Romeel: The Desert Fox Essay, Research Paper
Rommel: the Desert Fox
Erwin Rommel Jr. was born on November 15, 1891. As a child, he was even tempered and was unremarkable academically and athletically. During adolescence, he became very adept at mathematics (His father and grandfather were both distinguished mathematicians.) Jr. always preferred practical books to works of imagination. When the airplane was first built, Rommel’s imagination went wild and he spent many days studying the airplane. After high school, Rommel Jr. was thinking of applying to the Zeppelin works at Friederichshafen, but his father, the ex-artillery officer, advised him to go to the army instead. In July 1910, Rommel became a cadet with the 124th Wurttemberg Infantry Regiment in the 26th Infantry Division of the German Imperial Infantry. He was going to go in March, but a hernia operation set him back four months.
He served as cadet in the Army until March 1911. Then he attended the prestigious military academy Konigliche Kriegsschule in Danzig. The course lasted eight months, until the end of November 1911. During that course he rose to Lieutenant: Corporal in October and Sergeant at the end of the year. That is not all he acquired during his stay. He also met the love of his life, Lucy Mollin, whom he would write to everyday during both World Wars. His final reports showed him competent in all subjects, but not incredibly smart. In Jan. 1912, the dapper young Lieutenant Erwin Rommel rejoined the 124th. In summer 1914, he served as artillery attachment in drilling practices near Ulm. On July 28, 1914, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand occurred. One month later, Rommel would be tested, and WWI was underway.
Rommel received many awards and honors during his service in WWI, including the Iron Cross, the most distinguished German Military award. Rommel always had to be at the front, because he knew that, in order to successfully deploy his troops; he must view the terrain and the enemy.
One story of Rommel s skill and Daring as a commander in WWI is shown in this excerpt from the book:
Then, with his major objective, Mount Matajur, still ahead, Rommel’s commanding officer, Major Sprosser, ordered Rommel to withdraw, thinking that his major objective had already been taking. This came to Rommel’s men before it came to Rommel, and Rommel was left with 100 men and 6 machine guns. He decided that, because of Major Sprosser’s ignorance of the correct orders, he would disobey these orders and go to the summit. He ordered the 6 machine guns to fire at the Italian positions at the base of the mountain, and shortly thereafter, Rommel approached with a white handkerchief. 1200 men immediately dropped their weapons and Rommel continued to the summit. At the summit position, Rommel again fired his machine guns, and once again approached with a white handkerchief. The remaining 120 Italians surrendered and at 11:40 a.m., October 26, Rommel signaled the Commanders that he had captured Mount Matajur.
After the close of WWI, Rommel remained in the military, although the new army of post war Germany was restricted to 100,000 men and only 4,000 officers. In 1937, he published his book Infanterie greift an-”Infantry Attacks.” He became a major in April 1932 at the age of 40, 23 years after commission.
Rommel served in Poland during the breakout of WWII, after which he received command of the 7th Armored Division. When Rommel came to the Maginot Line, he came up with an idea. Instead of blowing up or dealing with every fortification in his way, he ordered his tanks to race at full speed past the fortifications while firing at anything that looked hostile. The mechanized rifle companies were to do the same. The French were surprised to say the least. Most of them simply surrendered to the rear guards that came up.
On February 6, 1941, Rommel was summoned to Berlin. There Commander-in-Chief of the Army Field Marshal von Brauchitsch alerted him of the Italians hopeless situation. They had lost an entire army of ten divisions in North Africa, were checked completely in Greece, on the run in Eritrea, Somaliland, Abyssinia, Libya, and all of North Africa. Hitler selected Rommel to command the campaign there and sent 2 German divisions to aid the Italians. Although he didn t officially take command of the entire African theatre until the following year because of Italian politics, he unofficially took charge on his own.
It is here that Rommel received both respect of the Allies and his most famous nickname: The Desert Fox . He is credited as being the first general to connect Desert Warfare with that of ocean warfare. He served in North Africa for most of his career in WWII and had numerous successes against the British. Because of his belief in staying on the front , he was nearly captured over 4 times throughout his North African Career. One story tells of a routine check-up on an objective to capture a small town. He found the unit commander huddled inside of his tank during an artillery barrage. Rommel climbed on top of the tank and began to yell at the commander through the hatch. A sudden nearby explosion caused the commander to hurriedly close the hatch. Assuming Rommel was dead, he was surprised when 10 minutes later Rommel pounded on the Hatch and handed him a detailed map of the defenses that he had drawn out himself.
The Africa campaign was a lost cause from the beginning, however. Because of supply troubles, and American entrance into the war, Rommel soon realized the hopelessness of both the war in Africa and in Europe. He was one of the few German generals who dared to express his feelings on this to Hitler himself. Whereas other generals had been executed for such letters, Rommel was respected enough both by Hitler and by the German People that no such order was ever given.
Near the end of his life (and of the war), Rommel became involved with other high-ranking Germans concerning what to do. These men laid out a plot on their own to assassinate Hitler and instate Rommel as president of the Reich. This because Rommel was the only German as respected as Hitler at the time. The Bomb was placed under a conference table below Hitler s Seat. The bomb went off perfectly as planned and miraculously killed everyone except Hitler. After interrogating those connected with the plot, a link was traced back to Rommel. He was given a choice by the SS either to take a vile of poison, or go before the He knew that if he decided to go before the court, he and his family would never reach Berlin alive. Rommel got into the car with the SS, and 25 minutes later, his son picked up the telephone. It was the SS, saying that his father had had a Hemorrhage in the car. He was Dead.
My Favorite part of the book was near the end, where Rommel shows his most honorable, courageous side. It was very interesting reading about the tactics and war stories of Rommel, but even more so to the extent of his character. I would suggest to anyone interested in learning of a truly great man to read at least one biography about him in his or her lifetime.