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(14)…

Rommel’s death…

Unfortunately for Rommel, the „Court of Military Honour,” a drumhead court-martial that was to decide whether or not to hand him over toRoland Freisler’s People’s Court included two men with whom Rommel had crossed swords before, Heinz Guderian and Gerd von Rundstedt. The Court decided that Rommel should be expelled from the Army in disgrace and brought before the People’s Court, a kangaroo court that always decided in favour of the prosecution.

Rommel was approached at his home by Wilhelm Burgdorf and Ernst Maisel, two generals from Hitler’s headquarters, on 14 October 1944. Burgdorf offered him a choice from Field Marshal Keitel: he could face the People’s Court or choose to commit suicide quietly. In the former case, his staff would have been arrested and his family would suffer even before the all-but-certain conviction. In the latter case, the government would assure his family full pension payments and a state funeral claiming he had died a hero. Burgdorf had brought a capsule of cyanide for the occasion. After a few minutes’ thought alone, Rommel announced that he chose to end his own life and explained his decision to his wife and son. Carrying his field marshal’s baton, Rommel went to Burgdorf’s Opel, driven by SS Master Sergeant Heinrich Doose, and was driven out of the village. Doose walked away from the car leaving Rommel with Maisel. Five minutes later Burgdorf gestured to the two men to return to the car, and Doose noticed that Rommel was slumped over. Doose, while sobbing, replaced Rommel’s fallen cap on his head. Ten minutes later the group phoned Rommel’s wife to inform her that Rommel was dead.

After the war, an edited version of his diary was published as The Rommel Papers. He is the only member of the Third Reich establishment to have a museum dedicated to him. His grave can be found in Herrlingen, a short distance west of Ulm.

The official story of Rommel’s death, as initially reported to the general public, stated that Rommel had either suffered a heart attack or succumbed to his injuries from the earlier strafing of his staff car. To further strengthen the story, Hitler ordered an official day of mourning in commemoration and Rommel was buried with full military honours. Hitler sent Field Marshal von Rundstedt as his representative at Rommel’s funeral. Rommel had specified that no political paraphernalia were to be displayed on his corpse, but the Nazis made sure he was fully festooned with swastikas. The truth behind Rommel’s death didn’t come out until Keitel testified about it during the Nuremberg Trials.

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