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Old January 18th, 2013, 03:03 AM   #101

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Sepp Dietrich, former member of Hitler's personal SS bodyguard from day one, and famous leader of the 1st SS Panzer Corps Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler also wrote to Hitler protesting about the mass murder of Jews in the USSR. Few were more loyal to Nazism and Hitler than Dietrich.

A large percentage of those supposed 150,000 Jews who served in the army were either non practising Jews or so called "mischlinges" (mixed blood).

Upon his election, Hitler had made a promise to President Hindenberg that he would no persecute Jewish members of the armed forces who had served during WW1. He kept this promise until Hindenberg's death and then made it illegal for Jews or "Mischlinges" to serve in the German Army. However, the SS in particular used many different nationalities, including a small number of British POWs and even a handful of Americans, as well as Indians such as the nationalists of Subhas Chandra Bose.

The Wehrmacht itself also used auxiliaries from many nations. They were not considered "full" members of the army.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 03:12 AM   #102

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
A large percentage of those supposed 150,000 Jews who served in the army were either non practising Jews or so called "mischlinges" (mixed blood).
Nearly all the Jews in the German army were Jews only according to Nazi classification, they would have not been considered Jewish by the rules of the Jewish faith.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 05:37 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by fuser View Post
Mostly, Goebbels' propaganda.
I would agree with this statement but also point to the considerable attention given to him in the British press and the contributory effect it had on initially creating the "Rommel legend"(TM).

I can easily accept Erwin Rommel as a "notable historical figure", but as a "military great"?

Nope.

An ongoing record of disrespect for the principal fundament of the military system (i.e. its Chain-of Command) is not indicative of a "military great". The fact that he was later given a Corps command, accorded a key to the "executive washroom" in the Fuhrer's office (speaking euphemistically) and was able to bypass his direct superiors as a result of this, led to much consternation within OKH.

Rommel's "legend" morphed into that of another of the "Good Nazi's" (a la Speer), blown out of all proportion during the Cold War period (to suit the PR needs of the West) when it came time to rearm the FRG in the mid-50's.

My two cents...Rommel fans may not share this viewpoint.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 06:57 AM   #104
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As a commander Rommel wrote books on tactical armor manuvers which may have partically lead to his down fall. One of Rommel's readers was US General George S. Patton.

The most widely accepted reason for Rommel's downfall in North Africa is that Allied Forces cut off German fuel supplies at Suez. Lacking fuel Rommel's forces pershed the desert conditions.

In addition to Patton's Third Army, the alliance with Britisn General Bernard "Monty" Montgomery allowed Rommel to be pushed from both the east and the west

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Last edited by Dave W.; January 18th, 2013 at 07:07 AM.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 07:09 AM   #105

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The biggest reason for failure of German Army in Africa was Rommel who was explicitly ordered to take up defensive position and prevent imminent Italian collapse but the incompetent General went on offensive and spelled the doom resulting in hundred of thousands of troops being perished needlessly and then this incompetent fool had the audacity to blame OKW for not supporting him enough.

And I will trust OKW's judgement of situation any day over Rommel's.
Then, the man was utter failure in France too but indeed he was successful as divisional commander and as such I have always felt he should have never been promoted over the rank of major general.

But why is so popular is different story and has already been covered by Iron1.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 09:04 AM   #106

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OKW's judgement was essentially Hitler's, particularly later in the war. Whereas Stalin started out not trusting his generals and wanting to micro- manage the war, Hitler initially had faith in his.

As time went by, Stalin learned to trust his generals and leave it to them, but Hitler increasingly tried to manage the army himself, with often disastrous consequences. He had the habit of declaring places "fortresses" and tried to defend everything: a complaint heard a lot by even Waffen SS commanders in Normandy following D-Day. Even Dietrich, misquoting Frederick the Great, stated that "they want to defend everything, but with what?". "PanzerMeyer" himself remarked that his regiment must regain freedom of movement, rather than statically defending and making themselves a nice target not just for the Allied tanks and infantry, but also bombers, fighter bombers and even Naval fire. This was not how any German unit liked to operate.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 09:14 AM   #107

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I never trust such generalization where Hitler or Stalin or for the matter any one individual is made out to be the sole decision maker in any sense, this was never the case but excuses to hide one's own failures.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 10:00 AM   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron1 View Post
Rommel's "legend" morphed into that of another of the "Good Nazi's" (a la Speer), blown out of all proportion during the Cold War period (to suit the PR needs of the West) when it came time to rearm the FRG in the mid-50's.

