Josselson, Michael, 1908-1978

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Michael Josselson was born March 2, 1908, in Tartu, Estonia, the son of a Jewish timber merchant. Following his primary education in Estonia, he attended secondary school in Berlin from 1920 to 1927. He attended one year each at the University of Berlin and the University of Freiburg from 1927 through 1928, then left school to work as a buyer in the Berlin office of Gimbel-May department stores.

Josselson, fluent in German, Russian, French, and English, excelled in his job, which required him to arrange wholesale purchases from suppliers in various European countries. By 1935, he sought to leave Nazi Germany and gained a promotion to manager of Gimbel Brothers' Paris office. He was so successful in that position that in 1937 he immigrated to the United States with his new French wife, Colette, to work in New York City as the managing director for all of Gimbels' European offices.

World War II brought about the collapse of European markets and in 1941 Josselson had to again work as a buyer for Gimbels. He and his wife separated that year and she remained in New York while he moved to Pittsburgh for his new position. They later divorced in 1949. Josselson became a US citizen in 1942 and was drafted into the US Army in 1943.

In the Army, Josselson received military intelligence training and was assigned to a communications unit in Europe as an interpreter. He was discharged as a 1st Lieutenant in 1946, although he remained in the reserves as a military intelligence officer until 1950.

From 1946 to 1949, Josselson worked as a cultural affairs officer for the US War Department's Office of the Military Government in Berlin. From 1949-1950 he worked on the public affairs staff of the US State Department's Office of the High Commissioner for Germany. In these positions he was responsible for the de-Nazification of top German intellectuals and leaders as well as the editing and dissemination of anti-Communist propaganda. It is during this period that Josselson purportedly became connected with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Josselson left the State Department in 1950 to help steer the newly created Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a liberal, anti-Communist organization founded by American and European intellectuals to expose Communist cultural oppression and to oppose all forms of totalitarian rule. As the Administrative Secretary of the CCF, Josselson arranged for financing from various sources, including organizations that operated as fronts to channel CIA funds. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, Josselson worked behind the scenes in various administrative positions as the CCF organized conferences, produced numerous publications, and created regional offices around the world. He claims to have sought non-CIA funding during this period, particularly from the Ford Foundation, but a series of news stories in 1966 exposing the CCF and CIA connection brought about Josselson's resignation as the Executive Director and the dissolution of the CCF in 1967.

After his resignation, Josselson continued to informally advise former CCF associates who created a new organization, the International Association for Cultural Freedom, which disavowed the CCF and the CIA but continued many of the CCF's programs. In the early 1970s, Josselson began extensive research for a biography of the Napoleonic-era Russian General Barclay de Tolly. Plagued by health problems, he relied heavily upon research and typing assistance, much of it provided by his second wife, Diana Dodge Josselson.

Josselson died in Geneva on January 7, 1978, following heart surgery. He had moved to Switzerland in 1961 to seek treatment for his circulatory problems and had already undergone several surgeries. At the time of his death, his manuscript for The Commander: A Life of Barclay de Tolly was finished except for the bibliography and index. Soon thereafter Diana Josselson completed the book, which was published by Oxford University Press in 1980.

From the guide to the Michael Josselson Papers TXRC98-A0., 1914-1991, (bulk 1960-1978), (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center University of Texas at Austin)

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creatorOf Michael Josselson Papers TXRC98-A0., 1914-1991, (bulk 1960-1978) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
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Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Amburger, Erik, 1907- person
associatedWith Arndt, Walter W., 1916- person
associatedWith Aron, Raymond, 1905- person
associatedWith Barklai, de Tolli, Mikhail Bogdanovich, niaz', 1761-1818 person
associatedWith Beier, Ulli person
associatedWith Bell, Daniel person
associatedWith Berlin, Isaiah, Sir person
associatedWith Bondy, Francois, 1915- person
associatedWith Brandt, Willy, 1913- person
associatedWith Brzezinski, Zbigniew K. person
associatedWith Bundy, McGeorge person
associatedWith Campenhausen, Balthasar von person
associatedWith Chenu, Roselynne person
associatedWith Chiaromonte, Nicola person
associatedWith Congress for Cultural Freedom corporateBody
associatedWith Draper, Theodore, 1912- person
associatedWith Dubuis, Gisele person
associatedWith Emmanuel, Pierre person
associatedWith Ford Foundation corporateBody
associatedWith Freymond, Jacques person
associatedWith Galbraith, John Kenneth, 1908- person
associatedWith Goldstein, David I. person
associatedWith Hamilton, Mark person
associatedWith Hook, Sidney, 1902- person
associatedWith Hunt, John C. person
associatedWith Jelenski, Constantin, 1922- person
associatedWith Kalline, Anna person
associatedWith Kennan, George Frost, 1904- person
associatedWith Kerkonnen, Karin person
associatedWith Koestler, Arthur, 1905- person
associatedWith Kristol, Irving person
associatedWith Labedz, Leopold person
associatedWith Laqueur, Walter, 1921- person
associatedWith Lasky, Melvin J. person
associatedWith Longworth, Philip, 1933- person
associatedWith Luthy, Herbert, 1918- person
associatedWith MacAuley, Robie person
associatedWith MacDonald, Dwight person
associatedWith Madariaga, Salvador de, 1886- person
associatedWith Masani, Minocherer Rustom, 1905- person
associatedWith Mphahlele, Ezekiel person
associatedWith Nabakov, Nicolas, 1903- person
associatedWith Narayan, Jayaprakash person
associatedWith Olsen, William C. person
associatedWith Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967 person
associatedWith Oprecht, Hans person
associatedWith Oxford University Press corporateBody
associatedWith Passin, Herbert, 1916- person
associatedWith Pipes, Richard Lloyd, 1930- person
associatedWith Platt, Frank C. (Frank Cheney), 1932- person
associatedWith Polanyi, Michael, 1891- person
associatedWith Prosch, Georges von person
associatedWith Raeff, Marc person
associatedWith Ray, Sibnarayan, 1921- person
associatedWith Rubenstein, Leonard person
associatedWith Saron, Rosy person
associatedWith Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, 1917- person
associatedWith Schroeder, Johann Karl von person
associatedWith Shils, Edward, 1910-1995 person
associatedWith Silone, Ignazio, 1900-1978 person
associatedWith Souvarine, Boris person
associatedWith Spender, Stephen, 1909- person
associatedWith Sperber, Manes, 1905- person
associatedWith Stone, Shepard person
associatedWith Warburg, Frederic, 1898- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Anti-communist movements
Soviet Union--History,Military--1801-1917
Authors, English--20th century
Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815


Birth 1908

Death 1978

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Ark ID: w6z774t0

SNAC ID: 2452708