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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was born on November 15, 1891

In a man to man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine.

~ Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (wiki) (Infanterie greift an ("Infantry Attacks," 1937))

Courage which goes against military expediency is stupidity, or, if it is insisted upon by a commander, irresponsibility.

~ Rommel (letter, 9 November 1942)

Self-restraint, even chivalry... distinguished the combatants on both sides throughout the North Africa campaign... The leading exemplar of this code was Rommel himself. When orders from Hitler mandated the execution of captured British commandos, Rommel tossed the document in the trash. He insisted that the Allied prisoners receive the same rations he was given. He even wrote a book about the conflict called Krieg ohne Hass ("War Without Hate"). Memoirs of the North Africa campaign attest that, fierce and brutal as much of the fighting was, relations between individual enemies retained a quality of forbearance that seems, today, almost impossible to imagine.

~ Steven Pressfield, (Killing Rommel, 2009)

He was a splendid military gambler, dominating the problems of supply and scornful of opposition ... His ardor and daring inflicted grievous disasters upon us, but he deserves the salute which I made him - and not without some reproaches from the public - in the House of Commons in January 1942, when I said of him, "We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general." 

He also deserves our respect because, although a loyal German soldier, he came to hate Hitler and all his works, and took part in the conspiracy to rescue Germany by displacing the maniac and tyrant. For this, he paid the forfeit of his life. In the somber wars of modern democracy, chivalry finds no place ... Still, I do not regret or retract the tribute I paid to Rommel, unfashionable though it was judged.

~ Winston Churchill (1874-1965) (The Second World War, Vol. 3, The Grand Alliance)

November 15 is the anniversary of the birth of legendary German general Field Marshall Erwin (Johannes Eugen) Rommel (wiki) (1891-1944), who became known as Der Wüstenfuchs ("the Desert Fox") as commander of the Afrika Korps in World War II. Born in Württemberg the son of a schoolmaster, Rommel joined the Imperial German Army in 1910 and served in France, Italy, and Romania during World War I, receiving the highest decorations for bravery. 

Between the wars, he rose steadily in the army hierarchy, becoming well known as a military educator and writer of textbooks during the early Nazi years. At the time World War II began, he was serving as the commander of Hitler's headquarters troops but was assigned command of a panzer division during the invasion of France and established a reputation for aggressive and innovative leadership. 

In early 1941, after Italy's failed attempt to invade Egypt from Libya, Hitler sent him to retrieve the deteriorating situation as head of the Afrika Korps, and in a series of see-saw battles which only ended in March 1943, he alternately threatened Egypt and fought a series of defensive actions while retreating toward Tunisia. 
Related: It's the anniversary of the 20th of July plot, the unsuccessful bomb attempt to kill Hitler in 1944.
In November 1943, Rommel was placed in charge of defending the French coast against the anticipated Allied invasion, and he held that command until after D-day (4 June 1944). Increasingly disillusioned with Nazism, Rommel became peripherally involved with the 20 July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler, and when his connection was discovered, he was forced to commit suicide in October 1944, although for political reasons his death was attributed to war wounds and he was given a hero's funeral. The real cause of his death did not emerge until after Germany's defeat. 

A brief biography:

The text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

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