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perception of Admiral Helfrich

June 7 2010 at 7:23 AM
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Nelson  (no login)

Response to Re: Dutch Perception Of Admiral Helfrich


When you write

> An incomplete discussion and the use of rather subjective subjective adverbs such as "fanatical" gives me the impression that we are already branding Helfrich. I'm not against pointing out his errors after the fact (like the Monday Morning Quarterbacks that we are), but only on a fair basis. >

of course, you're quite correct. We ought to be able to discuss Admiral Helfrich openly and objectively, without resorting to name calling, character assassination, and above all, prejudging him. While I have long believed that Helfrich exhibited inflexibility and intransigence, I fully recognize that calling him "fanatical", particularly before the discussion is fully developed, is hardly objective and equitable. I withdraw my half of the imputation that in his inability to perceive Java and other parts of the NEI as another line of defense in the Malay Barrier, Helfrich was being fanatical. I would point out that in framing the original question, Tom Womack inquired as to Helfrich's professional ability and what level of esteem he enjoyed among the Dutch, and fair enough. Having retracted the use of that word, I assert it is eminently fair to ask how competently Conrad Helfrich filled his position, how really capable he was as a naval strategist, and how professionally he conducted his part of WWII. It is immaterial how well he was liked, IMO.

I would point out, though your criticism is on the mark, that General Douglas MacArthur has been called a deal worse in this forum, with "megalomaniac", "one of the poorest generals of the war", and "stealer" of the Canadian gear intended for the two infantry battalions sent to Hong Kong, depriving them of their motor transport and Bren carriers, and thus losing the entire place. That sort of nonsense forced me to be Mac's defender, a position I didn't particularly relish. I still have not read what standards and guidelines his detractors are using to call him incapable.

Start with what you know and go from there, is my advice. One hopes you don't come up against the views of the resident boys' club.


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