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50 stories about Erwin Rommel

Stories about Erwin Rommel

1.     After returning from Poland, Rommel approached Hitler and asked for a new appointment:
- And what do you want? - Hitler asked.
- Panzer division!!! - answered Rommel.

Hitler loved and respected the young general and believed that he was capable of much. On February 15, 1940, Rommel's dream came true - he replaced Lieutenant General Georg Stumme as commander of the 7th Panzer Division.

2.     One misty morning of the first days of the French campaign Erwin Rommel’s forward units of the 7th Panzer Division were surprise by French tanks attack. Erwin Rommel was never afraid to take a risk and his energetic leadership and improvisation skills always gave him the upper hand. Rommel went right up to the front ordering his troops to fire their signal pistols at the incoming tanks. Surprised and confused the French tanks veered off. It gave artillery enough time to find its target.

3.     On the morning of May 17, 1940, Rommel realized that he advanced 50km and had cut himself too far from his main forces, so the offensive had stopped between Le Cateau-Cambrésis City and Landrecies City. He had just a few tanks and motorcycles with him. Left the forward units to wait and hold the defense, he himself turned back to get his main forces.

On the way back, Rommel ordered his driver not to stop because they met separate French small units that were confused and could not get together, because they did not understand where the front line was. Finally, they were behind a large convoy of 40 Franch supplies trucks and Rommel drove up and passed it. Then he stopped the lead vehicle, told the French officer and the crew of trucks to get out and disperse.    

4.     Rommel nearly died in a tank on May 14, 1940, when he came under heavy enemy artillery and anti-tank fire near Onhaye, Belgium. Rommel's tank received two hits one after the other: the first in the upper edge of the tower and the second in the periscope. From the explosion of a shell in the periscope, hot fragments flew and one fragment hit Rommel's face, leaving a bloody wound on his cheek. Then the tank went out of control, turned over on its side 500 meters from the enemy. With a bloodied face, Rommel tried to turn the 37mm turret gun to face the enemy, but due to gravity and the awkward angle at which the heavy turret was placed, the gun did not budge. Rommel and his crew abandoned the tank and the French opened fire but they still managed to escape through the ravine.

5.     On May 21, in the Arras area, Rommel's advanced units were attacked by 2 French tank regiments, a total of 70 tanks. Rommel was not prepared for this. At this point, he gave the order to lower the 88mm FlaK 88 anti-aircraft guns to a horizontal position, located behind his defensive lines. This was the first time that the "FlaKs" began to be used to destroy tanks. The result was simply stunning - there was no better weapon for fighting tanks. After this incident, "FlaKs" were used not only to fight enemy air forces, but also against tanks, on all fronts until the last day of the war.

6.     On May 28, 1940, the headquarters of Rommel's division came under heavy artillery fire from a neighboring German division. Rommel wrote: "There was no doubt that these were our own shells, probably 150mm, with the effect of which we were all too familiar." Rommel's soldiers lit green flares to force the friendly fire to stop, but to no avail. The only thing left was to contact the artillery by radio, but the communications truck was in the firing zone. The brave Rommel rushed into the danger zone, accompanied by Erdmann, commander of the 37th reconnaissance battalion. Erdmann ran faster and a heavy projectile landed in front of him. Rommel wrote that Erdmann received severe head and back wounds, due to which he died instantly, while Rommel himself was lucky and was not wounded. In the end, Rommel got to the communications truck and managed to stop the shelling.

7.     On June 10, 1940, Rommel had a great success pushing some inactive troops into action, though he nearly paid a heavy price for it. Erwin Rommel was driving in a car as part of a tank column when the enemy suddenly opened anti-tank fire from the village they were approaching. The lead tank received a direct hit on one of the tracks and stalled, blocking the movement of the column. French anti-tank artillery opened fire on the German column.

Rommel later wrote: "Without returning fire, the tanks in front of us drove straight onto the embankment on both sides of the road. The lead tank remained in place of the downed one. Now my car was left standing only 150 meters from the enemy gun, and shell after shell whistled overhead. When, after two or three minutes, our tanks had not yet opened fire, I jumped off the car and ran to the tank, which was standing on an embankment to the left of the road, where I also, to my surprise, saw the commander of the leading main tank. I told him that I think of him for leaving his tank and not opening fire right away."

