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The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Result: Closed as delist by Aircorn: [1]. K.e.coffman (talk) 18:33, 16 June 2017 (UTC)

Joachim HelbigEdit

Article (edit | visual edit | history) · Article talk (edit | history) · WatchWatch article reassessment pageMost recent review
Result: Delist Lots of comments on the article here, but there seems to be a general agreement that it does not at this stage meet the GA criteria. Lots of advice here for anyone willing t fix and renominate at a future point. AIRcorn (talk) 22:22, 4 June 2017 (UTC)


I am nominating the article for community reassessment due to the concern over sourcing and potentially failing GAC #2b:

The article contains:

  • 21 citations to Franz Kurowski (please see linked article)
  • 5 citations to Ralph Schumann by the right-wing German publisher VDM Heinz Nickel [de] (pls see linked article)
  • 10 citations to Peter Taghon from the same imprint
  • 12 citations to a self-published source Florian Berger; please see sample of Berger's work The Face of Courage
  • 2 citations to Helden der Wehrmacht – Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten ["Heroes of the Wehrmacht – Immortal German soldiers"], mentioned in Antisemitism Worldwide, 2000/1 as being offered alongside such book as "KZ-Lies" and "Wehrmacht as Liberator"

Sample of the content supported by the above sources:

  • In more than 200 combat missions, Schlund successfully fought off 13 attacks by enemy fighters.[1]
  • During this moonlight mission, Helbig dive-bombed and sank a troop transport ship, most likely the Ellenis, which was also used as a hospital ship by Greek forces.[2]
  • After completing his training as an observer and aerial gunner on 20 April 1937, he was posted with III. Gruppe (3rd Group) Kampfgeschwader (Bomber Wing) 152 "Hindenburg" in Schwerin. III./KG 152 "Hindenburg" became II. Group of Lehrgeschwader 1 (1st Demonstration Wing) on 1 November 1938, where he started his informal pilot training.[3][4][5]
  • At 2:30 pm 14 Ju 88s from I.(Kampf)/LG 1 headed for quadrant 6450/23 East. Despite the protection of accompanying Bristol Beaufort torpedo bombers from No. 272 Squadron RAF, the Ju 88s attacked. The HMS Lively was struck by Oberfeldwebel Leupert and sank at about 3:30 pm.[6][7]


  1. ^ Kurowski 1996, p. 47.
  2. ^ Kurowski 1996, p. 44.
  3. ^ Berger 1999, p. 120.
  4. ^ Schumann 2007, p. 80.
  5. ^ Taghon 2004a, pp. 22, 23.
  6. ^ Kurowski 1996, p. 48.
  7. ^ Taghon (2004b), p. 11.

These sources are not in line with the WP:MILMOS#SOURCES guidelines that military history articles, and especially results of operations and any statistics, be cited to published works by reputable historians. The authors and publishers included above do not have a reputation for editorial oversight or fact-checking. Please also see prior GARs involving some of the same concerns:

K.e.coffman (talk) 02:52, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Initial discussionEdit

I'd support the delisting for the exact same reasons listed in Kittel (and above, obviously), which incidentally is a GAR I've started myself. To be perfectly honest I'd love it if this got more feedback than Kittel so it doesn't feel like we're just reenacting that GAR or whatever, although I do think the issues here are pretty obvious, just like with Kittel. It's also been three months since the refimprove with no activity on that front – again, pretty much a mirror of Kittel. In fact if there are more obviously Kurowski-ed (or any other unreliable author) articles like this (with no signs of improving), then the above should apply to all of them. --CCCVCCCC (talk) 15:36, 27 September 2016 (UTC)

I'm in favor of delisting because of criterion 4 (neutrality) as well. The "In defense of the Reich" section is not neutral. I'm not very familiar with the modern German literature on WW2, but I've read contemporary sources extensively, and this section reads like Nazi propaganda. It is not in keeping with the style used in modern English-language histories either. The same is probably true of the Battle of Britain section. It states that Helbig flew over 100 combat missions but elaborates only on missions ostensibly against military targets.
That is absolutely classic Luftwaffe propaganda; the German bomber pilot only ever hit military targets while the Allied "terrorists" only ever hit churches, hospitals and orphanages. I suppose that says something about criterion 2 as well. That is, Helbig's life story is precisely what one would expect in a propaganda account of a German bomber pilot. That leads me to suspect, very strongly, that the sources used here are leaving something out.Roches (talk) 21:17, 29 September 2016 (UTC)
@Roches: G'day, can you please highlight areas of the Defense of the Reich section that are not neutral? Is it the wording that you think is problematic, or the events that are covered? If it is wording, I can try to help, but otherwise this isn't a topic I have expertise in, or sources for, so I am hoping that the article's main contributor, @MisterBee1966: might be able to address your concerns. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 02:38, 1 October 2016 (UTC)
Procedure note: I assume you gentlemen have given notice to the original GA reviewer - Auntieruth55. Kierzek (talk) 20:18, 30 September 2016 (UTC)
I posted a notification to the MilHist Talk page (link), but I see that I did not include the article name in the title, so it was not obvious which article was being reassessed.
Good idea on a separate notice. I will notify the GA reviewer, plus others who took part in the peer & A-class reviews. K.e.coffman (talk) 23:46, 30 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Comments/suggestions from AustralianRupert: G'day, I have the following comments and suggestions focused upon hopefully improving the article so that it can be kept as a GA class article (I will try to help where I can): AustralianRupert (talk) 02:38, 1 October 2016 (UTC)
  • in the lead Gross register tonnage is over linked, as are Hauptmann, Oberfeldwebel, Heraklion, Leutnant, Lehrgeschwader 1, and Generalfeldmarschall in the rest of the article
  • "...while on a recon mission over Poland, Helbig shot down a Polish reconnaissance aircraft". Probably best to clarify that this was with one of the aircraft's defensive machine guns.
  • where possible I would like to see other sources used to corroborate Kurowski and Berge etc, but if it is not possible I suggest using in text attribution more to distance Wikipedia's voice from these sources, but if they could be pared down to a minimum I think it would be ok to keep with proper attribution etc.
  • In addition to the point above, I think some discussion of Kurowski's (and potentially the other sources) work should be mentioned in the article with some of the academic commentary being included (if the works remain as citations). This could possibly be put in the final section of prose, e.g. "Much of the detail about Helbig's military career comes from the work of Franz Kurowski... In characterising Kurowski's work, academic.... (and so on)..." A short sentence in the lead could also possibly be added.
  • " In defense of the Allied landings in Algeria and Tunisia..." Probably should be "In opposition to the Allied landings in Algeria and Tunisia..."
  • the lead mentions that he was banned from further combat duties after receiving the Oak Leaves and Swords, but I don't think this is mentioned in the body of the article;
  • "enemy" where possible should be changed to a different pro noun, e.g. "Allied", or "British", or "US" where it is known exactly who he was fighting
  • there is a mixture of US and British English variatio nthat should be rectified (e.g. "defence" and "defense" - a thorough check should be done as these might not be the only two instances)
  • I think that the headings would potentially be better as all second level, with the first "Military career" heading probably be better if styled as "Early life", while the "In defense of the Reich" header could be have "and later life" added
  • inconsistent citation styles, e.g. "Williamson 2004, p. 46." v. Taghon (2004b), p. 12." Not necessarily a GA criterion, but could be fixed within the context of this review. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 02:38, 1 October 2016 (UTC)
  • "headed for quadrant 6450/23 East..." the article probably doesn't need this level of specific detail as the lay person won't understand it. A generic description would suffice, e.g. "headed to attack an Allied convoy 200 miles to the north-east of Malta" (I have just made up these details to illustrate my point, please don't use these descriptions and distances etc).
  • "armed reconnaissance patrol in the sea area south of Crete on..." --> "armed reconnaissance patrol over the sea south of Crete..."
  • OVERCITE: I'm generally not too concerned by this, but some sentences have three citations at the end. Potentially a bundled citation style might work better here, e.g. <ref>Smith 1998, p. 1; Jones 2004, p. 61; Kafoops 2013, p. 111.</ref>. If this was adopted, it would need to be consistent throughout.
  • Comment -- I don't believe the above (keeping Kurowski et al & adding a discussion section) is a workable solution, for two reasons:
  1. If these sources are kept, then the article would not be in compliance with the GA requirement that "all in-line citations are from reliable sources". Kurowski's citations are from Luftwaffe Aces. If Panzer Aces (which I've seen: sample) is any indication, then it's mostly historical fiction, and Wikipedia does not source articles to fictional accounts.
  2. The proposed section discussing sources (I believe) is intended to be similar to "In popular culture" section at Wolfgang Lüth. This section is included because Kurowski's hagiography of Lüth was covered by a secondary source (Hadley). Kurowski wrote over 400 books, so it seems highly unlikely that Kurowski's discussion of Helbig would covered in any secondary sources. If the editors were to include such a section based on their personal experience, then it would most likely be editorialising or synthesis, not sure which, but this does not sound right to me.
Does this make sense? K.e.coffman (talk) 18:59, 1 October 2016 (UTC)


