Rommel, Erwin

Rommel, Erwin

Rommel, Erwin, 1891-1944, German field marshal. He entered the army in 1910 and rose slowly through the ranks. In 1939, Adolf Hitler made him a general. Rommel brilliantly commanded an armored division in the attack (1940) on France. In Feb., 1941, he took the specially trained tank corps, the Afrika Korps, into Libya. For his successes there he was made field marshal and earned the name "the desert fox." In 1942 he pressed almost to Alexandria, Egypt, but was stalled by fierce British resistance and lack of supplies. A British offensive overwhelmed (Oct.-Nov., 1942) the German forces at Alamein (see North Africa, campaigns in). Rommel was recalled to Germany before the Afrika Korps's final defeat. He was a commander in N France when the Allies invaded Normandy in June, 1944. Allied success led Rommel, who had lost his respect for Hitler, to agree to a plot to remove Hitler from office. Wounded in an air raid in July, he had just recovered when he was forced to take poison because of his part in the attempt on Hitler's life in July, 1944.

See his memoirs and correspondence of World War II. (The Rommel Papers, ed. by B. H. Liddell Hart, 1953); biography by D. Young (1950, repr. 1969); studies by R. Lewin (1968, repr. 1972), C. Douglas-Hume (1973), and M. Kitchen (2009).

Erwin Rommel, 1941.

(born Nov. 15, 1891, Heidenheim an der Brentz, Württemberg, Ger.—died Oct. 14, 1944, Herrlingen, near Ulm) German army commander in World War II. A teacher at military academies, he wrote the acclaimed textbook Infantry Attacks (1937). He commanded a panzer division in the invasion of France (1940), then led his Afrika Korps troops in early successes against the Allies in the North Africa Campaign. He became known as the “Desert Fox” for his audacious surprise attacks, and he was promoted to field marshal. In 1942 he was ordered to attack Cairo and the Suez Canal, despite his request to withdraw his exhausted troops. After his defeat in the Battles of El Alamein and retreat into Tunisia, he returned to Germany and in 1944 was given command of the defense of the northwestern French coast. His tactical suggestions were ignored, and after the Allied Normandy Campaign began, he became convinced that the war could not be won. Implicated in the July Plot to kill Adolf Hitler, he was ordered to take poison so that Hitler could avoid a trial of the esteemed “people's marshal.”

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