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"The idea was to get them talking and to keep them talking and not to offend them or make them shut up or scare them to death or anything like that." (Video Interview, Part 1, 14:02)

   Rudolf H. Michaels
Image of Rudolf H. Michaels
Rudolf Michaels [detail from video]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: IPW Team #28, 5th Armored Division
Service Location: Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Camp Elliott, California; Camp Crowder, Missouri; Camp Ritchie, Maryland; European Theater
Rank: Major
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Fleeing Nazi Germany, Rudolf Michaels came to the United States in 1938 at the age of 22. Drafted in 1940, he was assigned to the 5th Armored Division after the U.S. entered World War II. But in 1944, he was selected for training at Camp Ritchie, in the mountains of Maryland, where he and other German-speaking soldiers learned interrogation techniques to use on captured German soldiers in the European Theater in the last year of the war. (Michaels' interview is in two parts, conducted in sessions one week apart. Part 1 deals mainly with his intelligence work. Part 2 covers his experiences in the armored division, including the liberation of Paris.)

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (15 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 
Download: video(1) | 
Download: video(2) (119 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (15 items)
The military need for German speaking interrogators; the origins of Camp Ritchie, MD. (04:42) Six-man Interrogator of Prisoner of War (IPW) teams were sent to the European theater following training in the U.S. (01:13) The importance of proper language training, even for a native speaker. (01:09)
Training included practice interrogations, even of women, and men wearing German uniforms. (01:45) With so much time and expense in their training, Interrogators of Prisoners of War (IPWs) were told to stay out of harm's way; situation was much different once they were in Europe. (00:58) Once in place, IPWs found themselves in situations far removed from their actual training. (04:06)
IPWs were invaluable in helping to get devastated cities running again. (00:22) Learning in the field what he had missed at Camp Ritchie. (00:46) Seeing the results of the intelligence he gathered. (02:48)
Escaping Nazi persecution in Germany; in 1938 signing a "Declaration of Intention" to become a U.S. citizen. (01:19) Who was at Camp Ritchie and what sort of training they received. (01:29) Few in the military aware of the existence of the IPW teams and what their role was. (01:11)
With the 5th Armored Division, was among the first Americans to enter Paris. (04:16) Kind of interrogations depended largely on where they were and what the military situation was. (01:04) Using the "show of knowledge" tactic to elicit information from German POWs. (01:39)

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  October 26, 2011
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