  • I am not willing to condemn wholesale any book published by VDM Heinz Nickel. I own the Taghon books cited in the article and they're not pro-Nazi in any way, although I cannot speak to any other books published by them. However, I cannot support the self-published book by Berger without looking at it to see his sourcing and I honestly don't care to invest the time to try a track down a copy. I'll cross-check the Kurowski cites against Taghon and other English-language source and have already deleted one bit that cannot be supported. More will follow. KC winners are not an interest of mine and I cannot validate anything to do with award dates, etc. Even with replacement cites added from Scherzer, etc., I'm afraid that the article will still fail the GA criteria after I'm done trimming the extraneous material and the non-RS citations. Especially if no one has access to Schumann or some other source to replace the info from Berger. Remember, though, the goal of a GAR is to fix the issues if at all possible, not to simply delist it.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 03:48, 2 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Thank you for the input on Taghon. I added Helden der Wehrmacht to the list of problematic sources, along with a sample from Berger's The Face of Courage. Hope this is helpful. K.e.coffman (talk) 04:19, 2 October 2016 (UTC)
  • G'day, just to clarify, what is the issue with the Berger work? From the link provided above ([2]), it doesn't seem to be self published, as it appears to have been published by J.J Fedorowicz and then reprinted by Stackpole Books, which appear to be Canadian and US publishers. Am I missing something? Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 08:28, 2 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Yeah, the fact that the Berger book cited here is self-published is almost irrelevant since we've now seen that he is a published author with a mainstream press. So I think that Berger just moved from non-RS to RS with the usual caveats.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 15:02, 2 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment -- I do not necessarily agree that the sample provided signifies that Berger is RS, for two reasons:
  1. I provided the English-language sample as a means to show that his works are hagiographic and uncritical accounts of highly decorated German soldiers of WWII. Both Kurowski and Berger have been published by Fedorowitz and Stackpole, and that does not make them RS.
  2. The work that is being cited in the article is Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges ["With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War"], which was printed via Selbstverlag Florian Berger, meaning "Self-published by Florian Berger" (this book was not reprinted in English, as far as I know). Some more context on Berger is in a 2013 MilHist thread, with an editor noting: "As for Berger, I only found one review of his work in a journal for librarians. The reviewer of this self-published book basically advises the author to go and find another hobby" (link).
Hope this is helpful. K.e.coffman (talk) 19:03, 2 October 2016 (UTC)
G'day, I've got no concerns with removing the work that hasn't been reprinted by an independent publishing house (i.e. Mit eichenlaub...) but I do not support the wholesale removal of the works that have been reprinted independently (e.g. Stackpole etc) without strong evidence that they are not reliable for the information cited. As for a review in a journal for librarians, I have a couple of concerns. What qualification did the person who wrote the review have? I have written a few book reviews for a peer reviewed journal myself does that make me an authority on the work I reviewed? No, I wrote my opinion. I'm a professionally published author and have four degrees, but I wouldn't say that makes me more qualified than the average person. Also, most works will receive some criticism in reviews, it doesn't mean that they do not qualify as reliable sources in a Wikipedia sense. Remember the term isn't literal, rather it is a purely Wikipedia construct. Equally, if you read WP:RS as a whole, I believe the approach it requires is more nuanced with some sources being RS for certain things, but not for others, e.g. a biography on a cricketer could well be an RS on the details of particular matches that might have been played during a certain period of history, but it wouldn't really be RS for the intricate details of the political climate that the match might be played in (e.g. for example, a book discussing a cricket tour of South Africa during the Apartheid era). Hence, a book like The Face of Courage seems RS for biographical details of the recipients included therein, but I wouldn't consider it RS for detailed analysis of political and strategic aspects of the war. There is a fine line I agree, but we need to be careful also not to set the bar abnormally high lest we create double standards. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 03:42, 3 October 2016 (UTC)
While it is helpful to review the sources, it is important to consider the use of the sources. While overall the source might have a bias about the historical context, it could still be accurate regarding the biographical information of the individual, as Rupert pointed out above. Part of the role of the historian is to separate the chaff from the grain, so to speak. Although Mr. B may have used sources that by and large would not be acceptable in article about the role of the Luftwaffe in the war, for example, his use of these sources for biographical information about the subject may be entirely in line with the article and indeed the only way to construct a comprehensible time line of the individual's action.
In general, my attitude toward the Stackpole republications is that if they publish them, it's by an large reliable as to fact, although not necessarily to interpretation. To throw out a source, published by Stackpole or not, on the basis of its unreliable interpretation would not be appropriate, especially if its summary of fact based material relating to the biography of the individual is the resource. We might put together a statement to this effect to be included on these articles, rather than argue this case at every review. auntieruth (talk) 15:41, 6 October 2016 (UTC)'
Furthermore, even a basic search on Florian Berger suggests that he has a very decent education and a high level of interest in flying. The fact that his books are self-published simply means that he did not get them published in an academic publication. This does not mean that he is ignorant. I suggest we examine these further before we throw out the baby with the bath water. auntieruth (talk) 16:20, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment -- I've not been able to find any reviews in literature of Berger's works, except for user-generated ones at Amazon, such as:
  • "For anyone who collects WWII german autographs,researching or has a interest in WWII german histroy this is the book about what most WWII collecters/veterans would probly agree, tells of the most elite 98 and only 98 soldiers whom received both the Nahkampfspange in Gold and Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes..."
This indicates to me that these works are targeted at collectors or German WWII militaria. The comment on "one librarian" was from a German speaker, and they said they were not able to find any other reviews either. This shows that these works have been ignored by reputable historians and probably by the general public. Stating that the author has "a very decent education and a high level of interest in flying" is insufficient to establish that these works are RS. See also these relevant AfD discussions that touched on the topic of "specialist literature":
In this article, Berger is used for military statistics and details of the subject's career, which is not recommended under WP:MILMOS. I also subscribe to the view expressed on the initial discussion about Kurowski: "Problem is that if we start scouring through the pile we will inevitably get ourselves dirty." link. If the information was important, then surely a reputable historian would have covered that. One starts by using Berger and ends up including citations to straight up WP:FRINGE material such as Helden der Wehrmacht. K.e.coffman (talk) 03:15, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
a cursory search generates this: information about him. you might do some of your own research too. auntieruth (talk) 14:49, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Is this the same person though? The web site states:
  • "Doctoral candidate at the University of Education Weingarten, Germany. My research topic is adaptive educational games. Lecturer at the Department 4 of the HTW University of Applied Sciences Berlin. I have worked as a teacher in vocational education, as a lecturer for media software at the SAE Institute, and as a freelance engineer."
This seems to be unrelated, i.e. results for "florian berger" historiker; or at least the personal web site linked above says nothing that I could see about WWII interests or being a writer. Such as the articles section. What suggests that this is the same person? K.e.coffman (talk) 14:59, 7 October 2016 (UTC)
not the right person. I've "talked" to him via email. Not the historiker. auntieruth (talk) 19:37, 10 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment I commented on Berger's works in more detail below. I do not hold the other works referenced for this article in very high esteem, either. Brütting worked for the German war propaganda and had flown with KG 2 and 53 during the war. After the war he carried on writing about the Luftwaffe (just that a foreword by Göring was removed from later editions of one of his works). As to Bergström, he provides a good bunch of sources and references, but also adds a lot of suspense to it. He is with Helbig and his gunner as well as with the British fighter pilots and literally recounts all the sweat and the cold wind touching their faces. Are these sources reliable? That depends on your point of view. They do not represent academic research. Most likely, they take their information and detail from Nazi propaganda and eye-witness accounts. Admittedly we do not know much about the effect of German bombings, but as with the tank commanders there is reason for some scepticism. How does someone, e.g., develop "into an industrial target specialist"?--Assayer (talk) 15:47, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Berger; related articlesEdit

I think that you'll need to point out to me the exact language in MILMOS that discourages use of "military statistics and details of the subject's career" from sources like Berger. Rather, I think, much like auntieruth55, those are the exact things that we can use from those types of sources and while ignoring all the NPOV and puffery. There's some of that in the Stackpole book of his that you linked to, but nowhere near enough for me to agree with you that he's non-RS without looking at the book, and most especially, his sources. And you seem to be very concerned about the tip of the camel's nose underneath the tent and all that regarding sourcing although that appears to be related to your willingness to paint various authors and publishers with a very broad brush as neo-Nazis or Nazi sympathizers. I'm sure that's true for some people and publishers, but even a crappy author like Kurowski can and has produced work of genuine value. Notably, his unit histories are actually semi-decent sources with far less peacocking and NPOV, a restraint notably lacking in his biographies. Not to mention they're far more factual, something that cannot be said for the latter, as I've demonstrated by the amount of errors sourced to Kurowski that I've eliminated from the article thus far.

