Chicago American, Tuesday, December 5, 1961, p. 13, c. 5:
'Longest Day' Tells Rommel Blunder
An Incredible Blunder by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel contributed greatly to the tipping of the scales against Hitler.
On June 6, 1944, when the Allied invasion thundered ashore in Normandy, a private little birthday party was taking place4 in Germany.
Present were Rommel, the man in charge of Hitler's "Atlantic Wall;" Mrs. Rommel and their young son, Manfred. It was Mrs. Rommel's birthday and her husband, who had not been on leave for months, had driven eight hours from France to be with her.
Rommel had left his headquarters on June 4. The weather was terrible. Forecast indicated it would grow worse. The Field Marshall felt quite safe in making the trip home. For on thing, he believed that Gen. Eisenhower had already missed his chance to invade. Furthermore, he was convinced that if the enemy should attack it would do so only under perfect weather conditions.
There is no question the Rommel's absence from the front at the crucial moment when the invasion struck set back the German defense effort and was thus responsible, in significant measure, for the Allied triumph of D-Day.
The events of that day were set forth in Cornelius Ryan's best selling book "The Longest Day." Now they are being transferred to the screen by Producer Darryl F. Zanuck.
Fred Hift, associatd with Zanuck in the filming, now in progress in Paris, had luncheon with the Chicago critics yesterday--a purely social luncheon he said, meaning that he was not in town for the specific purpose of plugging the picture. Nevertheless, we persuaded him to talk about it.
Altho "The Longest Day," must be considered a war picture, Hift said only about 25 percent of the action deals with actual warfare.
For the rest, it deals with individual human drama of several persons involved, presenting the German as well as the Allied side.
The Rommel blunder and its consequence seems to me particularly intriguing, and mysterious, too.
The mystery lies in Rommel's hesitancy to rush back to Normandy when he was informed of the invasion. It is known that, despite the overwhelming news, he did not leave his home until many hours later. His aide, Capt. Hellmuth Lang, who accompanied him back to France, says Rommel kept repeating--""What a fool I was, what a fool I was."
Rommel knew that the battle was lost--and he was to realize very soon that, with it, the war.
Within a few weeks, the attempt on Hitler's life took place. Rommel was implicated. Two months, thereafter, Rommel was dead--forced to commit suicide with a poison capsule as two S. S. generals with drawn pistols, watched from a distance.
Werner Hinz, an important German actor, plays Rommel in "The Longest Day." His own son, Michael, plays Rommel's son, Manfred.
The 'name" stars in the cast comprise a long list that includes William Holden, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, and three special pets of the teenagers--Tommy Sands, Paul Anka and Fabian.