After a thrashing from Rommel, the Germans reorganized and returned fire, suppressing the enemy fire.

8.     On June 18, 1940, in the area south of the Redoute du Tot in France on the final day of his campaign, Erwin Rommel came under friendly fire for the second time in a month. Rommel checked the positions of the machine gun platoons and made adjustments. Having finished expressing his opinion to the platoon leader, he was about to leave the place, when suddenly shells began to fall behind them. Rommel wrote: “Apparently, these were shells from our own artillery. We dived straight into cover in the trench to our right, but not before one of the shells killed the dispatcher and wounded the communications officer, a non-commissioned officer, and a second messenger.

9.     During the French campaign of 1940, Erwin Rommel developed and put into practice a new topographical system for breaking down maps of the area into squares indicated by numbers and letters. This allowed Rommel's tankers to quickly orient themselves on the ground and report their location using a special code. Since 1941, this topographic system has spread in the Wehrmacht due to its simplicity, reliability and efficiency.

10.     After a successful French campaign, Erwin Rommel was nearly killed by a civilian in June 1940. On a square in the western outskirts of Flers, suddenly, a few meters from the column, a civilian with a revolver ran up to Rommel's car, intending to shoot, but the French troops stopped him.

11.     In Catania in Sicily, the day before his flight to North Africa, Rommel asked the commander of the 10th German Air Force General Heisler to strike on Benghazi and the British columns, which were located near the City according to intelligence service information. Geisler refused, saying that he would not able to carry out such  operation, since many top Italian officers and government officials had their own homes in Benghazi and Italian authorities would not be allowed to strike on this City. Rommel angry asked Hitler's headquarters and quickly received permission to conduct an air raid. 

12.     Since the tanks were sorely lacking, and the forces of the Alliance were three times larger, Rommel set up the production of the famous "Rommel's Tanks". They were made of papier-mâché, and models were installed on army vehicles. Every night they were transported from place to place, blocking all tank-dangerous directions. The trick was a success and very soon British intelligence, followed by the press, started talking about at least 500 tanks and several German tank divisions in Libya. This allowed Rommel to deal a crushing blow to the British with his small forces during the offensive that began in March 1941. But this was only the first use of "Rommel's Tanks".

13.     During the offensive on Benghazi in 1941 contrary to the fears of the Italians, Rommel placed Italian tanks together with “Rommel’s Tanks” behind the first line of German tanks. From about 200km distance it was difficult to determine that the tanks were not real. It gave a picture of a huge and massive tank attack. As a result, the British forces retreated and by April 4, 1941, Benghazi was totally captured.

14.     In Benghazi Rommel saw 3 tanks from the reconnaissance battalion which stopped for refuel near an abandoned English warehouse.

"What's the matter?" Rommel asked angrily

"We're refueling, Herr General" answered the officer


Rommel became finally angry: "I do not ask what you do! I’m asking why you are still here, although there is absolutely nothing to do here!? Don’t let me see you again!"


The puzzled officer looked around and then he smiled – it is possible to refuel in the next English warehouse just a hundred kilometers to the East!

15.     During the first offensive in Libya, Rommel constantly flew on the Fieseler-Storch for to adjust the route of his motorized convoys in the desert and point them in the right direction. He landed, gave orders, pointed landmarks, hurried up and demanded non-stop move to El Mechili. Once he was in a hurry and he had no time to land but flying along his usual route, the General discovered a motorized company stopped for rest, although by his calculations for this time it should be much further. The airplane turned around, flew over the convoy and dropped a short but convincing note: "If you do not immediately get in the car, then l will have to land. Rommel."

16.     On April 7, 1941, Erwin Rommel almost landed his reconnaissance aircraft among British troops near Mechili. This time he was looking for the lost German column. Assuming he had found his missing troops, he began his descent. Fortunately for Rommel, his sharp eyesight saved him from captivity at the last minute. He wrote: "At the last moment, I suddenly noticed the flat helmets of British soldiers. We immediately banked and left, followed by machine-gun fire from the British troops. We were lucky to get away virtually unscathed, with just one hit in the tail."

