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Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel was born in Heidenheim, Germany, on 15th November, 1891. He wanted to study engineering but his father disapproved so in 1910 he joined the German Army.

By the outbreak of the First World War Rommel had reached the rank of lieutenant. He fought on the Western Front and in January 1915 won the Iron Cross.

In 1917 Rommel served on the Italian Front and after leading the attack on Monte Matajur, was promoted to captain. Soon afterwards Rommel and a small group of men swam the Piave River in order to capture the Italian garrison at Lognaroni.

After the war Rommel remained in the German Army and in 1929 he was appointed an instructor at the Infantry School in Dresden. In October 1935 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and began teaching at the Potsdam War Academy.

An excellent teacher, Rommel's lectures were published as a book on infantry tactics in 1937. The book was read by Adolf Hitler. Greatly impressed by Rommel's ideas Hitler arranged for him to command his HQ staff in Austria and Czechoslovakia. The following year he did the same job in Poland.

Rommel was given command of the 7th Panzer Division that invaded France in May, 1940. Rommel's troops moved faster and farther than any other army in military history. After reaching the Channel he turned south and raced along the coast until he reached the Spanish border.

As a result of his exploits in France he was promoted to the rank of general. When Benito Mussolini asked for help in North Africa Adolf Hitler sent Rommel to command the new Deutsches Afrika Korps and successfully drove the British 8th Army out of Libya. He moved into Egypt but was defeated at El Alamein. With the USA Army landing in Morocco and Algeria, his troops were forced to leave Tunisia.

In the early months 1944 Rommel was approached by Ludwig Beck and Carl Goerdeler about joining the July Plot. Rommel refused, criticising the tactic of assassination claiming that it would turn Adolf Hitler into a martyr. Instead he suggested that he should be arrested and brought to trial.

Rommel was now sent to head the German Army in France that was preparing for the Allied invasion. Unable to halt the Allied troops during Operation Overlord, on 15th July, 1944, Rommel warned Hitler that Germany was on the verge of defeat and encouraged him to bring the war to an end.

In the summer of 1944 Rommel was approached about joining the July Plot. He refused, criticising the tactic of assassination claiming that it would turn Adolf Hitler into a martyr. Instead he suggested that he should be arrested and brought to trial.

In the autumn of 1944 Hitler discovered that Rommel was plotting against him. On 14th October, 1944, Rommel was visited by two generals who had been sent by Hitler with an ultimatum: suicide with a state funeral and protection for his family and staff, or trial for high treason. Erwin Rommel took poison and officially it was stated that he had died of a brain seizure.




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