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The fate of witnesses to Rommel's suicide

Memorial stone at the site of Erwin Rommel's suicide


On October 14, 1944, three people took Erwin Rommel outside the town of Herrlingen, where the field marshal took poison and committed suicide. The names of these people are very well known: Wilhelm Burgdorf, Ernst Maisel, and the driver SS-Hauptscharführer Heinrich Doose.

Wilhelm Burgdorf   

Wilhelm Burgdorf was the main and responsible person in the removal of Rommel. It was he who handed the poison capsule to Rommel, and was also near the car during the tragic scene. In the same month, his dirty deeds were appreciated and he became Adolf Hitler's chief adjutant.


In April 1945, Burgdorf was in Hitler's bunker and from there coordinated the defense of Berlin. On 28 April, he was appointed by Hitler to be a member of Himmler's tribunal after it became known that Himmler was trying to reach out to the Americans to negotiate terms of surrender.


The next day he was one of the witnesses and signed Hitler's will. After that, like his Fuhrer, he committed suicide at the age of 51. On May 1, 1945, at approximately 21:30, Wilhelm Burgdorf shot himself in the hallway of the bunker's common dining room with a service pistol.

Ernst Maisel

Ernst Maisel accompanied Wilhelm Burgdorf on his trip to see Rommel. After the war, in 1948, a trial began for his participation in the assassination of Field Marshal Rommel, and in the summer of 1949 he began to give his first testimony.

During interrogations, he laid all the blame on Burgdorf, since he was no longer alive and he could no longer refute anything. Maisel said he knew nothing about the poison and did not know what was going to happen to Rommel. At the same time, his testimony in some places diverged from the testimony of the driver Heinrich Doose, with whom they seemed to have moved away from the car where Rommel committed suicide.


Thus, after a week-long trial, on July 4, 1949, he escaped any punishment and lived in Bavaria until 1978, when he was 82 years old. Already after the trials, Manfred Rommel told the press about that sad day when Maisel and Burgdorf came to Rommel. The three of them talked all the time and Maisel did not go anywhere. From this it is clear that Maisel clearly knew and understood everything. He may have walked away from the car with the driver, but he knew exactly what was about to happen.

On October 1, 1944, Ernst Maisel was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and placed in command of the 68th Infantry Division. On May 7, 1945, he was captured by the Americans and held in custody until March 1947. Nothing is known about his life after 1949.

Heinrich Doose

During the final days of the war, Heinrich Doose was in Hitler's bunker, which he left with Hitler's personal driver, Erich Kempka. On May 1, 1945, they left the bunker as part of a group of several people. On the rails of the Berlin underground, they got to the Fredrichstraße station. Then they joined the group, which included Matrin Bormann.

After that, the actions of Heinrich Doose are not known. In 1946, he testified to British intelligence about the death of Erwin Rommel, which is in the Berchtesgaden military intelligence records. Heinrich lived a full life and died in 1974 at the age of 77. Nothing is known about his activities after 1946.

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