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Erwin Rommel

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by Istnick, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Istnick

    Istnick Member

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    I believe him to one of the greatest commanders of all time. He seemed to have honor and want to accomplish greater than what told to. He wanted some glory but not over the top. If given more air support, or even 25% of the luftwaffe I think he could have taken Africa and the middle eastern oil fields. But we know that didn't happen that way. He seems to be the German version of Patton to me, but less glory driven. What are your thoughts on Rommel?
     
  2. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Mixed feelings about Rommel.

    On the good side
    - A great and inspiring leader, in the romantic tradition.
    - Huge amount of phisical and moral courage.
    - He could drive his men to "one more effort" like few commanders in history.
    - Risk taker, he often came up on top because his opponents couldn't believe he would attack when so weak and gave up the fight.
    - Very good tactician, he had an istinctive grasp of the tactical situation and what would work, his personal leadership was time and again decisive.
    - Not just "guts" his book infantry attacks is still an interesting read.
    - The events leading to his suicide show integrity though as conspirator he was out of his depth (and it probably conflicted with all he believed in).

    On the bad side
    - Ties to the nazi party, you don't get command of Hitler's body guard if "politically suspect", at the least he was initially blind to the nazis true nature (but then most of his contemporaries in Germany were)..
    - The flip side to his risk taking is that the difference between "getting the most out of" and "attempting too much with too little" is dependendent on your enemy's capabilities. None of his gambles had disastrous results, but many were pretty close things.
    - His preference for "leading from the front" caused a number of command crises when it got him out of touch with his staff, this became more of a problem as he rose in rank.

    And ...
    - IMO his underestimation of logistics is a myth, in North Africa he was at the loosing end of the build up race, his opponent was getting reinforcements at a faster rate than he was, so his only chance was to catch them off balance and keep them there as he he would inevitably loose the attrition battle.
    - Strangely enough his biggest mistake was the one of the few instances he tried to be cautious, had his plan been adopted in Italy the allies would be handed for free ground they took over one year to take.
    - Some of his mith, like the "invention" of the 88 in the anti tank role at Arras, is just that. The 88 was routinely used as heavy AT and bunker buster during the French campaign and there even was an AT unit equipped with self propelled 88s on a half semi armoured track chassis.
    - I'm not going in detail into his relationship with his Italian allies as it's a very complex issue and one I never examined thoroughly, but the "big picture" there, looking at the results, is that he didn't do badly at all.

    Overall a thorougly professional soldier, his main weakness was the "leading from the front" tendency that was inappropriate to a corps or army commander.
     
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  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    No question in my mind he was an outstanding commander at least at the level he was at. However it wasn't air support that prevented him from acomplishing more in Africa it was logistics and there was no way he was going to get enough to "take Africa" much less the ME oil.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Specifically, what oil fields are you referring to?

    Read this:

    http://www.ww2f.com/sacred-cows-dead-horses/34038-mid-east-oil.html
     
  5. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    True enough. At the time of El Alamain, Kesselring wanted to continue the air offensive against Malta to ensure successful deliveries of supplies to Rommel but Rommel wanted air support for his offensive at El Alamain. Rommel got his way and paid the price when it came to his need of supplies. IMO, Rommel was egocentric but not overtly like Patton or Montgomery. Funny how the primadonnas ended up in the same theater of war, minus MacArthur
     
  6. Istnick

    Istnick Member

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    Yeah he was a great commander. I would have figured with more troops, planes and equipment a lot more would have been done. By the looks of that forum page the oil fields would have been limited to none, unless he pushed his forces far enough into Iran/Iraq. Overall fuel is one of the biggest issue Germans had.
     
  7. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    He was a fine commander, at the level he was, and using intel. to advance your position is no flaw. But it is double edged sword when discovered, as you can be mis-lead by planted data.

    These are selected paragraphs from an article in the World War II magazine, titled; The intercepted communications of an American in Cairo provided a secret ear for Field Marshal Erwin Rommel -- the Desert Fox; By Wil Deac. I can't find the mag. right now, and don't think it is available on the net, but at any rate I had scanned it and filed this part away on a zip-disk.

