoidance of the truth Mr. Rivenburg. As you well know, Michel Thomas was upset about the exclusion of his testimony and Barbie’s prosecutor Pierre Truche agreed to meet with him after the trial in his office in Paris. As described on page 313 of “Test of Courage” Truche told Michel that as he listened to the evidence he was reminded of the line by the 17th century poet Nicolas Boileau: “Le vrai peut quelquefois n’etre pas vraisemblable”, “The truth can sometimes not be likely.”
    A more nuanced translation would be “Sometimes true stories seem hard to believe.” What is not conveyed is that Michel Thomas stood out as a witness because he was not simply a victim, but also someone who was a leader in the Resistance. In order for the jury to understand why he was at the UGIF that day, he had to explain to the jury that he was not only a Resistant, but that he had fooled Barbie by pretending not to know German when all the others who had shown up did speak German.
    Thomas’s experience in the Barbie trial parallels his experience as the target of your article: having lived an improbable life, he was dismissed as too unlikely to be true, and never given an opportunity to present the evidence of his own past. Though he brought documentation with him of his time served in Vichy slave labor and deportation camps, and of his Resistance work, he was never given an opportunity to present it. Nor was he given the opportunity, as he expected from American court procedures, to confront the defendant in the courtroom: Barbie exercised his right under French law to sit out the trial in an apartment near the courtroom where he did not have to face either the jury or his prosecutors.
    Pierre Truche never said he thought Michel Thomas’s testimony was untruthful. You have characteristically seized upon and quoted second-hand newspaper accounts, some of doubtful accuracy, or snippets of dialogue from a movie, rather than going to original sources, to put Michel Thomas in the worst possible light. Why didn’t you in 2001, or don’t you now, find Pierre Truche and ask him directly if he thought Michel Thomas was a liar?]

    4. Regarding the Nazi Party membership files, Thomas claimed he caused worldwide press coverage of the files in June 1945 and that his superiors moved the files to a safe location AT THAT TIME. Both claims are absolutely and irrefutably false. The 7th Army, which Thomas worked for, left town and “abandoned” the files at the paper mill, according to military records. Moreover, there was no press coverage until October 1945, when the 3rd Army called a press conference. The 1945 newspaper articles make it clear, with words and photographs, that the real rescuer of the files was paper mill owner Hans Huber, and that the 7th Army did nothing to ensure the safety of the files. Again, this information isn’t debatable. It’s fact.
    [Thomas never claimed “worldwide press coverage,” but the real problem is that, as you have done repeatedly since 2001, you ignore the mass of evidence that disproves your point of view about Michel Thomas, while harping myopically on irrelevant details. You also seem to believe that newspaper accounts, which are secondary sources of information, trump first-hand sources such as contemporaneous official documentation, or physical evidence, such as the documents from the paper mill which Michel Thomas kept to the end his life.
    As you know, Thomas claimed he was the original rescuer of the files at the paper mill in Freimann, Germany during the final days of the war. Your article suggested that this was a fabrication. Your citation of newspaper articles from late 1945 is hardly the last word on what happened in the chaos of Munich in the first week of May 1945, yet you continue to ignore all the evidence you’ve been shown that contradicts your view. The one consistent pattern is that you accept and insist on the “absolute and indisputable” truth of any facts, no matter how insignificant, that you can employ to suggest Michel Thomas was a liar, while ignoring the far larger set of facts that corroborate his accounts — even when the best experts agree that the latter set of facts is more credible.
    I found extensive documentary evidence at the National Archives supporting Thomas’s version, and showed it to Robert Wolfe, the leading expert at the National Archives on captured German war documents. Wolfe wrote a detailed, scholarly monograph reviewing the evidence, and concluded Thomas was the original rescuer of the files. His paper is posted at Michel Thomas org (see Robert Wolfe letter) I suggest you read it. Wolfe’s conclusion was further endorsed by Gregory Gordon, a career prosecutor of Nazi war criminals from the U.S. Justice department, in a January 2006 article in the U.S. Attorney’s Bulletin, “Taking the Paper Trail Instead of Memory Lane: OSI’s Use of Ancient Foreign Documents in the Nazi Cases.” Readers of this exchange can decide if a soon-to-be-unemployed humor columnist from Orange County has greater expertise to assess these historical facts than Mr. Wolfe or Mr. Gordon.]