17.     On April 8, 1941, the day after Rommel almost landed his aircraft on the British lines, he was again in the sky to control the offensive in the El Mechili area. Flying over the Italian units, fire suddenly opened from the ground. Rommel, wrote with ironic humor: "The Italians, apparently, were so confused by our sudden appearance above their heads that they opened fire on us from all sides at a distance of 50 to 100 meters. It is a miracle that we were not shot down, and this is not in favor of Italian accuracy."

18.     During the siege of El Mechili in 1941, Erwin Rommel ordered to bind the trees and bushes on long cables to all auxiliary machines and to some light Italian tanks. The Italian tanks were in the first line, behind them where auxiliary machines, field kitchens and staff cars. Bundles of trees and bushes raised huge clouds of dust. For the British it looked like a full-scale attack of large forces. The British not only retreated but also withdrew additional forces from other areas of defense. At the same time, Rommel attacked from a completely different direction by the German tank divisions. The British were completely disoriented and defeated.

19.     In early April 1941, Rommel landed in El Mechili, returning from his personal reconnaissance of the situation in the desert. After a short conversation with the captured British generals, Rommel looked with great interest on their captured huge large machines, which the Germans called "Mammoths", one of which was used for its intended purpose by Rommel himself. He watched as British equipment was removed from the trucks. Among the unloading things, he noticed a pair of huge goggles. He liked them. He smiled and said: “Even a general is allowed to take booty. I'll take these glasses for myself." He put his glasses on over the visor of his cap with gold piping and since then these glasses have become the main feature of the Desert Fox.

20.     Rommel's reconnaissance trips through the desert were constantly accompanied by danger. On April 19, 1941, Erwin Rommel was preparing an offensive in the vicinity of Tobruk. Suddenly, there was a British air raid on a column of Rommel's command vehicles, which was moving about 10 km west of Bardia. "The driver of my all-terrain vehicle Engert died, the car received 25 hits. My courier, Private Kantak, also died", Rommel later said. The Desert Fox himself was saved by the reliable body of the captured Mammoth. Rommel waited until dark, got behind the wheel of an armored car and drove towards the location of his headquarters in the desert, bypassing Tobruk to the south. He wrote: "It was a very dark night and we tried to navigate by the stars, but the sky was eventually covered with clouds, so I had to give up this attempt and wait for the morning."

21.     General Paulus, Deputy Halder, flew to Rommel, right before the first attack on Tobruk which began on April 30, 1941. The visit was caused by the fact that Halder was not interested in any actions in Africa that could require reinforcements at the expense of German troops which were busy on the main theater of war and preparing at that time offensive on Soviet Union. He also felt an instinctive aversion to Hitler's propensity to support such dynamic commanders as Erwin Rommel, who did not want to follow the instructions developed by the OKW. General Paulus flew to Africa "to prevent this soldier from completely losing his mind" – this is how Halder sarcastically wrote in his diary about Rommel.

22.    Before Operation Battleaxe which began on June 15, 1941, Erwin Rommel installed his 88mm anti-aircraft guns Flak-88 behind the U-imaginative sand hillocks and dug them into the ground. They were dug so deep that the barrel of the gun towered above the level of sand by only 30-60cm. Then around each gun position was pulled a lightweight awning of the sand color, so that even with binoculars it was impossible to determine the fire positions in the sand. When the English saw a lot of such sand dunes, it did not cause them any concern, since they did not know any German heavy weapons with such a low silhouette.

     Then Rommel sent his light tanks into a fictitious attack on the British positions. English cruising tanks moved forward feeling an easy victory, while the German light tanks turned and retreated behind the line of 88mm guns. When the distance between Flak-88 and Allies tanks was reduced to a minimum, the guns opened fire. The first message received from the commander of the tank battalion by the radiotelephone "They tore my tanks to pieces" was the last his report. This tank trap by the English soldiers was rightly called "Hellfire Pass". Only 1 of 13 Matilda tanks survived at one point of this breakthrough.

23.     In mid-November 1941, the British special forces carried out an operation to eliminate Rommel under the name "Flipper". The plan to attack Rommel's residence in Beda Littoria was developed by Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Keyes, who led the main group to attack the residence far beyond the front line.

During the attack, Rommel was not there, and as it turned out later, he had never been there. Keyes was killed in a shootout with the Afrika Korps. Rommel was surprised at the insolence of the British commandos when he learned what had happened. Despite the failure of the operation, Rommel said: "It was a brilliant operation with incredible courage." He ordered to bury Keyes with all military honors and send photographs from the burial site to his relatives. This act won a great deal of respect for Rommel among the British commandos.