I prefer a more nuanced view that each work should be examined on its own merits and it troubles me that you disparage Berger without actually having read his book. You're basing your opinion of Berger as non-RS solely off an excerpt on Google Books, am I right? You did much the same with Taghon simply because he published with VDM Heinz Nickel. I've owned a couple of the latter's aviation books over the years because I'm interested in the operational and organizational history of the Luftwaffe and I'm willing to assert that none of those that I've looked at had any particular pro-Nazi bias. I'm not willing to assert that for any other books published by them because I haven't seen them. Nor have I seen "Helden der Wehrmacht" and have no particular opinion about it, although it didn't seem to be a particularly high-quality source based on its usage in this article.

In my experience historians with academic backgrounds generally don't work on medal winners and similar esoteric subjects so it becomes very difficult to weed out and distinguish between reputable and non-reputable authors until you've delved deep into a subject. Forex, Alain Chazette and Rudi Rolf are probably the best authors currently working on the technical/military aspects of the Atlantic Wall and other WWII fortifications, but I have no idea if either has any formal qualifications or training as historians. I've seen academic works on the Atlantic Wall, but they're usually focused on its political, social or economic aspects, not the technical or military side. And much the same is true for technological things as well as ordinary people who've earned the Victoria Cross or the Medal of Honor. So we have little to rely upon except our own considered judgement and I think that you've been a little quick to evaluate sources on only a modicum of information.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 01:22, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

  • Comment -- here's the relevant passage from WP:MILMOS:
Policy requires that articles reference only reliable sources; however, this is a minimal condition, rather than a final goal. (...) Articles on military history should aim to be based primarily on published secondary works by reputable historians. The use of high-quality primary sources is also appropriate, but care should be taken to use them correctly, without straying into original research. Editors are encouraged to extensively survey the available literature—and, in particular, any available historiographic commentary—regarding an article's topic in order to identify every source considered to be authoritative or significant.
The nature of historical material requires that articles be thoroughly—even exhaustively—cited. At a minimum, the following all require direct citation:
  1. (...)
  2. Numerical quantities or statistics.
In general, any statement for which a citation has been explicitly requested by another editor should be provided with one as well. Beyond this, editors are encouraged to cite any statement that is obscure or difficult to find in the available sources, as well as any significant statement in general.
I interpret the above as articles requiring citations to reliable sources. What makes Berger a reliable source? Are there reviews of his works by reputable historians? The source is not considered reliable by default, we as editors use our judgement to evaluate sources based on available information (i.e. being self-published).
Re: Berger, here's a prefaces to the Face of Courage by Manfred Dorr, another author of "militaria literature":
  • "The attitude of the author impressed me in that he views the soldierly values of courage and bravery separately from the political system (...) This an indispensable requirement for a treatment of this topic..." (link).
That's what Kurowski has been criticised for (among other things): presenting the German armed forces in an ahistorical context, as "merely soldiers" (Nur Soldat). For this article, the source is self-published, and accepting sources that are also biased and / or built on unreliable Nazi propaganda is not in line with GA requirements designed to feature Wikipedia's best work.
I agree that "...historians with academic backgrounds generally don't work on medal winners and similar esoteric subjects...", but this does not mean we should accept WP:QS sources instead. This would require too much original research to weed out any biased content, which is against policy.
This "nuanced approach" results in articles that are unencyclopedic, possibly to the extent of violating policies on verifiability, neutrality, or original research. That is why Otto Kittel was delisted and Wolfgang Lüth was heavily redacted to bring them in line with Wikipedia policies. An editor above noted that the article is "absolutely classic Luftwaffe propaganda", while another A-class article (Der Panzergraf) was described as a "10,000+ word essay full of Nazi fancruft" (link).
Expectations for verifiability and NPOV are part and parcel of Wikipedia, and this article as it stands does not reflect that. Thus, it should be delisted. K.e.coffman (talk) 02:49, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
Sure and I think that we can all agree that the authors of this article were not careful enough in evaluating their sources. OTOH, I think that you yourself have not done enough reading to evaluate whether someone like Berger is really RS or not, relying mostly on the fact that he self-published the book in question. You missed the connection between Berger and Scherzer and discount that fact that Stackpole translated and published one of his books, probably because he uses some of the peacock and NPOV phrasing endemic to these sorts of works, even American or British ones. To my mind, that's the stuff that we as editors are here for, to extract the wheat from the chaff.
You spend your time here identifying sourcing and NPOV issues, and that's a valuable service, but I'll confess that I'm more than a little troubled by the fact that you make no effort to fix the problems that you discover and appear to have no interest in doing so. I don't know if that's because the best sources for KC winners are all in German, and you can't read German (just a guess), or what. As far as I'm concerned this significantly weakens your case for reworking these articles as it means that you cannot truly evaluate the sources as to their reliability. If you or somebody like ÄDA - DÄP VA were to tell me that the best German-language sources, like that multi-volume series on KC winners, the authors of which I'm drawing a blank on at the moment, cannot support a GA-quality article on some winner, I'd believe you, but since you can't, it causes some problems with my own assessment of your reliability as a researcher.
I hope that you weren't offended by this, because that's not my intent, but you seem very quick to judge books and authors on what appears to me to be insufficient evidence and it significantly weakens your case in my eyes. I'd be far happier if you were to borrow the books in question through Interlibrary loan (or buy them) and could provide scans of the relevant pages for somebody fluent in German to use to improve the articles in question (if you can't read German). ::I dunno, maybe we're talking past each other, you being so focused on how you believe various sources to be non-RS and how that taints an article and me saying that they're salvageable given the right sources, which are probably out there. I will say again that I think that you're doing Wiki a valuable service, but I'd be far happier if you were to follow WP:SOFIXIT and deal with them yourself, without sending articles for deletion or delisting.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 17:28, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
Comment: Here are the relevant comments by Assayer from the AfDs above regarding "the best German-language source, like that multi-volume series on KC winners" (Thomas & Wegmann); this editor is a German speaker:
  • Thomas & Wegmann collect the names and military biographies of KC recipients by using archival records directly related to the award process, but they did not conduct further research, e.g. look for other sources to verify the accounts. Their multiple volumes might suffice as a directory, but it does not mean that their account of the events which lead to an award is historically accurate. They merely reproduce the claims made within the context of the recommendation and, above all, the reasons officially given for the award. From AfD:Styr.
  • In 1990, when reviewing another publication by Thomas (and Manfred Dörr) on the bearers of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold, Reinhard Stumpf of the MGFA made clear that for the time being the research on military symbols would remain to be the domain of enthusiasts outside of professional historiography. (MGZ 47/1990, p. 298) (...) Even though it might be possible to reconstruct the military careers of each and every Knight's Cross recipients, these biographies present a distorted picture of the actual events (i.e., if the provision "played an important role in a significant military event" in WP:Soldier, is to be based on historical fact instead of Nazi propaganda). From AfD:Debus.
As can be seen from the AfD discussions this source was not deemed acceptable for WWII articles and all KC winner articles brought to AfD were either deleted or redirected. I believe that the same critique is likely to apply to Berger (given the evidence I presented). He may be correct in identifying all of the awards that can be confirmed via archives (same as Scherzer) but that does not mean he's RS for anything else. And listing all of these minor awards (including non exiting ones -- see sample) results in articles that are largely of interest to a "specialist audience", i.e. collectors of WWII German memorabilia, and/or full of fancruft, bordering on indiscriminate collections of information.
To sum this up, reliable historiography, that would be suitable as sources for encyclopedia articles, on highly decorated Wehrmacht / Waffen-SS personnel does not exist, unless they were notable for something else. WP:SOFIXIT does not apply to the large majority of these articles. Hence the suggestion that I should look for sources is not meaningful; information sourced to non RS should simply be deleted.
Regarding GA articles, my good faith attempts to correct sourcing, excessive intricate detail, and POV problems have been consistently reverted, for example:
The reverting editor further stated: "MB, feel free to bring to my attention any GA or higher articles that are getting this "treatment". I am happy to revert and ensure GAR/Milhist ACR/FAR processes are used" (link). Hence the GARs, including this one.
What would be helpful is for the @WP:MILHIST coordinators: to look at similar articles of which there are probably dozens. Here's a start: list of articles that use neo-Nazi publication Helden der Wehrmacht in the bibilography. These articles are GA / A-class, with one being a featured article. It boggles the mind that such a source would be considered acceptable and the article containing it be promoted by consensus. Some additional potentially problematic articles are listed on my user page, in the section Special mentions, including FA/GA articles. It would benefit the project to have more eyes on such articles. K.e.coffman (talk) 20:24, 9 October 2016 (UTC)
Well it could be that some minds are more easily boggled than others... I received the coordinator ping, so I'll open the batting re. Helden der Wehrmacht. Not being familiar with it, I searched a bit on the web and I found a couple of works that pointed out a nationalist connection, so I then went through each of the eight articles in which it appears to see how it was being used:
  • Helmut Wick: used once, in conjunction with another source, to cite him being the first Oak Leaves winner to die in combat.
  • Walter Oesau: used twice, once in conjunction with three other sources to cite a short paragraph on his early life, and then with two other sources to cite his Spanish Civil War record.
  • Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weißenfeld: used four times, in each case as the only source, for highlights of his wartime record including victories, decorations, and commands.
  • Helmut Lent: used once, in conjunction with another source, to cite his first aerial victory.
  • Heinrich Bär: used twice, once to cite a mention in the Wehrmachtbericht and then, in conjunction with two other sources, to cite a short paragraph on his post-war career and death.
  • Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein: used once, in the lead, to cite his posthumous Oak Leaves and Swords; this appears to be cited again, to a different source, in the main body.
  • Walther Dahl: referred to in the text but not used as a source.
  • Hans-Ulrich Rudel: ditto.
A bit of housekeeping: it's not one FA and the rest GA/A; two of the articles are FA, three are GA/A, two are GA, and one is Start. That out of the way, I understand concerns with citing information to this source given its authorship, but in no case did it appear to be used to cite extraordinary, laudatory, or otherwise unusual claims. If the consensus was to avoid the book entirely, I expect that most of the info in question could be cited to other works (it seems much of it is already) and the remainder would probably not hurt the articles too much if it were removed. Indeed, it's not a source in Dahl and Rudel, and it looks to me that it could be deleted from Sayn-Wittgenstein without altering the text; the other five articles would require further investigation. I'd like to see more input on it, but I note that the book isn't used in the article presently under review, so we might want to consider moving this to a more central location. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 10:05, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
@Ian Rose: Thank you for your comments. The Helden der Wehrmacht source has been removed in the course of this GAR; here the pre-GAR version with two citations to it: Sept 2016. Immortal German Soldiers is more of a symptom of hagiographic articles, such as this one, built on biased and / or non RS sources.
If a more complete list is desired, then this one may be fairly indicative of where to look for other problematic prose and sources: List of articles with Schaulen in bibliography (another neo-Nazi publication, according to ADA - DAP (60+ entries). If there's interest in looking at GA/A-class articles only, I could compile such a list (in addition to what's on my user page). I believe there's a planned initiative to re-look at GA articles and above, and I feel that articles on highly decorated German WWII personnel would be excellent candidates to be looked at first. K.e.coffman (talk) 01:00, 12 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment If I am not mistaken, Artl wrote the foreword. Berger is sometimes referred to by academic historians when it comes to awards. Reviews of his works, however, are scarce. I found one by Klaus Schreiber for the Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken, a journal to help librarians to assess publications. PDF The review is of the Ritterkreuzträger mit Nahkampfspange in Gold (2004) and quite sarcastic in its tone. I will translate parts of it. Florian Berger, who identifies himself as a "military historian" and "author of non-fiction books" in the head of his letter deals with the closely circumscribed field of the "heroes" of WW II, particularly of the German Wehrmacht, who were awarded with the Knight's Cross. [...] In alphabetic order the portraits convey loose information to the biographical facts, but focus on a retelling of the fighting, in which the soldier has participated. In addition there are b/w photos of the person with and without order, documents of approval and so forth, memorabilia and numerous other photos, in no relation to the person, of life at the front, German and foreign weapons and the like. So obviously there is still a market for publications such as this, even though hardly anyone of these recipients is still alive. Or maybe close-combat-clasp-specialist Manfred Dörr finds the right words for the consumers of such works in his foreword: "May this work find the most widespread circulation, to honor these soliders of the former German Wehrmacht! They only did their duty and to this and their fatherland, like all other brave soldiers of this world; in the past, and in the present and in the future. Don't forget them!" - This is in line with the opinions uttered by Florian Berger in his afterword, in which he wordily explains, what his answer is when he is asked, how he can deal with this subject. Ultimately one can see this as hero worship: "German and Austrian veterans lived for decades through smear campaigns and defamations and Knight's Cross recipients are after all the emblem of the former Wehrmacht." In other words, Berger carries on the narrative of the clean Wehrmacht, who fought expertly and gallantly like any other army. This is not, however, how the Wehrmacht is seen nowadays. To view KC recipients like Helbig out of context, is neither neutral nor historical. --Assayer (talk) 15:42, 1 November 2016 (UTC)

