All About Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel(1)…
|Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel|
|15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944 (aged 52)|
Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel
|Nickname||Wüstenfuchs (Desert Fox)|
|Place of birth||Heidenheim, Kingdom of WürttembergGerman Empire|
|Place of death||Herrlingen, Germany|
|Resting place||Cemetery of Herrlingen|
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1911–1944|
|Commands held||7th Panzer Division
Panzer Army Africa
Army Group Africa
Army Group B
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Pour le Mérite
Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds
Military Merit Cross (Austria-Hungary)
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel ( listen (help·info)) (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944), popularly known as the Desert Fox(Wüstenfuchs, listen (help·info)), was a famous German Field Marshal of World War II.
He was a highly decorated officer in World War I, awarded the Pour le Mérite for his exploits on the Italian front. In World War II, he further distinguished himself as the commander of the Ghost Division during the 1940 invasion of France. However, it was his leadership of German and Italian forces in the North African campaign that established the legend of the Desert Fox. He is considered to have been one of the most skilled commanders of desert warfare in the war. He later commanded the German forces opposing the Allied cross-channel invasion in Normandy.
Rommel is regarded as a chivalrous and humane officer because his Afrikakorps was never accused of any war crimes. Soldiers captured during his Africa campaign were reported to have been treated humanely; furthermore, he ignored orders to kill capturedJewish soldiers and civilians in all theaters of his command.
Late in the war, Rommel joined the conspiracy against Adolf Hitler, but he opposed the failed 20 July Plot of 1944 to kill the dictator. Because of his great prestige, Hitler allowed him to commit suicide rather than be tried and executed. He was buried with full military honors; the reason for Rommel’s death only emerged at the Nuremberg Trials.
Early life and career…
Rommel was born in Heidenheim, 45 kilometres (28 mi) from Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg (then part of the German Empire). He was baptised on 17 November 1891. He was the second child of the Protestant headmaster of the secondary school atAalen, Professor Erwin Rommel Senior (1860–1913), and Helene von Luz, who had two other sons and a daughter. Rommel wrote that „my early years passed quite happily.”
At age 14, Rommel and a friend built a full-scale glider that was able to fly short distances. Rommel even considered becoming anengineer and throughout his life displayed extraordinary technical aptitude. Acceding to his father’s wishes, Rommel instead joined the local 124th Württemberg Infantry Regiment as an officer cadet in 1910 and was sent to the Officer Cadet School in Danzig. He graduated on 15 November 1911 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in January 1912.
While at Cadet School, Rommel met his future wife, 17-year-old Lucia Maria Mollin (commonly called Lucie). They married on 27 November 1916 in Danzig and on 24 December 1928 had a son, Manfred Rommel, who later became the Mayor of Stuttgart. Some historians believe Rommel also had an affair with Walburga Stemmer in 1913, which allegedly produced a daughter, Gertrud.
World War I…
During World War I, Rommel fought in France as well as in Romania (see: Romanian Campaign) and Italy (see: Italian Campaign), first in the 6th Württemberg Infantry Regiment, but through most of the war in the Württemberg Mountain Battalion of the élite Alpenkorps. He gained a reputation for great courage, making quick tactical decisions and taking advantage of enemy confusion. He was wounded three times and awarded the Iron Cross; First and Second Class. Rommel also received Prussia’s highest medal, the Pour le Mérite, after fighting in the mountains of west Slovenia—the Battles of the Isonzo on the Soča front. The award was for the Battle of Longarone and the capture of Mount Matajur and its defenders, totaling 150 Italian officers, 9,000 men, and 81 artillery pieces. His battalion used chemical warfare gas during the battles of the Isonzo and also played a key role in the victory over the Italian Army at theBattle of Caporetto. Rommel for a time served in the same infantry regiment as Friedrich Paulus. While fighting at Isonzo, Rommel was behind Italian lines and escaped capture though almost all of his staff was taken prisoner by the Italians. Later, when the German and Italian armies were allies during the Second World War, Rommel tempered his initial disdain of Italian soldiers, when he realised that their lack of success was principally due to poor leadership and equipment, which when overcome made them equal to the German forces.
Career between the world wars…
Rommel turned down a post in the Truppenamt (the camouflaged General Staff), whose existence was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles—the normal path for advancing to high rank in the German army. Instead, he preferred to remain a frontline officer.
Rommel held battalion commands and was an instructor at the Dresden Infantry School from 1929 to 1933. In 1934, his book for infantry training, “Gefechts-Aufgaben für Zug und Kompanie : Ein Handbuch fuer den Offizierunterricht“ (Combat tasks for platoon and company: A manual for the officer instruction), appeared. This book was printed until 1945 in five editions, with revisions and changes of title. From 1935 to 1938, Rommel held commands at the Potsdam War Academy. Rommel’s war diaries, Infanterie greift an (Infantry Attacks), published in 1937, became a highly regarded military textbook and attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler, who placed Rommel in charge of the War Ministry liaison with the Hitler Jugend’s (Hitler Youth), Headquarters of Military Sports, the branch involved with paramilitary activities, primarily terrain exercises and marksmanship. Rommel applied himself energetically to the task. The army provided instructors to the Hitler Jugend Rifle School in Thuringia, which in turn supplied qualified instructors to the HJ’s regional branches.
In 1937, Rommel conducted a tour of Hitler Jugend meetings and encampments and delivered lectures on German soldiering while inspecting facilities and exercises. Simultaneously, he was pressuring Baldur von Schirach, the Hitler Jugend leader, to accept an agreement expanding the army’s involvement in Hitler Jugend training. Schirach interpreted this as a bid to turn the Hitler Jugend into an army auxiliary, a „junior army” in his words. He refused and denied Rommel (whom he had come to dislike personally, apparently out of envy for his „real soldier’s” appeal) access to the Hitler Jugend. An agreement was concluded, but on a far more limited scope than Rommel sought; cooperation was restricted to the army’s providing personnel to the rifle school. By 1939 the Hitler Jugend had 20,000 rifle instructors. Simultaneously, Rommel retained his place at Potsdam. Rommel was awarded the highest war ribbons for excellent performance.
In 1938 Rommel, now a colonel, was appointed Kommandant (commander) of the War Academy at Wiener Neustadt (Theresian Military Academy). Rommel was removed after a short time, however, to take command of Adolf Hitler’s personal protection battalion (FührerBegleitbataillon), assigned to protect him in the special railway train (Führersonderzug) used during his visits to occupied Czechoslovakia and Memel. It was during this period that he met and befriended Joseph Goebbels, the Reich’s minister of propaganda. Goebbels became a fervent admirer of Rommel and later ensured that Rommel’s exploits were celebrated in the media.