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Author Topic: DEATH OF THE FOX: ROMMEL COMMITS SUICIDE -14 OCT 1944  (Read 79 times)
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PzLdr
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« on: October 14, 2017, 10:34:17 am »

He was arguably, Germany's best known general of World War  II [still is]. A non- Prussian [he was a Wurtemburger], and a non-member of the German General Staff, he was, at the time of his promotion in 1942, the youngest field Marshal in the Wehrmacht. And on 14 OCT 1944, he faced a Hobson's choice of cosmic proportions: public trial and conviction for treason against his Fuehrer arising out of the 20th of July plot, or death by suicide, courtesy of the poison brought to him by two German generals.

Rommel had started the Second World War commanding Hitler' Army Security Battalion in Poland [he had also held that job during the Anschluss and Czech occupations]. But in 1940, Hitler gave Rommel [a career infantryman], command of the 7th Panzer division for the French campaign, and Rommel took to armored warfare like a duck to water [which would surprise nobody who studied his operations as a junior officer in WWI, or who had read his book, "Infanterie Greift An"-"On Infantry Attacks"]. Rommel led the way to the Channel coast, being the first across the Meuse, and the first to break through the French Army. He led the attack in the second phase of the French campaign [operation 'Red'], and capped the campaign with the capture of the 51st highlander Division, and the seizure of Cherbourg [covering over 100 miles in one morning].

Hitler then sent him to Africa, as a backup for the floundering Italians. going beyond the defensive role envisaged for him by the OKH and the OKW, Rommel turned eastern Libya and Western Egypt into a major theater of war for two years with few troops and scant resources.

Like many German officers, Rommel had been quite impressed with Hitler [and vice versa]early on. But that admiration had taken a severe hit at El Alamein, when Hitler ordered Rommel and his men to stand fast and fight to the last bullet in a hopeless situation. It got worse during the Normandy operations post D-Day. Rommel had correctly surmised that the standard German battle drill of holding armor in reserve and counterattacking would work in Normandy, since he, alone among the senior German Generals in France had faced the overwhelming might of Allied air power. but he was at odds with his commander, Field Marshal von Rundstedt [who had last commanded troops in the field in Russia in 1941, when the Germans had absolute air supremacy]. So Htler made a compromise decision that backed neither general fully, and wound up leaving the bulk of the Panzers behind the beachhead area except 21st Pz., near Caen]. It was a recipe for failure, and fail it did.

Historians can't be sure of when Rommel decisively turned against Hitler, but they are sure of several things. First Rommel [along with both Rundstedt and the latter's successor, von Kluge], surmised early on that the battle for Normandy was over in all but name, and that Germany could no longer win the war. Second, Rommel began to press Hitler to seek and end to the war, and confronted him in writing, and in person on that matter several times, pointedly telling Hitler that the war in the West was reaching a critical point, and to draw his own conclusions. Third, Rommel was in contact with elements of the resistance.

What is unknown is how involved with the plot Rommel was. It appears he was not told Hitler was to be assassinated [he wanted Hitler arrested and tried, although a British captive, Gen Eberbach said Rommel told him Hitler had to be killed]. On 17 JUL 1944, the day he was seriously wounded by a British airplane, Rommel had been visiting his Waffen SS commanders, including Sepp Dietrich, commander of 1st SS Panzer Corps, and Willi Bittrich, commander of the 2d SS Panzer Corps, as well as some of their subordinates. and it appears thathe put the same question to them all. If contraryorders came from him and from Hitler, who would they obey. Dietrich led the rest in affirming that they would obey Rommel. At the very least, it appears Rommel was toying with opening the Western Front to the Allies and surrendering OB West to them.

But the air attack changed all that. Rommel was unconscious in a military hospital when Stauffenburg set off the bomb. He was convalescing when many of the conspirators were arrested, tortured, tried and killed. But at least two mentioned his name. And enemies he had made in the German Army cast him out of the officer corps, so he could be tried by Freisler's People's Court. But that created a problem. What effect on the German people would result when Germany's most famous and popular general was seen to have conspired against Hitler?

