Earlier this week Mike Constandy of Westmoreland Research reminded me of an important concept that bears repeating here. He told me how he had sent e-mails to the first and second-line supervisors of a NARA staff member that has been especially helpful to him over the years. Such thoughtfulness goes a long way in maintaining future goodwill with people who will be pleased to go out of their way to help you in the future.
Here is one of my own personal experiences-
About 20 years ago I sent a letter of appreciation to a department head at the Volksbund Deutscher Kriegrgräber Fürsorge in Kassel and I made a friend for life. When I first arrived at the VDK unannounced I was taken to meet this fellow who was an actual baron. I was dressed in a suit and I told him in my fractured German how I wanted to look through their grave registration cards to identify the fates of W-SS officers. He told me that I was wasting my time, but to come back after lunch and he would give me his decision. I returned and we talked some more about my research and then he said I could look through their room full of cards and other records and then he introduced me to a younger man who I could go to for assistance who was the lead of the 3-person Gräberkartei department. (I was surprised to see a copy of the "Der Freiwillige" laying on the baron's desk.) I took the assistant out to lunch on my last day there and then sent a letter of appreciation to the baron. Needless to say, I was a welcome visitor at the VDK the following year and several times thereafter. The employee friend got a promotion and even had me staying as a guest in his house during my last few visits. We stay in touch regularly, but he is going to take a one-year sabbatical to Canada later this year. A similar thank you was also sent to the supervisor at the Prag Military Archive following the week I spent there. While I never went back to that archive, I believe that the goodwill that I created helped gain the access of the former Sturmbannführer Günter Bernau from “Wiking” who contacted the same archivist and made a connection to me in his application for access.
Has anyone else had similar experiences?