Factual accuracyEdit

  • Comment
  • ad Kurowski
I did a bit of digging and found the source for Kurowski's story about Helbig. IMO the problem with Kurowski is not only his POV but also his methodology. Kurowski basically takes someone else's work and enriches it with details for dramatic effect. He might spin a good yarn, but for our uses his publications are useless: the bits that can be verified, can be referenced to his sources, and the rest is just fiction. There might be a case about availability, as his publications are more affordable and hence more widely circulated.
  • ad Berger
I finally got hold of a copy of Scherzer's book. Scherzer has earned a reputation as a serious scholarly author, although he has no affiliation to any research institutions and it seems that his publishing house is basically supporting his own research. So, technically self-published, he should be considered more reliable than any other publication in this field. Now, Scherzer lists Berger as a collaborator on his 2007 book on Knight's Cross recipients, so some of Scherzer's reputation shines on Berger, who is doing pretty much the same thing in Austria that Scherzer is doing in Germany.
  • ad alii
Another issue with the article is that references are not checked critically against other available sources, e.g. SS Ellenis was not sunk in Piraeus, but in Patras. It's not of any significance to the article, but shows that the authors cited don't work to scholarly standards of reliability and verifiability. It would be the job of an editorial assistant to make sure that such errors are not perpetuated by indiscriminately copying from other works assuming someone down the line had checked the facts. The problem will be to find reliable scholarly sources on biographical material for many of the individuals we are dealing with here, as the scientific interest in these people is very limited. Without reliable sources we face the dilemma of either limiting the article to bare facts like date of birth, or spending a disproportionate amount of work on tracking down sources.
ÄDA - DÄP VA (talk) 13:21, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for weighing in, but Shores, Cull & Malizia credit Ellenis with being sunk in Piraeus. Taghon makes no claim about the ship in particular, but discusses LG 1's attacks on Piraeus and Chalcis. As far as I can tell, the Luftwaffe made no attacks on Patras that day, being mostly focused on the Athens area. What's your source that says differently?--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 16:27, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
I'm afraid it will be all Greek to you, but here it is. BTW, that's exactly the kind of critical approach I'm missing in many of the cited references.ÄDA - DÄP VA (talk) 18:00, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
You're right, not much I could do with that ;-) But did I see a reference to Ellenis being sunk on the 21st? If so perhaps you could append a note saying that the sources disagree when she was sunk? While I've not gotten to the 1943+ period yet, I'd be interested to know what else you've identified as problematic; I might be able to replace or improve the references and their facts.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 20:17, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
re:Ellenis here and here, the date is put as 21 April (Easter Monday according to Orthodox rite). There was a mention of Good Friday, which would have been 19 April.
Other problems I encountered regards the action of 15 August 1940. Brütting puts the number of aircraft at nine, Williamson obviously gets the date wrong, and Kurowski makes RNAS Worthy Down a seaport. Furthermore, sinking hospital ships would actually have been a war crime, only that they lacked the white coat of paint required by international law. In the case of Dronning Maud there is also an inconsitency with the dates, in the WP article and this source, the date is given as 1 May rather then 2 May. Apart from that, is there a chance to find out which ships were sunk by Helbig's flyers? ÄDA - DÄP VA (talk) 06:43, 9 October 2016 (UTC)
Leave it with me.
Plus, I fully agree with AustralianRupert's post on 3 October. Dapi89 (talk) 18:05, 17 October 2016 (UTC)

John Weal has another book out soon: Ju 88 Aces of World War II (title is a bit daft, I don't remember the Ju 88 serving in any other conflict). Could offer more info. Dapi89 (talk) 20:10, 18 October 2016 (UTC)

Wrapping upEdit

Where are we with this now? It seems to me the request to delist this article should be rejected, particularly in light of new additions. Dapi89 (talk) 17:42, 19 October 2016 (UTC)

