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How much of our WWII history is really just propaganda and myth?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by KodiakBeer, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. merdiolu

    merdiolu Member

    Oct 14, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Istanbul Turkey
    Second is about Rommel myth how he was the best commander of war , how he was brilliant , constantly defeated British , he was only defeated because of material inferiority and lack of fuel , how he was chivalrous , Rommel was anti Nazi he tried to ovewrthrow Hitler and made an honourable peace but forced to commit suicide , there was no hatred between Afrikakorps and 8th Army soldiers etc....

    This myth was preserved first of all due to incompatent command of British/Commanwealth forces in desert. Due Churchill's constant meddling of strategic affairs in Mediterranean , Wavell and Auckinleck's picking bad subordinates (Gott , Alan Cunningham , Neill Ritchie etc all of them were severely lacking in commanding and can only be described as "nice chaps" ) and inferiorty in some types of weapons , equipment ( British tanks were prone to mechanical error , anti tank guns were ineffective ) and lack of proper tactics (British armour usually lose touch with infantry , charge blindly and fall into deadly German 88 mm tank traps , leave infantry and artillery undefended , non existent coordination between 8th Army and RAF Desert Air Force) ....The result was superficially numereous 8th Army always defeated by supermen Afrikakorps in Battleaxe , Gazala , Tobruk , Marsa Matruh etc...In Britain Churchill and his goverment trying to justify defeats , cover field commanders and to keep people's spirits up lionized Rommel and added myth of super human image of Rommel and Afrikakorps already created by Goebbels after Rommel's second march to Cyreneica and Bengazi in January 1942. Aim of German Propaganda campaign about Rommel was to distract German people about serious situation in Eastern Front which was already buckling under heavy Russian attacks during 1941/42 winter. German people needed a hero. Churchill later played right into Goebbels hands by declaring Rommel "A Great Commander" in his House of Commons speech in July 1942.

    To be fair Rommel was a very skilled tactician (especially compared to initial batch of British commanders like Ritchie) an inspiring commander on battlefield. But contrary to belief he was not a genius. Rommel was a terrible logistician and bad strategist. His march to Alamein and then taking defensive position there was a huge mistake which doomed Panzer Armee Africa. For all his logistical troubles (for which he blamed Italians unjustly) he has no one but himself to blame. He took the decision to enter Egypt then hold his position at the end of a 2000 km long logistical tail under RAF Desert Force air superiorty until Panzer Armee was cut to pieces in November 1942. His march to Alamein and cancellation of Operation Hercules( invasion of Malta ) so necessary logistical resources were diverted to Afrikakorps were short sighted decisions and huge mistakes. These decisions were taken despite contrary advice from Kesselring , recommending Rommel not to invade Egypt until Malta has fallen. After Tobruk was captured in June 1942 Kesselring advised Rommel to stop. Panzer Armee was tired , logistics were already a problem due to interfarence from Malta , low loading capacity of Axis held habours in Libya and decreasing tonnage of Italian merchant fleet. Luftwaffe would also in no shape to provide air cover once German Italian Panzer Armee entered Egypt. Rommel did not listen him instead lobbied all the way to Hitler to get permission for attacking Egypt and Nile. His decision to stop and then defend at Alamein was complately illogical also.

    Rommel was not an anti Nazi or "soldier at first". In the initial stages of war he constantly seek active support and favour from Hitler to advance his career. In return Nazis gained prestige from his battlefield sucesses. If he had been sent to Eastern Front instead of Africa he would be a divison or corps commander at most. His freedom of action in Africa ( Hitler and OKW did not mind that theater much and Rommel ignored them and Commando Supremo when he was willing to ) and prestige he gained led to his overpromotion as Field Marshall. His turning to anti Nazi camp was over estimated due to biased memoirs of Hans Spiedel his chief of staff.

    Last of all War without Hate in Africa is also oversimplification. Although POWs taken by both sides generally treated well this was still war. Recently published memoirs of several soldiers mention that. Montgomery when took command of 8th Army instructed his men "to hate and kill Germans" Germans at the other hand were preparing an SS Einsatzgruppe to wipe out entire Jewish population of Palastine once they reached Suez. This Einstazgruppe later killed thousands of Tunisian jews in 1942/1943.
    Bolshevik, Tamino and ptimms like this.

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