  47. facts says:

    Mr. Rivenburg:

    You have posted several comments in response to the postings above, which the web site administrator is evaluating. However, before we spend any more time in what appears to be a highly repetitive and circular debate, can you propose the name of a moderator, ideally three of them, whom we could agree on, so that we can submit our respective sides of this debate to someone qualified to evaluate it?

    If you do so, I will come up with my own list as well. Then we can each pick one, and try to agree on a third as a tiebreaker.

    I suggest persons with a background in journalism, WWII history, and law, who can render a judgment as to whether your original article, and your conduct since it was published and you were shown the evidence proffered in the lawsuit and afterwards, meets the standards of fairness, accuracy, and balance in the Los Angeles Times code of ethics.

    As you know, Journalism Professor Sherrie Mazingo of the University of Minnesota was a qualified expert in federal court, who rendered an opinion on these issues in 2001.

    I will quote from her Declaration, in pertinent part:

    “The reporter Rivenburg chose to disregard documentation that could have verified information that he presented in his story as lacking credibility. But what is perhaps most grievously unethical about the article ‘Larger Than Life’ is the overwhelming presence of editorialising, bias, superfluous information and cheap shots… the reporter woefully fails to meet the ethical standards of fairness and balance.”

  48. nico says:

    Mr Rivenburg, I have a problem with what you wrote:

    The report said American intelligence officials hired Barbie in 1947 because they didn’t know about his Gestapo past. Thomas criticized the department’s report on Barbie’s role as a post-war spy for the U.S. Thomas said that statement was false because he had written a memo in 1945, while working with the Counter Intelligence Corps, identifying Barbie as a former Gestapo

    I took this from NARA:

    This HICOG [U.S. High Commission for Germany] Barbie five-folder file contains copies with translations of the contemporaneous and postwar French reports of atrocities committed by Barbie, and of numerous signed originals of the futile French applications for his extradition, as well as the background correspondence and draft copies of evasive HICOG replies….
    …This includes his arrest at Gross Gerau by American forces at the turn of the year 1945, and his release in January. Early in 1946, he was a paid informant for the CIC detachment operating in the Kassel-Marburg-Fulda area. In November 1946, he was the object of futile solicitation and consequent arrest by British intelligence in Hamburg

    Or this :

    A CIC memo contains details of Barbie’s 1946 escape from custody. A memo describes Barbie’s alleged activities in the 1946-47 period, including his travels in Germany, his contacts with various Germans and his alleged involvement in a jewel theft and the black market. A copy of an Allied Control Authority Central Registry of War Criminal and Security Suspects want list naming Klaus Barbie as wanted by France for murder. Information from the French Embassy and the Department of State, showing that the French persisted in their attempts to secure Barbie’s surrender

    To assume that the CIC did not know of Barbie’s past, is at the least naive. Especially since the French had been requesting his extradition. As a matter of fact, the US thought that the proof against Barbie was inconclusive, but they sure had an idea of who Barbie was.
    You should be a little more thorough
    Notice how many times Barbie escaped from American and British forces. If it was possible for Barbie to escape so many times, then wasn’t it possible for Mr. Thomas to do the same???

  49. Alex Kline says:


    Rivenburg “Supporters”:

    The following have been cited by Roy Rivenburg as “supporters” of his published assertions, pre- and posthumously, that Michel Thomas was a liar and a fraud who exaggerated or fabricated significant facts about his WWII service:

    1) “a U.S. Justice Department former chief Nazi hunter” (Allan Ryan)
    2) “an Oscar-winning documentary” (Hotel Terminus by Marcel Ophuls)
    3) “The Los Angeles Times” (Rivenburg’s paper)
    4) “Le Monde” (French newspaper whose 1987 article parenthetically mentioned Thomas’ testimony against Klaus Barbie)
    5) “Newsday” (sister newspaper to LA Times, owned by Tribune Group of Chicago)
    6) “the prosecutor at Klaus Barbie’s trial” (French prosecutor Pierre Truche)
    7) John Carroll (former LA Times editor who made public comments supporting Rivenburg in February 2004);
    8) WWII comrades who served with Michel Thomas (NONE)

    –Allan Ryan’s 1983 report, “Klaus Barbie and the United States Government: A Report to the Attorney General of the United States” regarding the role of US intelligence agencies in protecting known war-criminal Klaus Barbie when they used him as a postwar “asset,” had been criticized publicly by Thomas. Ryan responded to those criticisms in a 1983 press conference. After their public confrontation about Barbie, Ryan and Thomas communicated privately and reached an amicable understanding. Ryan was not contacted or interviewed for Rivenburg’s 2001 article.