Dapi89, I came by and saw this, but looking through this community reassessment I see many mentions of delisting (though only one !vote, from K.e.coffman), including CCCVCCCC and Roches, and I haven't seen any post that specifically says the article currently meets the GA criteria, or has been improved to the point that it does. (Perhaps these editors will wish to revisit their earlier assessments in light of the recent upgrades.) Your post could be interpreted as doing so, since that's the circumstance that means it should be kept as a GA; if it isn't there yet, then work on the article should continue until it does. (While the ultimate goal of a GAR is to bring the article back up to GA level, sometimes it isn't feasible to do so.) I can't close this at the present time. There's no real rush; the article continues to retain its GA listing while the reassessment is ongoing. BlueMoonset (talk) 06:31, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Appreciate the comments. If there are any specific instances that require re-sourcing, I'd appreciate it if these are pointed out so I can deal with it. I intend to have a look at the Norwegian phase of his combat career later today, time permitting. Dapi89 (talk) 10:44, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment -- The POV "industrial target specialist" language comes from yet another dubious source in this article, this time a book published by Merriam Press, a small-time militaria publisher. This imprint also runs Richard Landwehr's Siegrunen magazine, popular with the neo-Nazi crowd. Sample Siegrunen issues: link on their website. Here's a 2010 full issue for anyone interested: ink (PDF). K.e.coffman (talk) 23:44, 3 November 2016 (UTC)
  • This source / content was added after this discussion commenced (diff). In another recent edit, the descriptor hospital ship was take out (diff); compare with "flying Red Cross flags and carrying medical personnel" (diff).
Such edits make this article worse, not better, and I still advocate delisting. K.e.coffman (talk) 19:59, 4 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment I read the discussion above. The concerns regarding the eligibility of this article for GA status seems to stem mostly on concerns regarding the sources. I have no opinion on this, because I cant judge them as I have not much knowledge in soldiers biographies. What I want to ask is: What would be an acceptable RS for a subject like that? This way the non-RS may can get replaced. I think if that doesn't get clarified, there will be much more similar GAR's and additional endless discussions without a solution. Dead Mary (talk) 19:38, 5 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment That's a good question. I consider none of the literature used for this article as being up to the standards set forth in WP:SCHOLARSHIP. It is literature of a certain kind, which focuses on awards and presumed "achievements" and pretends to be non-political and merely documenting. Therefore, as I have argued, it subscribes to a certain image of, as in this case, an expertly and gallantly fighting Luftwaffe. It is ahistorical and impossible, however, to view the actions of historical actors within the values of the time. As Jürgen Habermas has put it: "The historian does not observe from the perspective of the actor. Rather, he describes events and actions from within the experimential horizon of a history that transcends the actor's horizon of expectations." ("Review of Gadamer's Truth and Method," 1977) There has not been much scholarship on individual fighter aces of the Luftwaffe. Some of it has to do with the lack of primary sources. Many documents of the Luftwaffe were destroyed at the end of the war, many systematically by the Luftwaffe themselves. So it's indeed the question whether GAs can be written on any subject, regardless of what kind of sources and what kind of literature is available. Are GAs to be based on sources which meet the standards of WP:SCHOLARSHIP? In the latter case I don't see a way to significantly improve the article about Helbig and the article should be delisted.--Assayer (talk) 16:11, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
  • @Dead Mary: Acceptable sources generally include those outlined in WP:MILMOS#SOURCES. ÄDA - DÄP states above: "Without reliable sources we face the dilemma of either limiting the article to bare facts like date of birth, or spending a disproportionate amount of work on tracking down sources" — I would take this further and say that finding such verifiable information would involve too much OR, or that such sources simply do not exist.
This point is born out by the fact that even after collaborative efforts of several editors, the article is still lacking in reliable sources. The subject does not appear to have played a significant role in military history to warrant attention to his biography from mainstream or academic authors; what’s in the article is mostly unreliable publications, such as "catalogue of KC winners" type of material (Stockert, Berger, Kaiser) and / or fringe / POV works (Brütting, Merriam Press, Berger). Nor has it been sufficiently demonstrated why works published by a small-time right-wing publisher (VDM Nickel) should be considered RS.
For example, the article still contains intricate detail cited exclusively to such material:
  • After completing his training as an observer and aerial gunner on 20 April 1937, he was posted to the 3rd Group (III. Gruppe) of Kampfgeschwader 152 "Hindenburg" in Schwerin. III./KG 152 became II. Gruppe of Lehrgeschwader 1 on 1 November 1938, where he started pilot training.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ Berger 1999, p. 120.
  2. ^ Schumann 2007, p. 80.
  3. ^ Taghon 2004a, pp. 22–23.
Three unreliable citations do not make the information they support worthy of inclusion. Hope this helps. K.e.coffman (talk) 01:50, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
While I recognize that you have the best of intentions, I must voice some concern at this point as I have real concerns about where this discussion is going. Forgive me if I misinterpreted, but essentially what is being stated is that none of the sources in this article qualify as WP:RS because they are not written by an "academic", right? That is a very high bar you are setting, and I doubt that many articles on Wikipedia would completely live up to it if you extrapolate it to its fullest. Many of the sources here are independent and published by mainstream publishers, which seems like the definition of a reliable source to me so long as they are used appropriately. Some are not, of course, and probably should be removed. However, please remember we are not writing (or re-writing for some of us) our PhDs. Wikipedia's job is to simply report what others say about something in a neutral manner and an editor shouldn't have to spend hours researching the book that they have on their shelf to see if it is acceptable. Wikipedia is meant to be accessible to the average person. The case for the removal of Berger seems solid to me in this case as it is a self published source, but what of the others in the article? What is wrong with Weal, Shores, Cull, Smith, Miller, Maclean, Hooton, et al? If you are going to state that they are not RS, please provide some evidence of this so it can be properly discussed rather than a blanket statement that they are all not reliable. I caveat all of this with this point: personally, I care not one jot about German bomber pilots, or anything else related to Germany's war effort. The Nazis were hideous and I have no interest in venerating them. But I do care about how the decisions that are being made here impact upon the project as a whole moving forward. If too high standards are set in one area, we essentially create either the perception of bias when it isn't applied consistently, or the expectation of perfection elsewhere. Wikipedia will not survive either of those. Regardless of what qualifications individuals bring, at the end of the day we are all volunteers – ergo amateurs – so we are setting ourselves up for failure if we expect our contributors to have the skills (and sources) of academics and professional researchers. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 06:31, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
I don't see this ( the need for reliable sources (added for clarity) as an excessive requirement, especially for a GA article. The guidelines are outlined in WP:RS and WP:MILMOS#SOURCE, and that's what I've been following. MacLean (as I understand) compiled efficiency reports (promotion recommendations, etc). Miller is suspect as coming from Merriam Press, which I mentioned above. Weal is a tertiary source, based on other uncritical accounts. Shores is RS, but he is cited once, etc. If Brütting et al. are removed, there won't be much left. GA status is expected to be reserved for articles that represent Wikipedia's best work, and this article does not, even in its less POV / non-Kurowski version.
The bottom line is there's no dearth of reliable sources on notable topics relating to WWII: the interest in it continues unabated and new books are being published by reputable historians all the time. What we have here is (IMO) a subject that is only marginally notable. If the bulk of sources on a subject are WP:QS then perhaps this topic does not warrant an extensive article? Wikipedia policies seem to suggest so, as it's not an indiscriminate collection of information. Otherwise, it runs the risk of turning into a collection of WP:MEMORIAL and / or fan pages. This is not needed, as such pages already exist elsewhere; see for example Aces of the Luftwaffe web site.
Which reminds me, I've recently had several discussions with an editor who had literally turned several Wiki articles into fan pages, by copying content from the site above (See User talk:K.e.coffman/Archive/2016/October#Luftwaffe pilots, as well as at Talk:Günther Seeger). Copyvios are obviously against policy, but new editors do need help in understanding which sources are suitable and which are not. K.e.coffman (talk) 08:08, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I remain concerned about your interpretation of what is and what isn't a reliable source for Wikipedia purposes, and your explanation does nothing to alleviate that concern. Unless I missed it, I don't see where you discuss Miller in any detail, other than offering your own opinion about Merriam Press being a small press. Is there any evidence that it is unreliable because of that fact? I will reiterate, we are not a university and this isn't a PhD that is being written. Our job is simply to tell people what other people have written. By discounting many of these sources, you are actually obscuring what has been written and setting an artificially high bar for a small set of articles. That is not to say that you have to swallow the POV of these sources, nor that they are all acceptable. Some clearly are not acceptable and in relation to the others you can adequately deal with POV and weight issues through proper attribution, well crafted prose and clarification about sources in text. If other sources tell a different story, then contrast them, but so far it seems the concerns are that they don't mention the whole story, even though we are apparently not sure what the whole story is...? Additionally, to correct your point above, FA represents Wikipedia's best work, not GA and we shouldn't be conflating the GA criteria to equal the FA criteria. That said, if you think this topic isn't notable, please just nominate it for deletion rather than continuing this review. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 11:35, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment: Like Rupert I share a nagging concern about the wider implications of where this is leading. I’ll concede immediately that I haven’t followed this issue closely in the past—and wont be in the future either—but it does seem to me that higher than normal standards ("excessive" even) may be being applied to some of the sourcing in this, and other similar articles, in regards to whether they qualify as “reliable” as defined by Wikipedia. Sure there are many things to consider and sometimes the specifics of a source will need to be considered carefully to determine if it should be used, or for what it is used for, yet on the whole we tend to be able to assume good faith as long as a source meets the basic requirements of WP:RS (and other related guidelines). I could understand if there were obviously extremist views being advanced in the article (and accept that some vigilance is prudent given the connection of the subject with Nazi Germany etc) but as near as I can tell that is not the issue here. Sure some sources used have been shown to have not met the criteria to be considered reliable and they mostly seem to have been addressed by being removed or replaced, but there seems to be others that probably would be considered suitable / RS in any other article that are being dismissed here if there were not written by an “academic”. That is not a requirement of WP:RS, and clearly numerous sources currently being used in our many articles at the moment would not pass that test if it were. As such applying it here would indeed result in a double standard, and ultimately a self defeating and unsustainable one. At its heart it is elitist and the vast majority of our articles wouldn’t make the grade, while neither would most of our editors (myself included). A good article only needs to be just that and nothing more (that is why we have A class and FA above it, while perfection is obviously not expected or req’d there either). In the end Wikipedia is the product of an imperfect compromise between user generated content and necessary measures for quality control. Attempting to impose doctoral level research standards on a subset of our articles will result in driving away otherwise valuable contributors (volunteers like the rest of us) due to the atmosphere it will create, and may—at its extension—ultimately end in the failure of the project (see what happened to Citizendium for instance, which requires contributions to be peer reviewed by “topic experts”). Of cse I do see the value in scrutiny and occasional review of our content, but I’d prefer to see it being done with the aim of improving articles through fixing problems, rather than simply delisting them. That said I have no knowledge of these subjects, and no interest, and cannot offer any assistance in fixing them either so at best I offer my opinion as a bystander (and a hypocritical one at that). For that reason I don’t feel qualified to make an assessment of whether this particular article should be kept as a GA, or delisted, so will leave that up to others to decide. TLDR? Yes, sorry about that. Anotherclown (talk) 11:10, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment -- I've had an article go through GA and one the reviewers' comments was: ""Good articles should exemplify some of our best work", so I don't see how this requirement is excessive or should be reserved for FA articles only. "Our job is simply to tell people what other people have written" is not how I interpret WP:RS, which states "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published sources". In this case, many sources are "published" but it has not been sufficiently demonstrated what makes them reliable.
Publishers are part of the source evaluation, and both VDM Nickel and Merriam Press fall under WP:QS. The burden is generally on those who would like to use a source to demonstrate that it is reliable, but here's a few passages from The Myth of the Eastern Front, discussing the "gurus" (Landwehr, Kurowski, etc):
  • "In some cases, as their [gurus'] appeal grows they graduate up the scale of publishing importance from self-publishing to the myriad small presses, such as Schiffer, Bibiophile Legion Books, Merriam Press; to the top, particularly to the Fedorowicz publishing house. (...) To be published through Fedoroticz is to have arrived". "Merriam Press later published the Siegrunen monographs of Richard Landwehr".[1]