    "During the 1941-1942 tug of war for North Africa, the British benefited from radio-intercept-derived Ultra information. Despite that Allied advantage, however, for six months and 11 days the Germans enjoyed an even speedier, more across-the-board intelligence source. It was what Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the legendary Desert Fox, called die gute Quelle (the good source). It also was known as "the little fellows" or "the little fellers," a play on the name of its unwitting provider, Brevet Colonel Bonner Frank Fellers. Fellers, a 1918 West Point graduate who previously had served in America's embassy in Madrid, Spain, was the U.S. military attaché in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

    General Cesare Amè, head of the Servizio Informazione Militari (SIM, Italy's military intelligence), approved a break-in of the still neutral American embassy in Rome in September 1941. Since Amè had keys to all the embassies in Rome, except for the Russian, it was a simple matter to gain entry at night. The burglary team consisted of two Carabinieri (national paramilitary police) specialists and two Italians employed by the embassy. One of the latter, messenger Loris Gherardi, opened the safe in the military attaché's office.

    Among the items inside were the Black Code (named after the color of its binding) and its super-encipherment tables. The material, used by U.S. military attachés and ambassadors worldwide, was taken to SIM headquarters, photographed and returned. The Italians now could read everything that the U.S. Ambassador telegraphed. Although they were allied with Germany, the Italians only gave their Axis partner sanitized versions of the American messages, not the code.

    While the Nazis appreciated the Italian largess, they did not tell their ally that they had cracked the Black Code in the meantime. By the fall of 1941, the German Chiffrierabteilung (military cipher branch) intercept stations were snatching the dots and dashes of the Black Code from the airwaves. The intercept station specifically assigned to cover Egypt (Britain's North African headquarters) and the United States, among others, was situated in medieval Lauf, just northeast of the Bavarian city of Nuremburg. There, on a 24-hour basis, 150 radiomen tuned receivers linked to six tall towers. The Lauf facility was backed up by a listening post near Berlin. Since the Mediterranean theater was then the war's most active battleground, it was only natural that Lauf concentrated on Cairo. It was just as natural that attention focused on the American military attaché there. His reports were the most thorough.

    Fellers was as dedicated as he was ambitious. Although it soon became apparent that he disliked the British, they needed American support and went out of their way to give Fellers what he wanted. As Fellers said, he knew that "if I was going to be a good observer and write good reports I'd better report what I saw myself." He talked to British military and civilian headquarters officials, read documents and visited the battlefront, where "it wasn't difficult to learn a great deal."

    Fellers composed long, usually pessimistic radiograms describing virtually everything he learned, encoded them and filed them with the Egyptian Telegraph Company for transmission across the Atlantic to Washington. Within an hour of their transmission from Cairo, the colonel's Black Code messages found their way to German cryptanalysts' desks. Another hour or two and they would be broken into readable text, ready to be retransmitted in a German code. Thus, a few hours after Fellers' messages were sent, the data would be in Rommel's hands. Chiffrierabteilung archivist Dr. Herbert Schaedel said that military headquarters "went crazy...to get all the telegrams from Cairo." He pointed out that the most revealing, Fellers' reports, were easily pulled from the hundreds of coded intercepts received daily. They were flagged MILID WASH (Military Intelligence Division, Washington) or AGWAR WASH (Adjutant General, War Department, Washington), and signed FELLERS. Schaedel recalled that the Desert Fox "each day at lunch, knew exactly where the Allied troops were standing the evening before."

    Adolf Hitler, optimistically discussing the expected capture of Alexandria, said, "It is only to be hoped that the American [Fellers] in Cairo continues to inform us so well over the English military planning through his badly enciphered cables."

    Inevitably, the British came to realize that sensitive information was leaking to the enemy. The Afrika Korps was still blitzkrieging the Cyrenaican coastline when security officers approached Fellers to, in his words, "see my security measures for the [Black] code." Fellers, however, apparently allayed any suspicions the British might have had about his being the source of the suspected leaks because they directed their investigation elsewhere. At least five suspicious-looking Axis signals had been picked up by Allied stations beginning on January 25. One actually cited "a source in Egypt."

    Then, on June 26, a German radio station broadcast an evening drama offering "scenes from the British or American information bureau." Nazis listened aghast as the radio play featured an actor portraying the U.S. military attaché in Cairo and described his gathering of information to relay to Washington. Thirty-six hours later, on June 29, Rommel lost his "gute Quelle."

