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Angus Thuermer dies at 92; former journalist, CIA official

Angus Thuermer wields a makeshift baseball bat used by him and others interned in Germany after the U.S. entry into World War II.
Angus Thuermer wields a makeshift baseball bat used by him and others interned in Germany after the U.S. entry into World War II. (James A. Parcell/the Washington Post)
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For one widely played story, Mr. Thuermer negotiated with German officials to interview British author P.G. Wodehouse, "the imperturbable creator of the unexampled Jeeves," who in a series of beloved stories is personal valet to the foppish Bertie Wooster.

Wodehouse was arrested at his villa in Le Touquet, France, and taken by German soldiers to a prison camp in eastern Germany that had once been an insane asylum. There, as Mr. Thuermer wrote in his dispatch on Dec. 26, 1940, Wodehouse was "cheerfully writing a book" in an old padded cell. "Well, my, my," Wodehouse told Mr. Thuermer. "It certainly is grand of you to come down to see me."

A year later, Mr. Thuermer himself was interned shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States declared war. He and 135 journalists, diplomats and American officials still in Germany were detained for five months in Bad Nauheim, a resort town in the lush countryside north of Frankfurt.

To bide time, Mr. Thuermer, wire service reporter Glen Stadler and George Kennan, a U.S. embassy official who later became a chief architect of U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union, formed the "Bad Nauheim Wurlitzer Cup Series," a four-team baseball league.

They used a whittled-down tree branch for a bat and made a baseball out of a champagne cork wrapped in old pajamas and socks and bound by U.S. Public Health Service adhesive tape. Bases were fashioned from diplomatic pouches, and home plate was crafted from the end of a commissary box.

They went to such lengths, he later told The Washington Post, because "it's unconstitutional not to play baseball."

When they were released in 1942 through an exchange for prisoners, Mr. Thuermer took the baseball bat home and later kept it in his garage in Middleburg, where he had lived since the 1950s with his wife of 62 years, the former Alice Alexander.

She survives, along with three children, Tina Thuermer of Arlington County, Kitty Thuermer of Washington and Angus M. Thuermer Jr. of Jackson, Wyo.; and one granddaughter.

Nearly 50 years after his release from Bad Nauheim, Mr. Thuermer decided to wrap his old bat in newspaper and mail it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., where it is now part of the museum's World War II collection.


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