The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man… Thomas Robert MALTHUS

All About Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel(2)…

World War II…

Poland 1939…

Rommel continued as Führerbegleitbataillon commander during the Polish campaign, often moving up close to the front in the Führersonderzug and seeing much of Hitler. After the Polish defeat, Rommel returned to Berlin to organize the Führer’s victory parade, taking part himself as a member of Hitler’s entourage. During the Polish campaign, Rommel was asked to intervene on behalf of one of his wife’s relatives, a Polish priest who had been arrested. He has been criticised for not doing enough on the man’s behalf, though he did apply to the Gestapo for information, only to be told that no information on the man existed.

France 1940…

Panzer commander…

Rommel asked Hitler for command of a panzer division, even though he had no previous experience commanding armour. On 6 February 1940, only three months before the invasion, Rommel was given command of the 7.Panzer-Division, for Fall Gelb („Case Yellow”), the invasion of France and the Low Countries. This string-pulling provoked resentment among fellow officers. The Chief of Army Personnel had rejected Rommel’s request on the grounds of his having no experience with armour, instead suggesting he was more suitable for commanding a mountain division lacking a commander. Rommel had, however, emphasized the use of mobile infantry and had come to recognize the great usefulness of armoured forces in Poland. He set about adapting himself and learning the techniques of armoured warfare rapidly and with great enthusiasm. In fact, his division became known as the „Ghost Division” because the pace and extent of their attacks put them so far forward that they were frequently out of communication with the rest of the army, leaving their exact position unknown.

Invasion of France and Belgium…

On 10 May 1940 a part of XV Corps under General Hoth, advanced into Belgium to proceed to the Meuse river near the Walloon municipality of Dinant. At the Meuse, 7th Panzer was held up owing to the bridges having been destroyed and to determined sniper and artillery fire from the Belgian defenders. The Germans lacked smoke grenades, so Rommel, having assumed personal command of the crossing, ordered a few nearby houses to be set on fire to conceal the attack. The German Panzergrenadiers crossed the river in rubber boats, with Rommel leading the second wave.The Division dashed further inland, always spurred on by Rommel and far in front of any friendly forces.

Rommel’s technique of pushing forward boldly, ignoring risks to his flanks and rear and relying on the shock to enemy morale to hinder attacks on his vulnerable flanks, paid large dividends during his rapid march across France. When encountering resistance, Rommel would simply order his tanks forward, all guns blazing, relying on the shock of the sudden assault to force the enemy to surrender. This method offset the disadvantage the German tanks had in terms of armour and low-calibre guns, often causing large formations of enemy heavy tanks to simply give up a fight they would otherwise have had a good chance of winning. This approach, although it saved lives on both sides by avoiding prolonged engagements, did cause mishaps. On one occasion his tanks, following this tactic, closed with a convoy of French trucks and fired into them only to realise that the trucks were acting as ambulances ferrying wounded from the front.

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