    Whether or not the incredible radio broadcast alone had allowed the Allies to pinpoint the cause of the leak, Colonel Fellers left Cairo in July after a tour of nearly 21 months. Assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington, he was, recalled a colleague, "the most violent Anglophobe I have encountered." Fellers was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the citation recognizing his reports as "models of clarity and accuracy." Given the temporary rank of brigadier general, he next was assigned to the Southwest Pacific theater. After V-J Day, Fellers became military secretary to General Douglas MacArthur, with whom he had been friends since serving under him in the prewar Philippines. Fellers died of a heart attack in Washington, D.C., in 1973 at the age of 77.

    As a sidebar to the North African intelligence war, controversy still exists over whether or not intercepted communications resulted in the death of the officer Winston Churchill selected to head the Eighth Army's forthcoming counteroffensive against Rommel. On August 7, Lt. Gen. William Gott, who had been involved in the earlier Gazala defeat, was flying in a Bristol Bombay aircraft to take up his new command. As it prepared to land at El Alamein, the unescorted transport was ambushed and destroyed by six Messerschmitt Bf-109Fs. Gott's place was taken by General Bernard Montgomery, who, though controversial, was considered a far abler officer.

    (me again) Fellers was probably NOT a spy for the Nazis per se, just a sloppy officer in sending his reports. However, he didn't know it was broken, so he is probably clear of that charge as well. When the British discoved a close "relationship" to his reports, and Enigma messages, they prevailed on the D.C. leadership to have Fellers "promoted" out of the area. An old political/military Roman tactic from ancient times when a person's humiliation is less advantageous than his removal from the area.

    This isn't designed to take anything away from Rommel talents, just to put them into less "propaganda" driven detail, and to point out that Rommel's "foxiness" coresponded directly to Col. Fellers time in Cario. As soon as he was gone, so was Rommel's string of successes.

    And if you goto this older thread, Jan. 2010, posted by (username) Volga Boatman you will find even more information on both Rommel and the untenable position he was in.
     
    Goto:

    http://www.ww2f.com/naval-war-medit...hologized-article-discussion-med-war-sea.html

    And don't forget that the book The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follette (sp?) wasn't total fiction. There really was a Nazi Kondor Mission to Cario, they really were using the book Rebecca as a code key, and breaking the spy ring eventurally led to Rommel's beginning his "losing ways" in north Africa.
     
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  8. Istnick

    Istnick Member

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    Thanks for the good read and good forum link.
     
  9. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Here is some more on Rommel's north Africa time. By way of a little bit on the Cairo "spy" station which is really "stranger than fiction" and might entertain some of you folks. It involves counterfeit money, exotic dancers, double agents, code books and keys, magicians as well as embarrassed British officers. (007 stand back!)

    Hans Eppler's "Operation Kondor", which was not very extensive in spite of what the novel Key to Rebecca might have alluded to. It was not only short-lived, but was the "heads-up" which put Rommel into hull deep sand after his listening outpost (621) under Seebohm had been captured.

    There were two important pieces of information gained from the capture of Seebohm’s 621 company. The first was confirmation that the Germans had broken and were reading the American diplomatic code known as aforementioned "Black Code". The US military attaché in Cairo, one Colonel Fellers (a rabid anglophobe, whom I discussed before) had been faithfully reporting the state of the allied war effort to his superiors in Washington; unaware that the codes he used were broken. Although it had been long suspected before the 10th of July in 1942 that there was a security breach at the embassy, this was absolute confirmation. Fellers was "promoted" out of the Mid-east back to D.C., and later served under MacArthur in the Pacific after V-J day.

    The other piece of information uncovered concerned the existence of a spy ring operating for the Nazis in Egypt and called the Kondor Mission by the Abwehr. This is another story in itself, and centers on the use of the novel Rebecca as a code key. This particular ring was of little use to the Abwehr/Nazi in reality, in spite of the novel by Ken Follet In the destroyed headquarters of Rommel’s radio intercept company on Tel El Eisa, captured I believe by ANZAC troops, among the code papers British Intelligence found a book; a best seller by Daphne DuMaurier; Rebecca, but strangely it was in English.

    On the flyleaf the price was in Escudos, and the name of the bookstore remained inscribed, this was a tie to the "neutral" Portuguese. So the British intelligence service looked in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. British Intelligence paid a visit to the advertised bookstore, and of course the book was available in English. Records showed that twelve copies had been sold; to the German Embassy in Lisbon.

