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In September 1996 I was asked by Mr. M...., living in ... Germany, to accompany him on Wednesday September 18th, 1996 around 4:00 p.m. during a meeting with one Herbert Thiel, living in Eschborn, Germany. I knew there were troubles between the German Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous and Mr. M... regarding the way and manner of Mr. M's voluntary efforts to provide free help and service for addictive drinkers, following the path of AA's program of recovery. On request of the General Service Board of AA Inc., Germany, he was pushed out from various AA meetings of Oberursel and Bad Homburg (his hometown and neighborhood). And he war told it was strictly forbidden for him to further attend these meetings. Moreover several pieces of AA literature as issued by Anonymous Alcoholics of German Language and by Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book Study Group were subject of controversy. Mr. Thiel -allegedly- wanted to help settle these matters. In addition to Mr. Thiel and Mr. M... following persons were in attendance too: Klaus M. from Eschborn, Ulli from Alzenau, Mrs. K... from Social Interdenominational Service Station Kronberg and myself.
Mr. Thiel introduced during this "talk" himself as authorized spokesman of AA Inc. Germany. I knew before he was in the position of German-wide Public Relations Officer of AA Inc.
To my surprise, there was no attempt from his side to help settle things at all. Also the word "talk" is put in quotation marks, because it was almost entirely a monologue by Mr. Thiel, who did not give other participants an opportunity to speak. I had the impression that Mr. Thiel was like "a fox on the run". He supported his words by threatening poses (pointing with his finger, raising his fist at us, and similar). According to his explanations he seemed to be convinced that all success of addiction treatment -as far as the fellowship of AA had any such success at that time- were very much his personal merits. Additionally he seemed to be possessed by the idea of making a bogeyman out of others, whom he considered being his enemies. I remember his phrase "You now want to destroy all that we have built in the past". Thus, in my view, he was not headed towards a settlement whatever. He only presented a long row of accusations and threats. As one example of his success in throwing people out of AA he reported the case of "Voluntary Service for Addicts Inc." and handed over documents about their program and their Board members, where he had marked former AA members by his handwritten notes.
I was also disgusted by the observation that time and again he made allegations towards all of us or to Mr. M... in particular and little later he quoted these same allegations to make his point of argument as if it had been statements by us. For example: "If we would say we give you our sales prospects for AA literature and you can pass them on, then you would reply you wouldn't do that." Then he argued "You yourselves have said you refuse to do that." I was very much in doubt if Mr. Thiel was able to distinguish between his personal fantasy and reality.
Mr. Thiel announced on my return to Hannover I would find a letter from the Board of Directors of German AA Inc. He advised me strongly to be obedient and answer this letter. This letter (see attachment) really arrived. To my surprise it was sent by certified mail, which is unusual. Moreover the full sender address of AA Inc. was used (mailings have usually a neutral sender address to protect the anonymity of the receivers. At that time I was very upset about this procedure, because this way my anonymity broken and I was revealed to the public. I was convinced that also by common German law they were obliged to keep my affiliation with them confidential, because they registered themselves as being an organization providing therapy and treatment advice.
I remember very clearly the contents of this unambiguous statement issued by Mr. Thiel towards Mr. M... as kind of a goodbye after the "talk". He made it perfectly clear "If you do not comply with our requests we will destroy you mentally and financially!"