    — Thomas was referred to in less than 20 seconds of Marcel Ophuls’ 1988 film “Hotel Terminus” as one of several witnesses against Barbie. Ophuls was not contacted by Rivenburg for his 2001 profile of Thomas.
    — a 1987 Le Monde article parenthetically commented that Thomas’s testimony against Barbie displayed “un goût trop prononcé de paraitre, de multiplier les détails.” Rivenburg quoted French historian Henri Rousso as stating that this Le Monde quote meant “a taste for make-believe” rather than the more accurate “a taste for emphasizing too much, of offering too many details.” Contacted after Rivenburg’s profile was published, Rousso stated he was not contacted by Rivenburg in 2001. Regarding the French history program from which Rivenburg lifted this quote, Rousso added, “”My problem was not to comment on the testimony itself but to explain the atmosphere during the trial.”

    — Pierre Truche met with Thomas in his office after the trial. He made it clear that he did not think Thomas had lied in his testimony, but said he excluded it because it was complex and unlikely. Truche said that as he listened to the evidence he was reminded of Boileau’s line: “Le vrai peut quelquefois n’etre pas vraisemblable” — “The truth can sometimes not be likely.” Truche was not contacted or interviewed for Rivenburg’s 2001 article.

    — re: Newsday: Rivenburg colleague and fellow Tribune-Group employee Ron Howell misleadingly quoted Thomas’s investigator in a July 2004 article after interviewing him at the New York ceremony in which Rep. Carolyn Maloney presented Thomas with the Silver Star. Alone amidst otherwise universally postive press coverage of a ninety year-old receiving the Silver Star sixty years after having been nominated for it, Howell’s article recycled Rivenburg’s alleged ‘controversy’ about Thomas’s official status. He did so by insinuating that the investigator’s “admission” Thomas was never inducted was proof Thomas had lied about his CIC service. He left out that the investigator made it clear that in Thomas’s biography and the entire record of his public statements on the subject Thomas never claimed he was inducted, but rather stated that he had the unusual status of having served as a full-fledged CIC Agent in 1945-47 despite not yet acquiring his US citizenship;

    — John Carroll was asked before a friendly audience in February 2004 at UC Berkeley, why he had never replied to the more than 400 letters he had been sent regarding the Times article about Thomas. His angry response indicated he did not know or recall fundamental aspects of Thomas’s recently-concluded defamation case against the Los Angeles Times, including the fact that Mr. Thomas’s biography was not an autobiography but was written by British author Christopher Robbins, that Thomas, not the author of the book, had sued the Times, and that the award of attorney’s fees in the case did not reflect a punitive decision by the judge, but rather was mandated by California’s anti-SLAPP statute. Nor did he mention that the Times attorneys were reprimanded by the judge for “rampant overbilling” and ordered to cut their fees nearly in half.

    Thomas Supporters:
    Public Officials & Institutions:

    1) Senator Bob Dole (R, KS), (pinned Silver Star on Thomas in May 2004 at US WWII Memorial)
    2) Senator John Warner (R, VA),(pinned Silver Star on Thomas in May 2004 at US WWII Memorial)
    3) Senator John McCain (R, AZ), (submitted 1944 Silver Star nomination & supporting documents to US Army)
    4) Senator Max Cleland (D, GA), (sent congratulatory note to Thomas in May 2004 calling him a “genuine hero”)
    5) U.S.Representative Carolyn Maloney (D,NY),(submitted 1944 Silver Star nomination & supporting documents to US Army: hosted July 2004 ceremony in New York City where she pinned Silver Star on Thomas at the Armory before an honor guard and Thomas’s friends and family)
    5) Ambassador of France Jean-David Levitte,(saluted Thomas as French Resistance fighter at May 2004 Silver Star ceremony);
    6) US Army Decorations Review Board (researched Thomas’s WWII service and 1944 nomination for Silver Star; granted Silver Star in May 2004);
    7) Robert Wolfe (National Archives WWII Captured German War documents expert, wrote monograph concluding Thomas rescued Nazi Party worldwide membership card file from destruction in May 1945. Wolfe also wrote about the role of American intelligence agencies, including the CIC, in protecting Barbie after the war here: http://www.archives.gov/iwg/research-papers/barbie-irr-file.html)
    8) U.S. Justice Dept. current “chief Nazi hunter,” Eli Rosenbaum, (head of Office of Special Investigations, attended 2004 Silver Star ceremony at WWII Memorial);
    9) U.S. Justice Dept. “Nazi hunter” Gregory Gordon (senior trial attorney, Office of Special Investigations, wrote article crediting Thomas with rescuing Nazi Party membership file in 1945, United States Attorney’s Bulletin, February 2006 “Taking the Paper Trail Instead of Memory Lane: OSI’s Use of Ancient Foreign Documents in the Nazi Cases” (http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usab5401.pdf) )
    10) U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (chief archivist and other museum leadership reviewed documents and photos Thomas took at liberation of Dachau, and interviewed him. The Museum publicly saluted Thomas as a Dachau liberator before a large crowd at its Memorial Day 2004 “Salute to Liberators”)