24.     According to Lieutenant General Fritz Bayerlein, at the end of November 1941, Erwin Rommel personally organized the regrouping of his 21st Panzer Division. On the way to Sidi Omar in Libya, one car broke down. The only captured British truck, the Mammoth, now carried all the most senior officers of the tank group, which saved their lives after they got lost, which happened very often in the desert.

The British around were doing their business, not having the slightest idea that among them was the core of the enemy command of the tank group. Indian couriers, British tanks, American supply trucks passed by the Mammoth. Erwin Rommel, ten officers and five soldiers spent a restless night until they found their way to their troops.

25.     Allies troops were horrified of the mention of Erwin Rommel and as evidence can be an Order of Auchinleck, the General of the British Empire Army in 1942: 

"To all Senior Officers and Department Heads of staffs of at G.H.Q. and with the Middle East Troops.  
There is a real danger that our friend Rommel will become a “bogeyman” for our troops. Soldiers tell stories about him and his name has a hypnotic effect on them. He is not a superhuman. However, talks about his ability and energy are not empty. In this regard, it would be extremely undesirable for our troops to endow him with supernatural attributes. I must beg you to put any effort to inspire the concept that Rommel is nothing more than an ordinary German General. First of all, we should not use the word Rommel when referring to the enemy in Libya. We must speak about Germans, Axis troops or the enemy, but never, in this particular context, of Rommel. I must ask you to care about this Order and make sure that all our junior commanders instructed that the matter is of great psychological significance.

     Signed: C.I. Auchinleck
     C-in-C of the Middle East Forces
     P.S.: I do not envy Rommel."

26.     On April 10, 1942, a fragment from an artillery shell flew into the window of Rommel's staff car. It hit the Desert Fox right in the lower abdomen, penetrating the coat and jacket, but was stopped by the trousers. Rommel wrote that only a multi-colored bruise the size of a plate remained from the fragment on the stomach.

27.     During the second Rommel’s attack on Tobruk in late May 1942, British General Ritchie sent victorious reports from El Ghazala to Cairo and radioed to London that "he put Rommel into a bottle and now it remains only to shake the General out of it". He did not shake out the General and a month later run away from Tobruk.

28.     After the destruction of the 150th British brigade on June 2, 1942, Moscow radio reported that Generaloberst Rommel was captured. Obviously, Russians confused him with General Cruwell because he behaved like any prisoner and all the other officers of the African Corps. He was transported to Shepherd, one of the most famous hotels in Cairo and British allocated him luxury apartments. Cruwell noticed that "Rommel will probably stop here." Adolf Hitler was so pleased with this phrase that German propaganda informed the world about it.

29.     From the memoirs of the Allies officer Chap about the retreat to Tobruk: "Everyone had a nauseating feeling because the enemy surpassed us in number and skill. We literally felt the power of the genius of the German Field Marshal. He ordered music and we came a step behind. Rommel concentrated his forces but we just spent our resources on trifles. If the Germans attacked, they did it by a massive assault. When you saw their tanks, the columns and flank covers, it seemed that the whole world was rushing at you. The style of the Germans was magnificent and brave, so they rushed forward! Each of them was a small Rommel. Discovering the slightest gap, they used it mercilessly and without hesitation. The Germans turned small victories into one big triumph. We differed in courage but did not have their tactical skills. Our counterattacks were like children's fights - a rush of the soul and no sense." 

30.     The British, believing in the early success of the operation Crusader, did not expect decisive actions from the Tank Army "Africa" of Erwin Rommel at the end of May 1942. But on May 26, having gathered all its forces into a fist, the Desert Fox attacked the 8th British Army which was considerably superior to them (three times only in tanks). The result was a sudden retreat of the British on June 21 and the capture of unapproachable early fortress Tobruk, along with 33.000 prisoners.


Admired Hitler appropriated Rommel the title of Field Marshal. In the evening of the same day, Rommel wrote to his wife about this landmark event. In the letter he said, reminding the losses of his valiant troops: "Hitler made me Field Marshal but I would be rather happier if he gives me one more division."


Rommel never received significant reinforcements after Tobruk as the result was his defeat at El Alamein and the subsequent expulsion of Germans and Italians from North Africa.


