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Erwin Rommel

Updated on March 25, 2012


Early Life

Rommel was born on the 15th of November 1891 Heidenheim, Germany. Rommel has remarked that his childhood was normal and happy, growing up in a loving family, his father was a secondary school teacher.

While Rommel showed aptitude as an engineer, he eventually went to Cadet School to become an officer in the armed forces. He served in World War I, in France, Romania, and against the Italians. However, while he was decorated and well respected for his efforts there, he gained his fame from the second World War.

Between the War

Rommel served as the primary proponent and developer of infantry and armor doctrine that would dominate the German Army and lead it to spectacular victories in World War II. He perfected infantry operations on the platoon and company level, and created programs that would further integrate the infantry with the armor.

This incredible expansion in doctrine made the blitzkrieg so much more powerful. It also allowed German commanders to command and lead successful advances-from-stalemate and counterattacks. This was possible, even after losses and material lack in German equipment.

At one point, between the wars, it is noted that Rommel tried to forge stronger ties to make the Hitler Youth into an Auxiliary group. In the author's personal opinion, for the purpose of a nation about to go to war, this was more than acceptable, this may have meant for quicker victories and a firmer grasp of what was to come. In essence, these Junior reserves would have been used to fill critical gaps in the German Supply and organizational line, and may have (albeit rarely) been exposed to enemy confrontation. While the most would have been done to prevent this, these junior brigades should be prepared to deal with it.

This would have likely meant quicker replacements for German losses, and soldiers who were already veterans of the many aspects of a campaign/deployment. The only real lack they would have had, would have been the combat experience. However, being fully used to marching, packing, unpacking, and other labor required, they would have been valuable assets once they came of age. In addition, they would have likely relieved a heavy manpower burden on German Service Support units, and allowed more qualified personnel to the front line.

However, as was Hitler's way, he let the commander of the Hitler Youth express personal pride and conflict with Rommel. This prevented Rommel from gaining any headway in the organization, other than to establish a rifle school for basic skills training of the Hitler Youth. By the end of the War, the Hitler Youth was absorbed into the Volksturm militia units, so it almost ended in the same manner.

Desert Fox

Rommel in the War

Rommel served initially as a division commander in Poland, leading an Alpine Infantry division during the invasion. During the invasion of France, he led the 7th Armor Division. During the Battle in France, the 7th Armor Division earned the nickname the "Ghost Division" often because of the speed, surprise, and ferocity of their attacks.

Following the fall of France, most German divisions were moved eastward, for Operation Barbarossa. However, Rommel was instead moved to North Africa, where he was in charge of the AfrikaKorps. In Africa, Rommel earned the nick-name the "Desert Fox", for his daring advances towards British Egypt at Al Alamien, and fighting the Americans in Libya. However, as the offensive in North Africa ground to a halt, Rommel returned to Germany.

Rommel's End

Rommel, upon his return, participated in an assassination attempt against Adolph Hitler, which ultimately failed. Hitler had the conspirators, including Rommel, detained, arrested, and executed. However, in this, Rommel had a special role to play.

Hitler was afraid that an execution of such a beloved war hero, would disenchant the German people and begin a resistance to the war. As a result, Hitler forced Rommel to take his own life, or face the fear that his family would be harmed. Thus, on the October 14th, 1944, Rommel committed suicide.


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