    In Cairo the exotic dancer named Hekmeth Fahmy was an Egyptian nationalist. If she heard anything which would weaken the British, she passed it along to other Egyptian nationalist officers serving under the British in Egypt's armed forces. As the toast of Cairo, Fahmy heard a lot of "good stuff".

    At her club she was introduced to a free-spending gentleman named Eppler. He had a lot of money. His English pounds came from SS counterfeiters. In actuality he was a German spy, trained at Abwehr Intelligence Headquarters in Berlin and who had trekked a thousand miles through the southern desert to reach Cario, and was using the book Rebecca as his code key.

    The belly dancer Fahmy wasn't as much pro-Nazi as simply wanting to weaken the British in Egypt. I am reasonably certain she honestly believed that the Germans would help her do that. She would use her exotic dancing (and other skills) to charm information from the British which would be transmitted to Rommel’s forces through Hans Eppler’s radio to Seebohm’s 621 group. The Agent Eppler moved in to the houseboat next door to Fahmy on the Nile and dressed as a British officer, he would frequent Shepheards, the Turf Club, and other British watering holes in Cairo, listening, and paying for drinks with counterfeit notes (from Operation Bernhard) courtesy of the Third Reich.

    But with the destruction of Rommel’s intercept company the British knew of at least one spy in Cairo and were watching for counterfeit bills. Which led to the downfall of a British Major from Headquarters (un-named to this day) who had been enticed by Fahmy’s "charms" at the Kit Kat Club, and spend many evenings on her houseboat where she "pumped him" for information (pun intended). She and Eppler would extract information from he and other British officers and relay the information to Rommel's 621 group from their neighboring houseboats on the Nile using the book Rebecca, and Eppler's short wave radio. When the British raided the houseboats, Eppler himself escaped, but his radio and copy of Rebecca were captured in late July.

    Here is probably where the stage magician Jasper Maskelyne helped Montgomery and the last battle of El Alamein the most. He prepared an "ancient appearing map" which proported to show that the desert terrain leading up before Alam Halfa as "hard going". Hard going was understood to be packed sand and rock gravel, and consequently excellent for tank travel. In reality the area was completely "soft sand", and when Rommel’s Panzers swept into it to escape the hidden artillery they had failed to discover, also hidden by Maskelyne's men, they were immediately up to their hulls in "mush" and sitting ducks for the pre-sighted artillery as well as bomber attack. But how did Rommel end up with the fake map?

    When British counterintelligence raided Hekmeth Fahmy's houseboat it was because she had been found to be "dating" that Major from British Headquarters. When he (still unnamed to my knowledge), was exposed as a dupe for the Nazis he was shamed, and then persuaded to deliver the doctored map to the Nazis in order to restore his, and his families "honor". Whether or not he was told he was to be a kamikaze is still a question, or if he simply strayed into the mines unintentionally due to poor navigation. But any rate soon thereafter he drove toward the Nazi lines through a British minefield and when his armored car exploded the Nazis recovered his body and the "map".

    Shortly thereafter, on August 30th, Rommel attacked in the south using the 15th and 21st Panzers along with the Italian Ariete Division. When they were ambushed by the hidden artillery, they were directed into the "hard going" of the old map to effect their escape. The opposite occurred, they foundered and were destroyed.

    As I mentioned before, sometimes reliance on "intelligence and espionage" can be a double-edged sword.
     
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  10. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Rommel...political appointee.

    Excellent at the divisional level. Disasterous at the Army Command level. Too many disagreements over best practice. Stubborn, taciturn, had a habit of running to Hitler to get his own way. The glaring example of this is his insistence on tying down Luftwaffe support for his 1942 push. After capturing Tobruk, the Field Marshal's baton went to his head. The Luftwaffe could not prosecute their campaign over Malta and support Rommel at the same time. They were supposed to be away from Malta for three weeks, but Rommel kept them supporting his own operations; these movements were not planned logistically and took no account of the agonised protests from Mussolini, Admiral Weichold, and other naval advisors. He therefore threw away any opportunity of long term success in Africa with yet another 'dash into Egypt'.

    Too, Rommel had a remarkable tendency to listen only to his own council. He blamed the Italian Navy for "not delivering troops and supplies" when records show that the greater majority of both that were embarked for Africa did in fact reach their destination. His attitude toward Italian fuel deliveries was suspect, doing nothing to give the Regia Marina the oil they so desperately needed to conduct operations in a meaningful manner.