  1. ^ * Smelser, Ronald; Davies, Edward J. (2008). The Myth of the Eastern Front: The Nazi-Soviet War in American Popular Culture. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83365-3., pp. 158, 184.
(Fedorwicz has a very poor reputation on Wikipedia as a source, and Merriam Press is one step below it).
On a general note, how does what I've written contradict the GA and WP:RS requirements? K.e.coffman (talk) 15:54, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
GA articles should represent quality, I agree, but the standard is not meant to be pitched at FA level. For instance, Wikipedia:What the Good article criteria are not: "The standards for GAs are fairly high, but noticeably lower than the Featured article criteria." The level of scrutiny that is being applied here is beyond that which I have seen at GA. Beyond that, I've provided my opinion. While I agree with many of your concerns, I disagree with others. I remain concerned that you are falling into the trap of holding these and similar articles to a standard that is potentially too harsh. Nevertheless, I agree with you that in its current form it is not a GA; I disagree with you, though, about what needs to be done to bring it back up to GA. Anyway, that's my opinion and I do not intend to comment further for concern that this will just keep dragging on. The worst that can happen here is for the debate to continue without a resolution like the Strachwitz review. Hopefully some other editors will come to the review and offer an opinion so it can be closed one way or another and we can move on. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 11:49, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment I have not found anything in WP:SCHOLARSHIP that would warrant the conclusion, that RS are only produced by "academics". The whole section is about review of various kinds, i.e., other people, who can be considered qualified to do so, tell you whether a source is reliable or not by reviews and the like. If a source is considered to be reliable it should be easy to substantiate that with some references. You could easily show, for example, that Hooton is a respected author in the field. As such he is mentioned in a Reader's Guide to Military History by Charles Messenger and his claims are discussed by a historian like Philip Sabin. But does Hooton deal with Joachim Helbig at all? Without checking the credentials of Shores/Cull, what do they have to say about Helbig? He is not listed in their detailed index. Publishers like VDM Nickel do not have the reputation for fact-checking and accuracy that WP:RS requires. Yet, as it is practiced here, the burden of proof is routinely reversed. That is not only unfair, but becomes an impossibility, the less attention a source has generated. The job is not simply to tell people what every other person has written, but to give an accurate account of the mainstream view. By accepting all of these sources just because they have been written, you give a wrong impression as to what military historiography is about and accept information with dubious credibility. Yes, this kind of literature can be proven wrong on certain issues with the help of other sources, but would anyone accept my word and my primary research for it? I doubt it. In some respects Wikipedia sets higher standards than a PhD., because you don't deal with primary source and you cannot maintain your own POV. Thus it is even more important to carefully assess the sources . After all, there is not much difference between GA and FA criteria and an AfD discussion. It all boils down to the question of how we deal with these sources. Notability would be maintained on the basis of the very same sources upon which some want to keep it as a GA and you just might as well nominate it for FA status and let others try to show that these sources are not high-quality. But maybe these general issues should be discussed elsewhere with more input from other users.--Assayer (talk) 18:16, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
P.S. I reviewed Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Assessment/Joachim Helbig, where the nominator was asked to use the history of LG 1 by Peter Taghon. That work is held by only a few German libraries. It is still in print, but quite expensive. I find it strange when it is argued that the bar should not be set "artificially high" in terms of evaluation of literature and sources, so that Wikipedia remains "accessible to the average person", while it seems self-evident that literature is being used and asked for that I would consider literally inaccessible, because it is rare and hard to get. Talking about Taghon's book, it is designed to be a chronicle and documentation, based upon memoirs and documents of veterans.--Assayer (talk) 02:10, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
I don't know the situation you refer to about Taghon, so I can't really comment on that, although I agree that it sounds problematic; however, I will clarify my concern. It is regarding your statement: "I consider none of the literature used for this article as being up to the standards set forth in WP:SCHOLARSHIP." Leaving aside the point about whether they cover this topic specifically (because I cannot comment on that), works like Weal, Shores and Cull, etc. seem very much like mainstream works, and as such the types of books that the average person wishing to contribute to Wikipedia might cite. Thus it creates a dangerous precedent to set down a blanket statement that such sources are not RS without providing evidence of that as it leads to precedents being misunderstood, which will potentially be applied elsewhere and result in new editors being given the wrong impression and most likely scared away. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 11:49, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Rupert, and to an extent, AnotherClown. It appears to me that this is a part of a wider campaign to destroy articles like this: particularly K.e.Coffman who frequently makes large deletions to articles without discussion. It appears the strategy here is to set the threshold of reliable sources so absurdly high that anything added to this article, regardless of the author or his publisher, can be regarded as non reliable. I see Hooton is now also under attack and for no good reason. Hooton is an expert on the operations of the Luftwaffe. The wing and group this man led belonged to that organisation. By default he can be considered reliable, after all Hooton is intimately familiar with the way the Luftwaffe worked. Many claims can be cross-referenced with other combatants loss records, particularly the British and Americans and Hooton has also done work in this field. He doesn't need to be familiar with the personal life or career of Helbig. The same for Shores and Cull. Dapi89 (talk) 10:58, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
For matters of clarification: I might have been mistaken and overly harsh in generalizing that none of the literature used for this article meets WP:SCHOLARSHIP. I would maintain, however, that the bulk of specific references is to sources that are not up to that standard and I do not know any sources to substitute those. That someone could perceive it to be "an attack" when I call someone like Hooton "a respected author in the field" was beyond my imagination.--Assayer (talk) 20:50, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
I believe that editor Dapi may be referring in part to this edit (diff), which reverted my good faith attempt to reduce the amount of intricate and inconsequential detail, including, for example, the registration number of the subject's car ( "AWW 44-3425") and GPS coordinates of where the traffic accident occurred (44°42′04″N 0°42′20″W / 44.70111°N 0.70556°W / 44.70111; -0.70556 (Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer road accident)), and many more. I believe my edit was following the "summary style" approach and was an improvement, but for another discussion. K.e.coffman (talk) 18:17, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
I have not posted a comment here as I don't write on Luftwaffe personnel. From a quick view of the article it seems that it could use a little copy edit work on words used; I don't know the sources used, so I will be judge them. As for RS standards for GA, mainstream works are allowed (as they should be; as long as not pov pushers or fringe or blatantly not RS) but certainly the bar should not be only those produced by "academics". There has to be balance here; this article is for general readers and this project is voluntary and frankly many publishers are a mixed bag when it comes to books they publish on a subject such as World War II and Nazi Germany. Kierzek (talk) 18:32, 11 November 2016 (UTC)
I don't believe that it's been argued that only academic sources are allowed; for example, I said above "mainstream or academic authors". The problem with the article as it stands, even after recent improvements, is that the majority of citations are not to the mainstream sources. By looking at the current article, I see 20 citations to Berger, Taghon, Schumann, Miller and Stockert combined, vs 5 citations to Weal, Hooton, MacLean and Shores, with the latter being mostly about the unit overall or other events, rather than the subject himself. For example:
  • In June 1942, British commandos targeted Helbig's unit at their base in Heraklion, and succeeded in blowing up seven Ju 88s.[1]
  • The small passenger liner SS Ellenis of 876 GRT, carrying 278 wounded, was sunk on 20 April in Patras and SS Ioanna of 1,192 GRT was sunk on 21 April in the same harbour.[2]