My two cents...Rommel fans may not share this viewpoint.
The Rommel "legend" started in Africa as the British generals would be way behind the lines often hundreds of miles so giving orders and Rommel would be on the front not just leading the charge, but meeting with captured Allied troops and on at least two recorded occasions when he felt like it he would see a unit of British 8th Army troops and would decide with only his driver and in the second recorded case one or two others with armed Allied soldiers just to chat and exchange stuff.

Quote:
In the summer of 1941, two groups of German and British soldiers met deep in the Libyan desert. Instead of shooting at each other, the enemies chatted and exchanged cigarettes before going their separate ways. What made the encounter all the more remarkable was that Erwin Rommel, the German commander in North Africa, was among them.

Mr Schneider, now 86, said: "The common soldiers did not act out of hate. When we met the English soldiers in the desert that time, we were far, far from anywhere. There was no reason to shoot. We swapped cigarettes and I talked with the English officers.

The extent to which the ferocity of a war fought by young men has been replaced by comradeship among former enemies was underlined this weekend when Mr Schneider met five former Desert Rats, including an ambulance driver who accidentally drove into a German tank position while it was being inspected by Rommel and was promptly sent back to his lines by the field marshal with Mr Schneider at his side.

"We are now friends, very good friends," he said. "I was once a German soldier and they were English soldiers but now we find it difficult to understand why we had to fight against each other. Rommel was always first a soldier. We did not forget that we were fighting fellow human beings." Mr Schneider said: "I was one of Rommel's drivers. I was chosen because I knew English and could operate their equipment.

Mr Schneider said: "When the propaganda photographs were taken of our unit, they would drape Swastika flags over the vehicles. When the cameramen went away, Rommel would order the Swastikas to be taken away. He didn't like Nazi insignia and took it off. He said, 'I am a German soldier'."

Rudolf Schneider: 'I was Rommel's driver' - News - People - The Independent
He was looked upto even more when word got back to the Allied troops that he burned Hitler's orders to execute Jewish POWs as well as their Commandos.

Rommel was one of the 12 recipients of Hitler's infamous, illegal Commando Order issued on 18th October 1942. This order to senior commanders ordered the immediate execution of all Allied Commando troops irrespective of circumstances of combat or capture. On receipt of the order Rommel called his Staff Officers together and invited them to each individually read the order. He then took it and instructed them that under no circumstances was this order ever to be put into effect by men under his command, he then burnt the order in front of them commenting as he did so - "And thus, in such a fashion is infamy dealt with".

At the same time he would allow the Anglo-American press great access to him and because the ordinary Allied troops looked up to him and he was so nice to the press lets just say they spread the word around the world that this was an honorable and chivalrous general willing to stand up to Hitler's ulgy orders and fight a clean war without hate as he called it.

Churchill and Rommel both did favors for each other during the war. Churchill called him a great and chivalrous general and Rommel who his son said by 1942 came to like Churchill much more then his own leadership helped Churchill hide some of his more massive military screw ups. Like the mission to kill or capture Rommel was done by the son of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Keyes and it was a terribly planned raid that as a recient documentary showed ended with friendly fire killing the Admiral's son. Rommel knew how big a screw up it was, but instead called it a brilliant operation to the press and held a full military funeral for these brave warriors in his words. He was thus giving political cover to Churchill for a massive screw up that cost the life of the son of one of Churchill's close friends and one of the most important person in England at the time.

The name Desert Fox was actually not something German soldiers came up for him. He was mainly known as Daredevil by his men because he would always be at the front and would do things other generals would consider insane like meet with the enemy during the war and not in a POW camp. However, he did called Allied soldiers Desert Rats for the tunnels they would make under the desert and the Allies thus came up the name the Desert Fox for him.