So on 14 October, 1944, a limousine driven by an SS NCO, and carrying two army Generals, Burgdorf and Maisel, drove up to Rommel's home at Herrlingen, through a cordon of SS troops surrounding the place, ostensibly to offer Rommel a new command, but in reality to offer him an illusory choice. He could accept a public trial [and guilty verdict and death sentence, assuming he wasn't killed on the way to Berlin], or he could commit suicide. If he chose the former, Rommel's wife, Lucie, and his son, Manfred, would be sent to a camp under the doctrine of Sippinhaft [punishing the family of a traitor]. If he chose suicide, his family would be spared, no action would be taken against them, they would be provided for, and Rommel would receive a state funeral, with his death attributed to the wounds he had received in the air attack.

Rommel chose door number two, suicide. After informing his family and aide what was happening, Rommel climbed into the car with Burgdorf and Maisel. The car halted a short distance from the house, Burgdorf gave Rommel a cyanide capsule, and he, Maisel and the driver exited the car, the two generals walking a short distance away. Within twenty minutes after leaving his house, Erwin Rommel, Generallfeldmarschall, holder of the Knight's Cross with Swords and Oak Leaves, holder of the Pour le Merite, holder of the Panzer Assault Badge and Wounds Badge was dead. A sad end to a magnificent life.
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2017, 05:30:50 pm »

He was arguably, Germany's best known general of World War  II [still is]. A non- Prussian [he was a Wurtemburger], and a non-member of the German General Staff, he was, at the time of his promotion in 1942, the youngest field Marshal in the Wehrmacht. And on 14 OCT 1944, he faced a Hobson's choice of cosmic proportions: public trial and conviction for treason against his Fuehrer arising out of the 20th of July plot, or death by suicide, courtesy of the poison brought to him by two German generals.

Rommel had started the Second World War commanding Hitler' Army Security Battalion in Poland [he had also held that job during the Anschluss and Czech occupations]. But in 1940, Hitler gave Rommel [a career infantryman], command of the 7th Panzer division for the French campaign, and Rommel took to armored warfare like a duck to water [which would surprise nobody who studied his operations as a junior officer in WWI, or who had read his book, "Infanterie Greift An"-"On Infantry Attacks"]. Rommel led the way to the Channel coast, being the first across the Meuse, and the first to break through the French Army. He led the attack in the second phase of the French campaign [operation 'Red'], and capped the campaign with the capture of the 51st highlander Division, and the seizure of Cherbourg [covering over 100 miles in one morning].

Hitler then sent him to Africa, as a backup for the floundering Italians. going beyond the defensive role envisaged for him by the OKH and the OKW, Rommel turned eastern Libya and Western Egypt into a major theater of war for two years with few troops and scant resources.

Like many German officers, Rommel had been quite impressed with Hitler [and vice versa]early on. But that admiration had taken a severe hit at El Alamein, when Hitler ordered Rommel and his men to stand fast and fight to the last bullet in a hopeless situation. It got worse during the Normandy operations post D-Day. Rommel had correctly surmised that the standard German battle drill of holding armor in reserve and counterattacking would work in Normandy, since he, alone among the senior German Generals in France had faced the overwhelming might of Allied air power. but he was at odds with his commander, Field Marshal von Rundstedt [who had last commanded troops in the field in Russia in 1941, when the Germans had absolute air supremacy]. So Htler made a compromise decision that backed neither general fully, and wound up leaving the bulk of the Panzers behind the beachhead area except 21st Pz., near Caen]. It was a recipe for failure, and fail it did.

Historians can't be sure of when Rommel decisively turned against Hitler, but they are sure of several things. First Rommel [along with both Rundstedt and the latter's successor, von Kluge], surmised early on that the battle for Normandy was over in all but name, and that Germany could no longer win the war. Second, Rommel began to press Hitler to seek and end to the war, and confronted him in writing, and in person on that matter several times, pointedly telling Hitler that the war in the West was reaching a critical point, and to draw his own conclusions. Third, Rommel was in contact with elements of the resistance.