    In all, if Rommel had have been a graduate of the Staff College he might have had some idea of just what was possible. But as a political appointee with the ear of The Leader, he was in over his head, and his promotion to Field Marshal an example of the Peter Principle, with Rommel rising to his level of incompetancy.

    It would have been interesting to have him in Russia, where his hard driving ways may have tipped the balance for operations in late 1941. His way of riding roughshod over the opinions of other officers may have been the tonic that Armee Group Center needed, with Rommel's influence with Hitler as the decisive element in strategic arguments like Vinnitsa.

    For all that, he conducted his operations in the best traditions of the German Officer Corps. Chivalrous and fairminded, atrocities in Africa were virtually non-existent, gaining the respect of his lower ranked peers and enemies alike.

    It would have been truly wonderful for him to have survived the war. A Rommel account of his operations would have made excellent, informative, and entertaining reading, probably making him a rich man in the process. A postwar interview face to face would have been a candid affair indeed, with Rommel making no bones about the various decisions made. Arguably the best known general of any kind on either side, even the Soviets had an opinion of Erwin Rommel.

    In the end, he did what any officer with a conscience would have done after being linked to the July 1944 bomb plot, sacrificing himself for the betterment and future of his family. A great humanitarian.

    Rommel was a worthy opponent, an inspirational leader, and a fine human being. Such a pity the regime he served and the cause he fought for was a ghastly nightmare that slid into the absolute depths of hell.
     
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  11. Greg Canellis

    Greg Canellis Member

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    What about The Rommel Papers ed. B. H. Liddell Hart? I think this volume gives amazing insight into Rommel's thoughts and feelings about Hitler, his superiors, the Italians, logistics in North Africa, etc, especially through his private letters to his wife Lucy. As for fuel and supplies reaching North Africa, what was not known to neither Rommel at the time, nor to Liddell Hart at the time of publication (1953) was that ULTRA intercepts were the cause for so much lost Axis shipping enroute to North Africa. I cannot see how trying to persuade Hitler to release his Panzers closer to the coast to be able to be more quickly deployed to throw the Allied D-Day forces back into the Channel, can be viewed as "running to Hitler to get his own way." You have a point that kicking Rommel upstairs to Army Group level of command was too far removing him from tactical operations. I think it would have been interesting to have Rommel at Armee-Korps command either in front of the British and Commonwealth forces at Caen, or in front of the Americans at St. Lo.

    Greg C.
     
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  12. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Look at Rommels performance as commander of Armee Group B.

    Von Runestedt disagreed entirely with Rommels assessment of the situation. Rommel's subsequent protests to Hitler caused a rift in command structure, that subsequently lead to a typical Hitler compromise. He let Rommel have his way, but reserved certain divisions only for his personal approval to be released. Typical of Hitler when dealing with Rommel, for he ALWAYS let the 'Desert Fox" have his way.

    Without Rommel in Normandy, we may have seen the German army with a unified command structure. Placing tanks closer to the coast would only have set them in place, making it difficult to move them from these positions, as RUNSTEDT realised. When we look at the performance of the Grman Normandy forces with Rommel in charge, we really cant say that his methods did anything more spectacular than would have been achieved by others.

    Only full deployment of assets right on the money at Normandy would have resulted in 'throwing the allies back into the channel', a pipedream at best, and a dangerous gamble to boot.

    As for 'so much lost axis shipping', i state again that Rommel did indeed recieve the greater majority of troops and supplies sent to him. Check the figures for yourself!

    What was done with those troops once they touched solid land was up to Rommel himself, and blame for the manner in which the campaign played itself out should not be attached to anybody but Rommel, outrunning his supplies time and again in a theater where supply was the bottom line.
     
  13. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Just as an experiment, see if you can dig up a copy of Avalon Hill's boardgame "Fortress Europa". Try for yourself an 'at the beach' type defense and see what happens to you.

    Exactly the scenario I've just mentioned will occur most of the time. With lots of coastline to defend and too few mobile units to defend it with, your guess as to the possible invasion site has to be correct at the outset. Anything else results in a faster defeat than you ever thought possible. Static divisions that cannot be moved very far away from the coast before they get trounced attempting to regroup for a counterattack, or whole groups of motorized units isolated from one another by the dominant allied airpower.