    WWII Comrades Who Served with Thomas:
    1) Dr. Theodore “Ted” Kraus(CIC colleague & commanding officer of Thomas; interviewed by Rivenburg but never mentioned in profile. Wrote letter complaining of this to LA Times and submitted sworn affidavit in Thomas’s defamation suit against LA Times stating, “I do not understand why Mr. Rivenburg or the Los Angeles Times decided to ignore the information I provided to them. The absence of this information implies that Mr. Rivenburg was intent on discrediting Mr. Thomas, despite clear evidence I provided him about Thomas’s military service.” Traveled from Connecticut home to California, Oklahoma, and Washington, DC to defend Thomas’ reputation and celebrate his receiving the Silver Star;

    2) Walter Wimer, (CIC colleague from WWII; filed sworn Declaration in Thomas’s defamation suit stating “the implication … that Michel Thomas was a civilian employee who merely worked as a translator or investigator inaccurately belittles Mr. Thomas’s service in the CIC … Mr. Thomas was sent out on missions by our commanding officers, in the same capacity and with the same duties and powers as the other Agents of our unit.”;

    3) Bedford Groves(CIC colleague and former 180th Regiment US Army comrade from WWII; submitted letter to US Army describing how Thomas “did the work of three [CIC] Agents.” Attended 2004 Silver Star ceremony in wheelchair.)

    4) Henry Teichmann: (180th Regiment US Army WWII comrade; wrote 1944 orders releasing Thomas for CIC service; met Thomas at 2002 Oklahoma City 45th Infantry Division reunion, submitted letter to US Army in support of 2003 application for Silver Star)
    All the sworn Declarations referred to above can be downloaded at http://www.michelthomas.org (Library section)

    Experts Quoted by Rivenburg in His Profile of Thomas:

    1) Felix Sparks (led troops of 157th Regiment that liberated Dachau; signed statement that Thomas could easily have been at Dachau liberation without his knowledge, contrary to Rivenburg’s quote in Thomas profile);

    2) Hugh Foster (expert on Dachau liberation; wrote detailed review of evidence Thomas was Dachau liberator, concluding he was one, and indicating Rivenburg may have misled him by withholding crucial evidence in order to elicit damaging quote);

    3) George Leaman(compiled 1994 inventory of the Berlin Document Center, quoted in Rivenburg article that Stefan Heym’s account of ’45 rescue of Nazi files was ‘more on the mark’ than Thomas’s; when interviewed in 2002, admitted he had not read Stefan Heym’s accounts of rescue of Nazi files for more than 8 years, could not find copy of same in his files, and said his assesment of Thomas’s account was based more on the biography’s ‘chummy accounts of womanizing’ than on a detailed review of evidence regarding the discovery of the Nazi files)

    4) Stefan Heym(US Army reporter in 1945 who later defected and became committed East German communist; stated in 2001 letter shortly before his death that he did not recall being contacted by Rivenburg, criticized “CIC boys and their ilk” in his response).

    5) Conrad “Mac” McCormick (US Army archivist and CIC expert; interviewed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ after being quoted in Rivenburg’s article, McCormick discovered mention of CIC “Agent Thomas” in the unpublished official history of the CIC which he was indexing. Signed sworn declararation in Thomas’s defamation suit stating that the LA Times published a “Letter-to-the-editor” from him, expressing approval of Rivenburg’s profile, even though he never wrote any such Letter-to-the-Editor to the Times);

    The letters from Sparks and Foster, and the signed McCormick Declaration, can be downloaded at http://www.michelthomas.org (Library section)

