Erwin Rommel
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Biography for
Erwin Rommel (Character)
from The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951)

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Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) was a career military officer who fought in both World War I and World War II. He first came to fame in May of 1940, when he led his armored division at the Battle of Sedan, where his troops broke through the French defenses and helped lead to the rout of the Allied troops in France. After France fell, Rommel was sent to Libya to assist the Italians when their ill-fated atack on the British in Egypt almost led to disaster. He formed the Afrika Korps ("Africa Corps") and led the Axis troops to victory over the British in crucial battles like Tobruk. His dash and daring led to him being given the nickname "The Desert Fox" and his promotion to Field Marshall. Supply problems and personal illness led to defeat at El Alamein in 1942; afterwards, Rommel led the longest retreat in history, falling back all the way from Egypt through Libya and to Tunisia. In February of 1943, he broke through American defenses at Kasserine Pass, but was eventually defeated by combined American and British forces; Rommel was recalled to Germany by Hitler before the Afrika Korps surrendered in 1943. After North Africa, Rommel was sent to France in late 1943 to help prepare the French coastline from the expected Allied invasion. He was under the command of Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt; while the two disagreed on tactics (Rommel believed that the invading forces must be fought on the beaches while von Rundstedt believed that the Germans could fall back and entrap the attackers in the interior), both were united in their determination to defeat the Allies and a growing distaste for Adolph Hitler. Rommel was in Germany on June 6, 1944 (it was his wife's birthday) when word of the Normandy landings came. Rommel rushed back to France, but neither he nor von Rundstedt were unable to persuade Hitler to release the fifteen panzer divisons of the German Fifteenth Army from Calais to counterattack the Allies. (Hitler was convinced that the Normandy attack was a diversion and that the real assault would come at Pais de Calais.) Rommel was wounded when his staff car came under attack by Allied aircraft in July of 1994; days, later, a group of German officers and others almost assassinated Htiler by bomb at the Eastern Front headquarters on July 20, 1944. Hitler suspected Rommel of involvement in the plot and on October 14, 1944, sent two officers with an ultimatum - commit suicide and have your honor intact or stand trial and possibly have your family suffer. Rommel took the vial of poison and died that day; he was buried with full military honors.

There is still some controversy whether Rommel was an active participant in the plot. Movies like The Desert Fox indicate he was a direct participant while others have his involvement more limited. Nevertheless, Rommel is remembered both for his honor and integrity as well as his drive and daring on the battlefield.

Page last updated by Col_Hessler, 7 years ago
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