What is unknown is how involved with the plot Rommel was. It appears he was not told Hitler was to be assassinated [he wanted Hitler arrested and tried, although a British captive, Gen Eberbach said Rommel told him Hitler had to be killed]. On 17 JUL 1944, the day he was seriously wounded by a British airplane, Rommel had been visiting his Waffen SS commanders, including Sepp Dietrich, commander of 1st SS Panzer Corps, and Willi Bittrich, commander of the 2d SS Panzer Corps, as well as some of their subordinates. and it appears thathe put the same question to them all. If contraryorders came from him and from Hitler, who would they obey. Dietrich led the rest in affirming that they would obey Rommel. At the very least, it appears Rommel was toying with opening the Western Front to the Allies and surrendering OB West to them.

But the air attack changed all that. Rommel was unconscious in a military hospital when Stauffenburg set off the bomb. He was convalescing when many of the conspirators were arrested, tortured, tried and killed. But at least two mentioned his name. And enemies he had made in the German Army cast him out of the officer corps, so he could be tried by Freisler's People's Court. But that created a problem. What effect on the German people would result when Germany's most famous and popular general was seen to have conspired against Hitler?

So on 14 October, 1944, a limousine driven by an SS NCO, and carrying two army Generals, Burgdorf and Maisel, drove up to Rommel's home at Herrlingen, through a cordon of SS troops surrounding the place, ostensibly to offer Rommel a new command, but in reality to offer him an illusory choice. He could accept a public trial [and guilty verdict and death sentence, assuming he wasn't killed on the way to Berlin], or he could commit suicide. If he chose the former, Rommel's wife, Lucie, and his son, Manfred, would be sent to a camp under the doctrine of Sippinhaft [punishing the family of a traitor]. If he chose suicide, his family would be spared, no action would be taken against them, they would be provided for, and Rommel would receive a state funeral, with his death attributed to the wounds he had received in the air attack.

Rommel chose door number two, suicide. After informing his family and aide what was happening, Rommel climbed into the car with Burgdorf and Maisel. The car halted a short distance from the house, Burgdorf gave Rommel a cyanide capsule, and he, Maisel and the driver exited the car, the two generals walking a short distance away. Within twenty minutes after leaving his house, Erwin Rommel, Generallfeldmarschall, holder of the Knight's Cross with Swords and Oak Leaves, holder of the Pour le Merite, holder of the Panzer Assault Badge and Wounds Badge was dead. A sad end to a magnificent life.

What happened to his family?
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PzLdr
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2017, 06:53:30 pm »

What happened to his family?

His wife and son were left alone, and wound up being looked out for by the Allies. His wife Lucy [Her maiden name was Lucia Molin - Italian descent] lived to a fairly old age, and died of natural causes. Their son, Manfred went into politics and became Mayor of Stuttgart. He never married and died childless.

but as Paul Harvey might say, ..."and now the rest of the story".

Long before he met Luci, 2d Lt. Rommel had an affair with a flower girl. But in the then German Army he couldn't marry her because he had insufficient funds to support her and a family, and he required his commanding officer's permission to marry.

They had a daughter out of wedlock, and Rommel supported her [and acknowledged her] all his life. Lucy knew about her, and she spent a great deal of time with the family. It appears the scarf one sees in pictures of Rommel during the war was knitted by her for him. She went on , in adulthood to marry, and she had a son. So Rommel has a grandson [I don't know if he has any great-grandchildren].
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apples
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2017, 06:50:46 pm »

His wife and son were left alone, and wound up being looked out for by the Allies. His wife Lucy [Her maiden name was Lucia Molin - Italian descent] lived to a fairly old age, and died of natural causes. Their son, Manfred went into politics and became Mayor of Stuttgart. He never married and died childless.

but as Paul Harvey might say, ..."and now the rest of the story".

Long before he met Luci, 2d Lt. Rommel had an affair with a flower girl. But in the then German Army he couldn't marry her because he had insufficient funds to support her and a family, and he required his commanding officer's permission to marry.

They had a daughter out of wedlock, and Rommel supported her [and acknowledged her] all his life. Lucy knew about her, and she spent a great deal of time with the family. It appears the scarf one sees in pictures of Rommel during the war was knitted by her for him. She went on , in adulthood to marry, and she had a son. So Rommel has a grandson [I don't know if he has any great-grandchildren].

Thank you!  Love your history!!!!!
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