What do the Experts Say?
In the article "Larger than Life", Los Angeles Times reporter Roy Rivenburg clearly and wrongly implied that Michel Thomas was not at the liberation of Dachau, was not the original discoverer of the Nazi Party Master file of over ten million worldwide members, and was not a "real" CIC Agent, but rather a civilian translator or investigator.
The Nazi Party Master file of worldwide members became the heart of the Berlin Document Center, a crucial postwar archive of Nazi records maintained by the U.S. State Department until it was turned over to the German government in 1994. Until the publication of Michel's account in Test of Courage, the true discoverer of these critically important records has been unknown to historians.
Mr. Rivenburg was shown photos Michel Thomas took at the liberation of Dachau, was shown originals of signed statements of crematorium workers Michel Thomas interrogated at the camp on the day of liberation, and was shown the original handwritten statement of Emil Mahl, the "hangman of Dachau" whom Michel captured. Mr. Rivenburg never mentioned any of this evidence in his article, and did not disclose it to sources whom he quoted in the article.
Below are links to letters written by two of the sources quoted in the article, Hugh Foster and retired Brigadier General Felix Sparks, and a letter by an expert on the discovery of the Nazi Party Master file, Robert Wolfe. Michel's investigator interviewed Foster and Sparks after the article was published. Both stated that they were misled by the reporter and signed letters for publication to set the record straight.
Finally, there is the Declaration of retired CIC Agent Conrad McCormick, who was also quoted in the article. The Times also published a "Letter-to-the-Editor" purportedly from McCormick in May 2001, apparently approving of the defamatory article about Michel Thomas. McCormick signed a sworn Declaration stating that he never sent any Letter-to-the-Editor of the Times, and that the letter that was published was planted in the newspaper without his knowledge or consent.
The signed final pages of these letters will be posted in the Library section of this web site; to speed the downloading of the text, we have included only the text of the letters here.
REGARDING MICHEL'S PRESENCE AT THE LIBERATION OF DACHAU
Hugh F.Foster III
A decorated Vietnam vet who has spent twelve years studying the liberation of Dachau, Foster was quoted in the article to imply that Thomas could not have been at the liberation. But when Foster saw the evidence Rivenburg did not disclose to him, he wrote a detailed letter stating that he believes Michel was at the liberation, and indicating he was misled by Rivenburg:
The lieutenant colonel who led the troops that liberated Dachau in the early afternoon of April 29, 1945, Felix Sparks was quoted in the article stating that Michel was not with his troops at Dachau, and that he would have known if Michel had been among his men. But Sparks signed a letter that shows Rivenburg misled him by misrepresenting Michel's account:
REGARDING THE DISCOVERY OF THE NAZI PARTY MASTER FILE
Hailed by fellow scholars as the pre-eminent expert on captured German war documents, Robert Wolfe is a decorated WWII veteran who served in Germany, and a former senior archivist from the National Archives. Wolfe offers detailed evidence that Michel Thomas is the heretofore uncredited discoverer of the Nazi Party's Master file of worldwide members. Wolfe also offers his criticism of the "spiteful niggling and hateful conjecture" employed by Rivenburg to destroy Michel Thomas's reputation:
REGARDING THE PLANTING OF A PHONY "LETTER-TO-THE-EDITOR"
A retired Counter Intelligence Corps veteran who serves as an archivist at the Army Intelligence Museum in Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, Conrad McCormick was quoted in the article to discredit Thomas, but after the article was published he signed a sworn Declaration to the Court that the Times converted emails from him into a phony Letter-to-the-Editor, apparently approving of the article.