  1. ^ Hooton 1997, p. 212.
  2. ^ Shores, Brian Cull 1992, p. 405.
I don't see the mainstream authors covering the subject of "Joachim Helbig" directly and in detail, or am I missing something? K.e.coffman (talk) 19:05, 11 November 2016 (UTC)

Not wrapping upEdit

Still up to your habit of slandering material you haven't personally examined or even dug into the author's background, eh? I told you that I owned a copy of Taghon and that it was RS by every stretch of the imagination, yet you still persist in claiming that it's not RS, presumably because it was published by VDM Nickel. If you don't believe my assessment that it isn't RS how am I to take your assessment of all the books that you believe to be non-RS that I haven't read? You know a bit about the various KC books, but know very little about Luftwaffe books, and don't appear to realize that. I know very little about KC books and am willing to defer to your opinion on those books that I haven't read, but you are apparently not willing to do the same. If you'd done even a modicum of research you could have found out that Peter Taghon is an author who several books on WW2 history in Dutch, French and German with a variety of publishing houses. I'll even include here the Worldcat to his bibliography for your edification.

And I'll reiterate my previous comments and echo most of the previous commenters that you're setting the bar too high in judging what's RS. Academic authors don't generally write about such specialized topics as aviator biographies, individual ouvrages of the Maginot Line and ships, forex; no, they write about more general aspects of the subjects like organizational histories, place in the culture of the country and general shipbuilding programs. The detailed and technical stuff is generally left to non-academics who are interested enough in the topic to invest years, and often, their own money, to research their topics. Some of their work isn't worth the paper it's printed on, but much is worthwhile, but they need to be examined on a case-by-case basis. I also find your attitude rather insulting to non-academic authors like Barbara Tuchman and Martin Middlebrook who have done superb work without the resources of a university and are often far less prone to academic fads. Middlebrook was a English poultry farmer, for Christsakes, who interviewed survivors of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, a resource almost totally ignored by academic historians, and almost single-handedly overturned the reigning paradigm of WWI studies and revitalized that field. But you would deny somebody like him any mastery over his topic just because he lacks academic standing.

Mainstream means not fringe, like conspiracy theorists or UFO cultists; I dunno what definition you're using. I'll grant you that there's definitely a pro-Nazi fringe out there, and a general purge of Kurowski from biographical articles is definitely in order under that rubric, but I'm not at all sure that I agree with you about the other authors that you deem non-RS because you've shown me that you are biased on this topic by your persistence in naming authors like Taghon non-RS. I've been very clear in stating that I derive my judgements from examining the works themselves, but it seems that you are very quick to pronounce judgement without taking the time to fully examine the evidence. I think that you would do well to do the same thing to avoid unjustly tarring authors as unreliable when that's not the case. You also might want to examine the possibility that some of your own sources like Smelser might be biased themselves. Just because they're academics doesn't make them immune to bias.

I'm both pleased and dismayed that you've finally started editing the article in accordance with your standards, however much I might disagree with them. Pleased in that you're finally actually doing some of the work as opposed to just sniping from the sidelines and dismayed in that you've cut out a lot of material that I deem both relevant and pertinent. You seem to have a very narrow view of what's appropriate for a article where length is not a concern as I've commented before. Personally, I consider most incidents that happen to a unit relevant to a biography of that unit's commander as he's in command and responsible. Now I have to go back in and restore all that and I'm honestly not looking forward to the task as I'd rather be working on South African frigates and the like for the Africa De-stubathon. But you're welcome to come and examine my sources for any pro-apartheid biases!--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 03:50, 12 November 2016 (UTC)

If there are concerns about Smelser, then here's a page for more information: Ronald Smelser, as well as The Myth of the Eastern Front, which offers multiple reviews of the book. Have RS evaluated Taghon's work in a similar fashion? Are there reviews of the book that we could look at? So far we only have one editor's opinions that it's RS which I do not find sufficient. K.e.coffman (talk) 04:18, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
Taghon's probably only been reviewed in German-language aviation history magazines and possibly on English-language fora that I'm sure that you'd find insufficiently academically rigorous. But, again, you don't seem to grasp that, in general, the default judgement on Wiki is that a book is RS; it needs to be deemed non-RS by an authoritative source.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 15:19, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
I've reverted the last round of opinion-driven deletions. Dapi89 (talk) 08:31, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
Pardon me if I question the rationale behind this revert diff, as it comes form the editor who strenuously objected, across multiple fora, to the removal of Kurowski from the Otto Kittel page -- hence the 30,000-word Franz Kurowski article and the subsequent GAR. That article was delisted, with dubious content purged. (Here's the Kittel article prior to recent changes). So whose "opinions" are at play here is a matter of some debate.
The article is currently failing criterion #4: "It is not stable due to edit warring on the page" and should be delisted. K.e.coffman (talk) 08:44, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
We're not going to have a drawn-out debate about what is, and what isn't, an opinion or who is giving them. The facts speak for themselves. Citing someone else's work is not an opinion. Removing them on the grounds of intricate detail and accusing them of bias, is.
If you'd like to cast your mind back, I'd asked you repeatedly to show sources on where, how and why Kurowski was unreliable on Kittel. You prevaricated for quite some time, and still haven't shown any direct evidence. I also find your comments on Hooton and Weal disturbing, and I would repeat the comments from Sturmvogel 66. Needless to say, Kittel will be revisited and your apparent desire to reduce that article to a few lines will be undone. The same goes for this article.
Further, I'm getting tired of the misleading edit summaries you leave on articles directing editors to check a discussion which you say gives you carte blanche to undertake deletions on an enormous scale. I come to them to find no such agreement was ever made. Opinions indeed! Dapi89 (talk) 09:45, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
Are you also seriously suggesting this article should be delisted on the grounds there is an apparent edit war, which you started!? You will really try anything and everything to get this article taken down won't you. Dapi89 (talk) 09:50, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
I wish you hadn't rolled most of coffman's edits back as I wanted to keep the ones that were worthwhile. Oh, well, I'll work my way through it, once I get back from the Library of Congress on Monday to see what really happened on 15 August since I don't have Bergstrom to hand.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 15:10, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
  • "I'd asked you repeatedly to show sources on where, how and why Kurowski was unreliable on Kittel" -- right, because it's not a completely impossible thing to do. Kurowski wrote over 400 books, including on such obscure subjects as Kittel, so it seems highly improbable that there would be another source that would discuss Kurowski's coverage of Kittel, right? Several editors attempted to clarify:
  • "Sorry, that's not how it works. A source is not considered reliable by default and only becomes unreliable with respect to particular statements explicitly refuted by other sources. On the contrary, the onus to show reliability is on whoever proposes the source. In this case, the source has been seriously criticised, so we would need a very strong argument indeed to accept it."
The response was "No Stephan, no. A clear lack of understanding."
I would be curious to know if editor Dapi considers Kurowski a reliable source at this time. K.e.coffman (talk) 20:59, 12 November 2016 (UTC)
The misleading edit summaries continue. If Sturmvogel wants to specify what he wishes to keep then I have no issue with that. But Coffeman shouldn't assume it was the deletion of reliable sources. And if it is, then I've got a problem with it. I also have a problem with you attacking Bergstrom and attaching weasel word tags to his statements. Once again you're targeting good sources without justification.
Your response is evasive as usual. If you had evidence that Kurowski is unreliable on Kittel (and it IS just about Kittel) then you would have presented it. You haven't. Simple as that. These 400 books have nothing to do with the subject. And no, you claim he's unreliable, you prove it. He's innocent until proven otherwise. Do you understand? Else it is nothing more than your opinion. That's how it works. It's laughable to suggest otherwise Dapi89 (talk) 15:16, 13 November 2016 (UTC)
I took the question whether Taghon is a RS to Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard#Additional input sought for a GAR re sources. As to former Nazi propaganda writer, youth literature and Landser-pulp author Kurowski, I do not think that this merits further discussion.--Assayer (talk) 17:31, 13 November 2016 (UTC)
I've left some comments there. I'm not convinced why you're asking for opinions when there is no cause for it. If Taghon was unreliable, I'm certain we would have seen the critic's source already.
As for Kurwoski, the fact remains. Incidentally, the information on Kittel can be sourced from others. But of course, no matter who by or when, I'm sure Coffeman will object, as he has done to Austrian and German Archive–assessed sources. Dapi89 (talk) 17:57, 13 November 2016 (UTC)
Since we are still on the topic of Kurowski, I would be curious to know if editor Dapi considers him to have been a reliable source for the Kittel article. K.e.coffman (talk) 00:44, 14 November 2016 (UTC)
None of the information given by Kurowski has been contradicted or proven false by other sources or you. I've collected information from a whole host of other sources that make your opinions on him (and mine) redundant. Dapi89 (talk) 18:30, 14 November 2016 (UTC)
So it's a "Yes" then? And this version of the article Dec 2015 was built on reliable sources? K.e.coffman (talk) 19:47, 14 November 2016 (UTC)
You read the above, I assume you did so properly. It can be restored to that condition with other verifiable sources. Dapi89 (talk) 19:01, 15 November 2016 (UTC)