    Press and Broadcast Outlets:
    1) US Army News Service: (http://www.defendamerica.mil/profiles/may2004/pr052804b.html);
    2) CNN, Wolf Blitzer program: (Memorial Day 2004 broadcast re: Silver Star award, “Memories of War: WW II hero decorated 60 years later” ( http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/05/31/hero.decorated/index.html?iref=newssearch)
    3) French National News Service: (Memorial Day 2004 broadcast re: Silver Star award)
    4) Spanish National News Service: (Memorial Day 2004 broadcast re: Silver Star award)
    5) Fox News, Bill O’Reilly Report: (June 8, 2004 broadcast, ‘Unresolved Problems’ segment; O’Reilly: “If Dole and Warner give the guy a Silver Star two weeks ago, I don’t know. Last question, is there any reason to put this old guy through this? The guy looks like he’s a hero, he gets the Silver Star. Is there any reason on Earth?”
    6) Ha’aretz, Tom Segev: (“Moment of Truth for Michel Thomas” September 12, 2002; sample quote, “The Los Angeles Times reporter asked Thomas what color the party membership cards were – and Thomas did not remember. These cards were of a very special color, noted the reporter portentously.”)
    7) NBC Nightly News, hosted by Tom Brokaw(2004 taped segment by Mike Taibbi)

    1) 130+ veterans of the US Army’s 45th Infantry Division (sent signed cards protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times in 2002);
    2) Flint Whitlock, (author of “Rock of Anzio” about 45th Division landing in Italy in ’44), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
    3) Mortimer Zuckerman, (publisher US News & World Report, New York Daily News); sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
    4) Warren Beatty, (actor, former Thomas language student), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
    5) Raquel Welch,(actress, former Thomas language student), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
    6) Emma Thompson, (actress, former Thomas language student), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
    7) Kevin Kline, (actor), attended 2004 Silver Star award ceremony in NYC, saluted Thomas
    8) Walter Curley, (former US Ambassador); sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
    9) Serge Klarsfeld, (Parisian attorney and Nazi hunter); sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times

    10) Sherrie Mazingo (University of Minnesota Journalism professor and certfied expert witness in Federal defamation cases; wrote 2001 expert witness opinion stating that the article “fails the standards of accuracy, fairness, and balance” and “what is perhaps most grievously unethical about the article … is the overwhelming presence of editorializing, bias, superfluous information and cheap shots.”

    11) Herbert Morris, (former UCLA Law Professor and Dean of School of Humanities and Sciences; filed Declaration in defamation case stating that he spoke to Mr. Rivenburg prior to publication of his article and told him that he had “strong reservations about the motives of the Times in what appeared to me to be an attempt at an expose” and that “what Mr. Rivenburg and the Times were about to do was ‘tragic.’”

    12) Christopher Robbins, the author of Thomas’s 2000 biography “Test of Courage” recently re-published as “Courage Beyond Words:; outlined a wealth of documentation he presented to Mr. Rivenburg during lengthy correspondence prior to publication the article. Much of this was documentation already footnoted in his book. Filed sworn Declaration in Thomas’s defamation suit stating that Rivenburg “was not interested in reviewing any of my material. His only interest seemed to be locating information which could be used to discredit Michel and Michel’s credibility”, and, “From the start, it was clear to me that Mr. Rivenburg was intent on creating an issue where none existed.”

    13) Professor Robin T. Lakoff, (Dept. of Linguistics, University of California Berkeley; filed expert Declaration in defamation case. Regarding Rivenburg’s omission of the statements of Dr. Ted Kraus from his article, Prof. Lakoff stated, “Mr. Rivenburg’s deliberate omission of that material from the article represents a form of non-objectivity, a conscious choice of material in favor of that which represents Mr. Thomas badly, against that which represents him favorably … reportorial bias tending to cause a typical reader to disbelieve Michel Thomas can be discerned reliably not only from what is explicitly present in the story itself. It is also discerned in what is absent, that, in a truly objective report, ought to be present: statements from both sides.”
    The sworn Declarations of Morris, Mazingo, Robbins, Lakoff, and Michel Thomas can be downloaded at http://www.michelthomas.org (Library section)<br

    Plus hundreds of others, currently totaling more than 500 persons, who sent letters to the LA Times protesting Rivenburg’s article and asking the paper to correct the record. The Times has never replied to any of them.

  50. inglab says:

    Hallo, Nico! I wonder how this controversy ended? It was a real thriller for me to read your blog, all that I miss now is (hopefully the happy) end. Would be great if you could write some lines about it. Thank you!
    PS I am a passionate pupil of Michel and an admirer of his great personality.

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  57. RJ D says:

    it looks like a few years since anyone has posted here. I am looking for anyone who has info on Fausto Molinet, my grandfather. I see he was mentioned above by walter wimer. thank you.

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