Introducing Jean-Michel Thomas
A few months ago Jean-Michel Thomas replaced Pieter Dietz de Loos as chairman of the international Dachau Commitee (CID).
Time to ask Jean-Michel Thomas to introduce himself bij answering some questions.
Where are you from, and can you tell us something about your past?
I come from Normandy and lived along the Seine near Rouen. After graduating from business school I have done my military service and then I stayed in the army. That was the time of the Cold War, the only war that we won without even firing a single cannon shot! For 38 years I have served the Army in various functions until the degree of general.
What is your main occupation now?
As board member of the French Amicale Dachau, secretary general and president of the CID, I devote myself mainly to the memory of deportation. I am also part of the environmental associations and heritage. And I have a large family with 5 children and 13 grandchildren.
What connects you with the CID?
I am the son of a Dachau deporte. My father, a prisoner of war escaped twice and joined the French resistance early in 1942 before being arrested in April 1944 and sent to Dachau by the "Train of Death" of July 2, 1944, as his comrade Andre Delpech, future general and president of the CID.
I joined the CID as soon as I no longer served in the regular army in 2009 to assist the Secretary General Jean Samuel. Unforeseen circumstances have appointed me as chairman. People issues are secondary. We are here by the will of the survivors. The mission that we have set is clear and it is a great honor for me.
Plus jamais, Nie wieder, Never again! is in brief the mission of the CID
This universal desire for peace is far from being reached. However, the information about the past, and particularly about Nazism and on the reality of the concentration and extermination camps promotes a wholesome realization process. This is a valuable asset in the fight against the recurrence of such atrocities. "Remembrance is the guardian of the mind".
After 70 years what did we achieve so far in your opinion?
The primary objectives of the CID such as the preservation of the camp, the erection of a monument and the establishment of a museum have been realized. Other goals are to participate in the cult of remembrance, the official, but also alongside religious associations and partners involved. I am impressed by the number of people volunteering, in this task. The Dachau camp was visited by nearly 900,000 visitors this year and this is an encouraging result.
In what direction do you want to take the CID and what are our main challenges?
The objectives of the CID is the preservation and defense of the remembrance of the concentrationcamp Dachau. Currently, there are many ambitious projects on the part of the concentration camp memorial, such as improving the accessibility for all, the repair of the barracks, the redevelopment of the site in Mühlldorf, recovery to the memorial of the buildings and remaining spaces of the “Kräutergarten" and its restoration.
We support them fully and our cooperation goes in these directions. For a better understanding of the reality of these camps, "model" of the universe of the concentration camps can take various forms.
What in the world worries you the most?
The rise of the war waged against the West by an Islamist state, close to Nazism, is a real threat to peace.
As for the Dachau camp, vigilance is called for specially with regard to false correlations, distortions on the camp's history, the introduction of virtual video games onto sacred places or on false allegations in the press about the accommodation of refugees in the Dachau camp.
What are the things in life you value the most ?
In a world where nothing is free, a materialistic world of profitability and profit, giving a price to everything but recognizing the value of nothing, I enjoy volunteering, donating once time, especially for the noble cause that we serve.