31.     The glazed, with the refined manners, well-educated, having numerous connections and highly cultured Kesselring was absolutely not ready to communicate with Erwin Rommel, the brutal, straightforward, persevering, very obstinate commander of the Tank Army Africa.


The methods of Rommel shocked the polite Kesselring who was accustomed to attend headquarters to meet there the commanders. Rommel, however, thought the opposite way. He believed that the commands should be given on the battlefield. His staff officers were supporting the contact with the Italians and the Luftwaffe. Kesselring knew that trying to talk to Rommel face to face would not help. Therefore, the Field Marshal decided to try to influence the behavior of the commander through his trusted OKW officers: Alfred Gause and Siegfried Westphal.


Kesselring began this way: "My dear Gause, this can not continue anymore. Rommel should not go through the front line. He is no longer a divisional or corps commander. I must have a connection with the Army commander. You must convince him."


But if Kesselring expected the consent of the old friends from OKW, then he was disappointed. Gause replied: “Herr Field Marshal, Generalaberst will not be able to hold. He just gets in a car and leaves, and a truck with a radio station will not overtake him. Either this truck will blow up from the enemy fire...  And anyway, how can he command here in Africa, sitting in the rear? This is a war where everything is decided at the front.”


But the conservative Bavarian remained at his opinion. He gloomily remarked: "One day this will lead to catastrophic consequences, gentlemen!" 


32.     During the night from May 30 to May 31, major Archer-Shee from the 10th hussar corps was in the "cauldron" as an unwelcome guest of the Africa Korps. He was captured at the beginning of the battle when the 3rd motorized brigade was destroyed, and now he was tormented by thirst. All this time Major was in an improvised prisoner of war camp surrounded by 88mm guns on the border of minefields. The British have not been given water for a long time. When the Major learned that Rommel's headquarters were nearby, he gathered all his courage and demanded a meeting with the German General. To his great surprise, Archer-Shee was transferred to the Desert Fox. In broken German, he told the commander of the Panzer Army Africa that he should release prisoners if he could not provide them with food and water. The mayor said that the English should be fed and drunk, or immediately returned to their own.


Rommel listened with a smile to the brave hussar and then suddenly announced: "You get exactly the same portions of water as the whole African Korps and I myself - half a cup. But I agree that this can not continue. If we do not get through the transport column tonight, I'll ask General Ritchie for his terms. In this case, I will send you with a letter to him ... "


33.     On May 26, 1942, an offensive began on El Gazala, the last line in front of Tobruk. Rommel personally led the offensive in the lead tank and went into the rear of the enemy. By morning, due to a lack of fuel, the situation of Panzer Army "Africa" became critical, but Rommel again saved the situation. Having personally assumed command of the transport columns, he led them into a gap in the enemy's defenses, which he had discovered the night before, and safely led them to his troops. 

34.     Before the attack on Bir Hakeim which ended with success on June 11, 1942, the OKW sent Rommel an order concerning "the numerous German political emigrants" (means Jews) who fought on the side of the defenders of the city - the 1st Free France division.


The order was: "The Führer orders to destroy those without any exception. They should be mercilessly killed during the battle. If this did not happen, they should be shot immediately after the battle, immediately and without exception, according to the order of the first German officer. No postponement of the death penalty. Any written orders under this order are strictly prohibited. Commanders should receive only verbal instructions."


No one in Rommel's army had heard of this order and no copies had been found in the documents after the war. Like other orders that Rommel did not suit, this one just disappeared. Obviously, the general simply burned his copy of the document, not showing it to anyone and never mentioned it. The Jews were treated fairly humanely and they were handed over to the Italians who treated them like ordinary prisoners of war.


35.     After the capture of Tobruk and 33,000 prisoners on June 21, 1941, a group of South African officers demanded that they be placed in a special prisoner of war camp, separate from the white ones. Rommel roughly rejected this demand, replying that the blacks were also soldiers of the South African Union. If they are good enough to wear uniforms and fight next to whites, they will enjoy equal rights in captivity.


36.     After the fall of Tobruk, Rommel was promoted to the General Field Marshals. Becoming the youngest Marshal of Germany, he celebrated the new title in a characteristic manner, having eaten a can of canned pineapple and drinking a small bottle of whiskey from captured trophies from the English.


