Monday, April 27, 2009

The “Desert Fox”

Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel — the “Desert Fox” — was perhaps the most famous German Field Marshal of World War II. He was a highly decorated officer in World War I, being awarded the Pour le Mérite for his exploits on the Italian front. In World War II, he further distinguished himself as the commander of the "Ghost Division" during the 1940 invasion of France. However, it was his masterful leadership of the Deutsches Afrikakorps in the North African campaign that established the legend of the Desert Fox. He is thought by many to have been the most skilled commander of desert warfare in the war. He later commanded the German forces opposing the Allied cross-channel invasion at Normandy.

Rommel is considered to be a chivalrous and humane military officer, in contrast with many other figures of Nazi Germany. His famous Afrikakorps was not accused of any war crimes. Indeed, soldiers captured during his Africa campaign were reported to have been largely treated humanely. Furthermore, orders to kill captured Jewish soldiers and civilians out of hand in all theatres of his command were defiantly ignored.

He was suspected of involvement in the failed July 20 Plot of 1944 to kill Adolf Hitler. Because of his great prestige, he was allowed to commit suicide.

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