Thus, Rommel captivating the Anglo-American world isn't a post war creation. In fact if you listened to Hollywood in 1943 the defeat of Rommel in Egypt was caused by a French woman who tried to seduce him in Egypt to get her brother out of a POW camp.

Click the image to open in full size.

Even during the worst and most hateful and brutal war Europe has seen since the 30 years war when he died tribute was paid for him from Churchill and members of British parliament to many top American and British commanders fighting in Europe. I would say the best tribute probably came from Monty.

Click the image to open in full size.

This was before they knew he had been suicided by his own government. British intelligence did their own investigation of what Rommel was up to in France and from wiretapping German generals who were POWs and other methods found out that Rommel was building support in France for killing Hitler and overthrowing the Nazi Party.

Click the image to open in full size.

They also found out his plan once Hitler was dead was to sit down with Monty and Ike and hammer out a deal to surrender the German Armies in the West so that the war ended in mid 1944 thus ending the war early, preventing the worst months of the Final Solution and allowing the Western Allies to occupy all of central Europe including at least half of Poland instead of Stalin.

Click the image to open in full size.

Once the Cold War started the Western Allies actually did a hell of alot to downplay the notion that Rommel wanted Hitler killed and was going to surrender his forces in the West after that because lets just say there was a very large segment of a whole generation of Germans (that the Allies believed might soon be fighting with them against the Red Army) considered the attempt to kill Hitler the worst kind of treason so they settled on what they viewed as a happy medium that he wanted Hitler put on trial not killed (which was his view at one point, but the Allies knew it evolved to wanting him killed). The notion he was planning a mass surrender in the West was also striken from the history during the early Cold War. They did this because they wanted Rommel to be a non-divisive apolitical military symbol in Germany to support German rearmament.

That was helpful to Rommel's image in Germany during Cold War and he already had a great image in the West. It actually hurts him today given Hitler has gone from being viewed as a vile and more murderous German version of Napoleon during the early to mid Cold War to being viewed as the true human personification of evil today. Also during the early to mid Cold War people knew that Hitler was at one time a well respected leader on the international stage and a charming sociopath who suckered alot of people including the British into giving him alot of what he wanted. People today think Downfall Hitler screaming and openly talking about mass murder and genocide was how he was from 1934 to the end... it was a good depiction of him towards the end, but not in the 30s and early 40s.

Rommel just going by how he acted in WW2 is not the kind of general one would want in a democracy. A general who openly disobeys orders constantly, who is openly contemptuous of his superiors, who decides he knows better then they do and because the Commander in Chief doesn't want to surrender in 1944 and he does he openly helps to organize support for killing the Commander in Chief and then meeting with the enemy to organize a surrender.

However, he is the kind of general people would want if you are in a Totalitarian state and you have a dictator who gets his country into an unwinnable war against three of the five major world powers, starts committing genocide, and decides in Rommel's words to burn the bridges of the German people with the rest of the world behind them.

As a rule a general deciding he knows better then his government and that his government needs to be tossed out in a military coup is a bad thing. But, Nazi Germany shows there are exceptions to this rule. We can only guess what kind of general Rommel would have been in had Germany been a democracy. My guess is he would still be somewhat insubordinate, but in a way more like Patton was without the soldier slapping.

Last edited by jmc247; January 18th, 2013 at 10:32 AM.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 10:13 AM   #109

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The "democracies" of Great Britain and the USA had more than their share of bad generals who couldn't think for themselves. Many German generals who were highly successful often disobeyed orders or acted on their own initiative- the latter is something most Allied generals couldn't do.
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Old January 18th, 2013, 01:30 PM   #110

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W. View Post
As a commander Rommel wrote books on tactical armor manuvers which may have partically lead to his down fall. One of Rommel's readers was US General George S. Patton. Dave W.
Rommel's book, Infanterie Greift An, was on infantry tactics not armour.

Quote:
In addition to Patton's Third Army, the alliance with Britisn General Bernard "Monty" Montgomery allowed Rommel to be pushed from both the east and the west
Patton was in command of the US Army's II Corps in the North African Campaign, not Third Army, and the majority of the forces pushing from the west were General Anderson's British First Army.

Last edited by redcoat; January 18th, 2013 at 01:48 PM.
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