    But don't take my word for it...try this yourself and see....
     
  14. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Good point Greg!

    Hi Volga Boatman,

    Gen.FM Rommel was a superior leader but he was only real good as he was with his troops to see what happens and to react quick. Sometimes this was an advantage against his opponents. Now you will say if he stayed back in a HQ he gets the reports of all his troops at the frontline and he could make an complete picutre out of this informations. Thats right but not completely. The informations that you can get as a leader in your HQ sometimes aren´t actuall for the reason that they were sent by an courier. The courier needs time ( 1 hour or more) o reach you and if he tells you the situation it could be completely different at time. So you can make decisions of an wrong base and as an worst case scenario it will help your opponent to win the battle.
    In my personal opinion was the biggest problem that they had not enough of all things that they need. Tanks never reached their fighting position for the reason that they were running out of gas on their way to the beachheads, ammo shortage and very young soldiers that only knew how to hold the rifle in the right direction not the well trained men from 1940. than the great Luftwaffe that wasn´t to see during the landing operation

    So you can be an excellent leader but without enough troops and material you´re only a weak gambler.

    Your resumee of the complete situation is correct but i disagree with some of your points to Rommel! But i like to talk about such points to get better informations!

    All the best

    Ulrich
     
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  15. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Dont doubt my admiration for Rommel as a soldier and human being. But, this does not blind me to the fact that he made critical errors of judgement, based mainly in his inability to listen to other opinions that might have been a little better qualified.

    We all have strengths and weaknesses as people, and Rommel was human enough for those weaknesses to rise to the surface. The military is full of people promoted beyond their abilities, and unfortunately, I believe Rommel was one of them.

    I stand by my comments about his possible decisiveness if he had have been part of Armee Group Center in Russia. With other talented prima donnas like Guderian and Bock, Rommel's personality may have been enough to argue for a decisive concentration of force, as he always practiced in Africa. Combined with his hard arsed methods, his ear with Hitler may have been enough to make Adolf sit up and listen to the advice that he was given, rather than seeing the Officer Corps as a group of personalities to be dominated by indomitable willpower. Hitler always listened to Rommel and accepted his advice, even when it cost him.

    Rommel's lack of logistical training was his, and the Afrika Korps, achilles heel. I suppose we ought to thank providence that it was Rommel in Africa, rather than a more logistically minded general. His finest hour was at the end, standing up for what was right and proper, rather than putting his own self interest ahead of everything else.

    Not for nothing is Erwin Rommel well thought of by his allied opponents, and he will be fondly remembered long after many Nazi generals have been forgotten.
     
  16. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Hi Volga Boatman,

    Good statement with good and correct points!
    Believe me i am not blind of his mistakes he made enough! But his style in leading wasn´t the badest he had his own way and like you stated he made his own decisions not like others. I respect your opinion and that you stand for it! Thanks for the discussion.

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  17. Mark4

    Mark4 Ace

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    I don't know about you guys but this whole leading from the front thing seems much more exciting than the behind the desk role.
     
  18. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    You make some very good points, but i believe the decision to deploy the Panzers in Western France so far from Normandy, was made by Hitler himself. Both Runstedt and Rommel recognized the only possible way for the Germans to throw the allies back into the sea on D-day, was at the beachhead. Unless the bulk of the Panzer force were deployed close to the beach-head, there was little possibility of doing that. Hitler still thought there was a possibility the allies would land at Calais and so kept the bulk of the panzers near there. (Even after the bulk of the allied force was ashore, allied intelligence still managed to keep the possibility alive in Hitler's mind that Normandy was merely a feint.)

    In North Africa, lack of supply was indeed Rommel's undoing. some estimates put the amount of axis shipping to North Africa sunk by british planes from malta at 70%. Rommel was forced to surrender because he literally had no fuel, ammo or even water...one account reports that at the end in 1943 one German panzer unit, in desperation, had even tried to distill alcohol for fuel from a winery.
     
  19. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Rommel was good with what he had but a superior commander? Had he really been as exceptional as some in this forum would like to believe, he would be commanding troops alongside the very best and the best were not in Afrca.
     
  20. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Sloniksp's last point is telling. Africa was, for the Nazi high command, a sideshow, however you may look at it.

    Russia was always the "Big league", with the talented officers. Shine in Africa and you make a name for yourself, but shine in Russia and you have a shot at winning the war!
     

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