37.     After the capture of Tobruk, the next day front-line journalists flew from Africa to Berlin to sanctify the events of the capture of the fortress from the first mouth. One of the journalists, present at the dinner at the Fuhrer's headquarters, once again personally to Hitler began to tell the story of the conquest of the fortress. After several phrases, the journalist realized that Hitler thoroughly knows all the details of a rapid breakthrough and even the seizure of water sources from the last steep descent to the fortress. Hitler read a surprise in the eyes of the journalist and said: "Yes, somehow Rommel told me how he plans to capture Tobruk… My youngest Marshal." Then he grinned and added: "Cunning fox! Such things are possible for him only!" The journalist published this expression in the newspaper and after that Rommel received the nickname the Desert Fox. There is also a version that this nickname Rommel received after he was so named in the article of the British newspaper The Times.


38.     On the morning of June 24, 1942, after the capture of Tobruk, Rommel received a telegram: "Duce endorses the intention of the German Panzer Army to pursue the enemy on the territory of Egypt." A few days later Mussolini flew to Derna, ready for triumphal entry into Cairo with Victory Parade. On another flight, for this purpose his white horse was delivered.


After the problems that have arisen near El-Alamein, without supplies, reinforcements, equipment, and taking into account the constantly arriving reinforcements of the Allied troops, the Desert Fox had only one way – the retreating to the west. Mussolini's white horse, proudly seated on which he received from Balbo the Sword of Islam at the parade in Tripoli, was returned back to Italy by Rommel's order. 


39.     Rommel constantly drives along the front line in a car or motorcycle - he sees his soldiers, and soldiers see him. Sometimes they feel the full force of his anger but they still admire the Field Marshal. The soldiers of the Afrika Korps even replenished the German language with a new word – they never say "taken" about the capturing a fortified point of the enemy, but "gerommelt" what looks like "Rommelinated".


40.     During the retreat of the Allies to Alexandria in 1942, part of the British battery was surrounded and was forced to surrender. The German captain who kept them under siege captured a high-ranking British officer (this prisoner was Desmond Jung, who later became a Brigadier General and wrote one of the best books about Field Marshal Rommel). A German officer demanded at gunpoint that Jung order the other troops to surrender and lay down their arms, but Jung refused. Suddenly the dust rose in a column, a staff car appeared ... and Rommel himself came out. The captain reported on the situation.


The Desert Fox thought and said: "No, such a requirement will undermine the spirit of chivalry and will come into conflict with the honest rules of warfare." He ordered his subordinate to find another solution to the problem and then offered Jung an ice tea with a lemon from his own flask.


41.     When German troops approaching Cairo and captured the British hospital in Mersa Matruh, over a hundred Allies medics refused to abandon their wounded patients, even many of them were Italians and Germans. Instead of a cowardly escape, British doctors and nurses remained in their places and transferred the hospital in complete safety to the coming forces of the Africa Korps. When Rommel was informed about this situation, he came there, shook hands with all the doctors, medical nurses and other staff, thanking for the care of his fellow tribesmen and assuring them that they would not be taken prisoner. Moreover, he personally controlled their sending to neutral Switzerland.


42.     In 1942, most likely during the Battle of El Alamein, the new adjutant, the fifth in a few months, reported to him about his arrival. The Field Marshal replied to him: "I want to wish you good luck, four of your predecessors died!"


43.     During the planning of the assassination attempt on Rommel in the autumn of 1942, the desert group at the briefing was very unhappy with the fact that the main work on the destruction of Rommel was to be carried out by the aircrafts. One of the instructors, Peddi Maine said: "Yes, luck is controversial. Ganses can kill us even before stripping after an air strike. But in this sport, we must show good speed. Do not lose hope, guys. I have repeatedly seen how the bouncers from aviation ended up with a zero result. If they screw up, we will not miss our chance."


Major Main was not mistaken - after giving the signal, the Royal Air Force aircrafts wrecked everything around and almost destroyed all the members of this expedition. Meanwhile the main goal - Rommel's "Mammoth", left untouched. Later, Wilder, participant of this expedition, said: "I saw that this rubbish, as big as Aunt Fanny's ass, remained untouchable."

44.     Manfred Rommel said that in January 1943 his father's appointment at Hitler's headquarters in Rastenburg was a personal initiative of Rommel himself, which was unacceptable. Nevertheless, Hitler received Rommel and there was a verbal skirmish between them.