─────────────────────────This whole thing is of a piece with an ongoing campaign by coffmann (with a supporting role by Assayer), to remove all sources they don't deem worthy from a large number of articles, using a ridiculously high bar, and never ever refusing to drop the stick regardless of the feedback they get from experienced editors. I'm frankly sick to death of it, and from the comments above, I'm clearly not on my own. It is wasting a lot of people's time that could be spent writing articles, and is detracting from the enjoyment of the volunteer editors who actually contribute to this encyclopaedia. What possible harm could come from using some of these sources for the bare facts they are being used to support? There isn't anything pro-Nazi being added to the articles by using these sources, even if koffmann's claims about the publishers were proven. The whole pattern of behaviour is tendentious, especially with the parallel discussions at RSN (which also go nowhere), and the complete lack of acceptance by coffmann that community norms rule on WP, not his personal views. Sooner or later, someone is going to look at this campaign in detail and report it at ANI. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 01:57, 20 November 2016 (UTC)

Summing upEdit

Summing up for any potential closer:

  • 1 editor (the nominator -- myself) iVoted for delisting: K.e.coffman
  • 3 editors mentioned delisting, although without submitting a formal iVote: Assayer; Roches; CCCVCCCC
  • 1 editor mentioned that the article is currently not at GAR, but could possibly be brought up back to the GAR level: AustralianRupert (quote: "I agree with you that in its current form it is not a GA; I disagree with you, though, about what needs to be done to bring it back up to GA.")
  • 8 editors commented on the discussion without expressing an opinion as to keeping / delistings: Sturmvogel, Kierzek, DeadMary, Auntieruth55, ÄDA - DÄP VA, Peacemaker67, Ian Rose, Anotherclown
  • 1 editor advocated keeping the article as GA, although without submitting an iVote: Dapi89.

I think I captured everything. K.e.coffman (talk) 02:47, 28 November 2016 (UTC)

Additional comments by ShearoninkEdit

I am going to deal with a completely different matter entirely than what all has been mentioned above - the sourcing/phraseology/possible POV etc It concerns me that the article does such an incredible leap in time in the 1943–45 career section. In one sentence he's surrendering to the Allies in 1945, in the next one he's working post-war in an unnamed civilian profession and in the last sentence he's dying 40 years later...
What did he do in the intervening years? This is a WP:BIO, it should tell the story of the man's entire life. So where are the details about those 4 decades? Even Bergstrom's Battle of Britain: An Epic Conflict... mentions that he was the director of a brewery and also the name of the brewery. It's one of the largest breweries in Germany, I don't understand why his employment there isn't mentioned in the article. Shearonink (talk) 03:49, 30 December 2016 (UTC)

@Shearonink: G'day, this is certainly a fair point, IMO. Do you have page numbers and the name of the brewery? In my opinion, this would be a fair addition to the article, but I do not have access to the source, otherwise I'd add it myself. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 22:00, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
Actually, I have taken a look through the article history and see that some of this information (about the brewery) was actually removed from the article awhile ago: [3] I think it might have been removed due to concerns about the sourcing of the information. Anyway, I found a Google snippet view of Bergstrom p. 127, so I've added this to the article. This is my edit: [4]. That is probably all I can do, to help in this regard, though, sorry. I wonder if potentially the header "1943–45 career" shouldn't be changed. Potentially "Later military career and post war life"? Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 22:19, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict)::Yeah, if it is mentioned in the lead, then it should be given some more details in the main text. Helbig was the director of the Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss-Brauerei brewery, one of the largest in Germany. This is mentioned on Page 127 of Battle of Britain: An Epic Conflict Revisited by Christer Bergstrom ("became director of the Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss brewery") and on Page 41 of Luftwaffe Aces: German Combat Pilots of World War II by Franz Kurowski ("manager of a well0known brewery in Berlin"). The German WP has an article on Helbig, in it is an unsourced statement that Helbig "...On 9 June 1945, Helbig fled and hid himself unrecognized in West Germany for years. Later, he was managing director of Schultheiss brewery in Berlin (West)." Shearonink (talk) 22:45, 30 December 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, it is probably best not to reference Kurowski for this information in the article, given that this source has been the subject of earlier concerns in the review and elsewhere. I believe Bergstrom is probably ok for this information, but I will leave that to the other reviewers to comment. Some of the issues surrounding the lack of information about the remaining 40 years of the subject's life may stem from concerns about the sources that actually mention this information. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 00:27, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
I am somewhat aware of the issues that people have with Kurowski, but the man lived for 40 years after the war...somehow. But if the information doesn't appear in references, then oh well. Shearonink (talk) 00:33, 31 December 2016 (UTC)
@AustralianRupert: Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss-Brauerei was formed as late as 2006, when Berliner Kindl teamed up with Schultheiss. Before that there was Schultheiss and, after a merger in 1972, the Dortmunder Union-Schultheiss Brauerei AG, renamed in 1988 to Brau und Brunnen. Schultheiss always remained a brand brewed in Berlin.--Assayer (talk) 00:58, 18 January 2017 (UTC)
@Assayer: G'day, would you suggest just saying "Schultheiss" and piping it to Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss-Brauerei? Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 10:39, 19 January 2017 (UTC)
That's how it's been done in the German Wikipedia. Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss-Brauerei is certainly anachronistic. Besided, it seems as if Helbig was managing the brewery plant in Berlin, and not the whole Schultheiss brewery business. Another question is, if there are really some valuable information to be gained by linking to that article, and if not a simple "brewery" would do.--Assayer (talk) 17:17, 19 January 2017 (UTC)
Thanks. @Shearonink:: what are your thoughts on this approach? Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 09:09, 20 January 2017 (UTC)
Makes sense to me. Shearonink (talk) 14:50, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

───────────────────────── No worries, I made the following change: [5]. Please feel free to adjust if you think it needs further work. Thanks for your time. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 23:33, 20 January 2017 (UTC)


I am closing these old GARs and I shudder when I look at this one. I am hoping all the participants here can come to a consensus as to whether in its current state (this version) the article meets the good article criteria. It has been open long enough (with three months since the last comment) and there is plenty of advice above about what does or does not need fixing, so I am hoping for a simple Keep or Delist. @K.e.coffman, AustralianRupert, Dapi89, Assayer, Sturmvogel 66, Auntieruth55, ÄDA - DÄP, Shearonink, Kierzek, Anotherclown, Dead Mary, Ian Rose, Carbrera, Peacemaker67, BlueMoonset, MisterBee1966, Roches, and CCCVCCCC:

@K.e.coffman, AustralianRupert, Dapi89, Assayer, Sturmvogel 66, Auntieruth55, ÄDA - DÄP, Shearonink, Kierzek, Anotherclown, Dead Mary, Ian Rose, Carbrera, Peacemaker67, BlueMoonset, MisterBee1966, Roches, and CCCVCCCC: AIRcorn (talk) 07:52, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

  • Delist -- the concerns about the article have not been sufficiently rectified; pls see a recent 3rd party comment (March 2017) re a disputed "Unreliable sources" tag: "This does put them [the source], at best, at the low end of usability. At worst they are not reliable at all. The tag still appears reasonable." [6] /via Richard Keatinge. Given the insufficient RS, I don't believe its possible to build an NPOV bio of the subject to a GA level. K.e.coffman (talk) 06:37, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.