Rommel told Hitler that due to the current situation it was necessary to evacuate troops from North Africa. Hitler got angry and asked Rommel:

     - How many rifles are there in your army?

     - I didn't count them!

     - A great general who doesn't know how many rifles he has!

     - Well, then it would be better if you personally come to Africa and show us how to fight against Montgomery with Carbines 98.

     - Go away! - shouted an enraged Hitler


Rommel had already begun to leave when Hitler followed him and stopped him. The conversation continued, but Rommel was finally convinced of the inadequacy of Hitler.


45.     In January 1943, at a meeting between Goering, Mussolini, and Rommel, between the Desert Fox and the Reichsmarschall Luftwaffe, a clash occurred. Rommel reported to Goering about the experience of the struggle between the Panzer Army Africa and the superior forces of the British Air Force. He warned against the danger of underestimating the U.S. aid and pointed the need for the more intensive development of the domestic aviation industry. Goring coolly said: "Our airplanes and our military pilots are the best in the World. Your stories about enemy aviation remind me of hunting fables. And Americans know how to make only good blades for shaving!"


Rommel nearly choked with indignation and abruptly answered: "Herr Reichsmarschall, I highly recommend you to come to Africa and watch these notorious blades. I would not mind if our Luftwaffe were shaving their opponents exactly the same way!" Goering cast an angry glance at Rommel, fell silent, and then changed the subject of the conversation.

46.     Erwin Rommel did not seem to be intimidated by his constant encounters with danger and death, which he spoke about with irony and humor in his letters and memoirs. Although Rommel's risky behavior was frustrating to his staff, his soldiers appreciated his bold attitude and his direct contact with them. Alfred Berndt described the reaction of the soldiers in a letter dated February 26, 1943: "It was wonderful to see the joy of his troops during the last few days when Rommel rode along their columns. And when, in the middle of the attack, he appeared in the division directly with the advanced infantry reconnaissance in front of the tank wedges, and lay down in the mud among the soldiers under artillery fire - light up the eyes of the soldiers!"

His association with the men under his command contributed greatly to his success on the battlefield.

47.     In a narrow circle of people close to him, Marshal often recalled Hitler's critical remarks about the fact that Paulus should have shot himself as a sign of loyalty to the Fuhrer, and not to surrender. Rommel always said that he understands and approves of Paulus's actions. If the Führer's order did not withdraw him from Africa, and he was lucky to survive in the course of brutal fighting, he would like to share the bitter fate of his soldiers in an enemy captivity same as Paulus: "To surrender along with your army takes much more courage than simply to shoot a bullet through your forehead."


48.     When the SS-Galicia division was being formed, the soldiers were scattered all over Europe being trained in various SS schools. One such school was in the south of France in Po, where there was a whole regiment of Ukrainians. They had their chaplain and regularly went to the local church. In Po, also at that time was Erwin Rommel. Having called one of the divisional senior sergeant-Ukrainians, Rommel had a long conversation with him.


An officer of the SS-Galicia division describes this episode as follows: "A group of German Generals was standing near me, one of them was the famous Rommel. He asked me in surprise: "What is this SS who visit a church?" I told him it was the Galician Ukrainians. After Rommel asked me a lot about the Ukrainians, and for a long time I told him who we were and what we are fighting at war for."


49.     After Rommel told his viewpoint of the future defeat of Germany in 1943, the journalist supported the conversation by criticizing the action of the German Air Force, than Rommel said: "Do not even remind me of the Luftwaffe. When I hear the word Goering my bile comes up in my throat!"

50.     According to adjutant Lang, after being wounded on July 17, 1944, Erwin Rommel underwent rehabilitation in a French hospital. By July 26, he was already active and began to take an interest in affairs at the front. He wondered why the German press had not yet officially reported on his injury, although his name had been used by propaganda. Because of this, he feared that he would be held responsible for the inevitable collapse of the front. In this regard, he tried to return to duty as soon as possible. Sick and rebellious, he refuses to acknowledge the severity of his injuries and go to bed as requested. As a result, the surgeon brought him a human skull, taken in the pathology department, and split it with a hammer. "This is the condition of your skull!", he exclaimed, completing the demonstration. This helped calm Rommel a little.

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