Erwin Rommel

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Erwin Rommel
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1973-012-43, Erwin Rommel.jpg
Birth name Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel
Nickname "The Desert Fox"
Birth date 15 November 1891(1891-11-15)
Place of birth Heidenheim an der Brenz, Kingdom of Württemberg, German Empire
Death date 14 October 1944 (aged 52)
Place of death Herrlingen, Gau Württemberg-Hohenzollern, German Reich
Resting place Herrlingen cemetery
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch Flagge und Wappen, Deutsches Reich, Königreich Württemberg, valid from 1817 to 1918.png Army of Württemberg
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
War Ensign of the Reichswehr, 1919 - 1935.png Reichswehr
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Years of service 1910–1944
Rank WMacht H OF10 GenFeldmarschall01 h 1942.png Generalfeldmarschall
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross
Pour le Mérite
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations ∞ 1916 Lucia Maria Mollin

Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel (also: Erwin Johannes Eugen; 15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was a German officer of the Army of Württemberg, the Imperial German Army, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht as well as recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He was one of the most famous German field marshals of World War II.


Rommel with his mother and his two younger brothers Karl (1897–c. 1969), later Leutnant of the Luftstreitkräfte in WWI,[1] then dentist, and Gerhard[t] (1899–1975), later opera singer.[2]
Oberleutnant Erwin Rommel, Kompanieführer im Württembergischen Gebirgs-Bataillon.jpg
Erwin Rommel IV.jpg
Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel.jpg
Erwin rommel and wife.jpg

Erwin Rommel attended the Latin School (Lateinschule) in Aalen from 1900 to 1908 and the Realgymnasium Schwäbisch Gmünd from 1908 to 1910 (today: Parler-Gymnasium), where he graduated with Abitur.[3] On 19 July 1910, Rommel joined the Württemberg Infantry Regiment No. 124 in Weingarten as an officer candidate, studying at the Officer Cadet School in Danzig, where he graduated on 25 November 1911. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 27 January 1912 and was assigned to the 124th Infantry in Weingarten. In Danzig, during an officer's ball, he met his future wife Lucie-Maria Mollin. In Weingarten, in 1912, he met Walburga Stemmer, with whom he would have a stormy affair. She would become the mother of his illegitimate daughter Gertrud in 1913. But he did not forget Lucie-Maria, and, at the urging of his parents, later asked her to marry him.


During World War I, Rommel fought in France as well as in the Romanian (notably at the Second Battle of the Jiu Valley) and Italian campaigns. He successfully employed the tactics of penetrating enemy lines with heavy covering fire coupled with rapid advances, as well as moving forward rapidly to a flanking position to arrive at the rear of hostile positions, to achieve tactical surprise. His first combat experience was on 22 August 1914 as a platoon commander near Verdun, when – catching a French garrison unprepared – Rommel and three men opened fire on them without ordering the rest of his platoon forward. Rommel was promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant) on 18 September 1915 and transferred to the newly created Royal Wurttemberg Mountain Battalion of the Alpenkorps. In August 1917, his unit was involved in the battle for Mount Cosna, a heavily fortified objective on the border between Hungary and Romania, which they took after two weeks of difficult uphill fighting. The Mountain Battalion was next assigned to the Isonzo front, in a mountainous area in Italy. The offensive, known as the Battle of Caporetto, began on 24 October 1917. Rommel's battalion, consisting of three rifle companies and a machine gun unit, was part of an attempt to take enemy positions on three mountains: Kolovrat, Matajur, and Stol. In two and a half days, from 25 to 27 October, Rommel and his 150 men captured 81 guns and 9,000 men (including 150 officers), at a loss of six fallen and 30 wounded.

Rommel achieved this remarkable success by taking advantage of the terrain to outflank the Italian forces, attacking from unexpected directions or behind enemy lines, and taking the initiative to attack when he had orders to the contrary. In one instance, the Italian forces, taken by surprise and believing that their lines had collapsed, surrendered after a brief firefight. In this battle, Rommel helped pioneer infiltration tactics, a new form of manoeuvre warfare just being adopted by German armies, and later by foreign armies, and described by some as Blitzkrieg without Panzer, though he played no role in the early adoption of Blitzkrieg in World War II. Acting as advance guard in the capture of Longarone on 9 November, Rommel again decided to attack with a much smaller force. Convinced that they were surrounded by an entire German division, the 1st Italian Infantry Division – 10,000 men – surrendered to Rommel. For this and his actions at Matajur, he received the order of Pour le Mérite. In January 1918, Rommel was promoted to Hauptmann (captain) and assigned to a staff position in the 64th Army Corps, where he served for the remainder of the war.


He was the commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps and also became known by the nickname “The Desert Fox” for the skilful military campaigns he waged on behalf of the Wehrmacht in North Africa. He was later in command of the German forces opposing the Allied cross-channel invasion at Normandy. He is thought by many to have been the most skilled commander of desert warfare in World War II.

Rommel's military successes earned the respect not only of his troops and Adolf Hitler, but also that of his enemy Commonwealth troops in the North African Campaign (Afrikafeldzug). Following the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa, and whilst commanding the defence of Occupied France. The Allies considered him so great a threat that two failed assassination attempts were made.

The possible role that Rommel played in the German resistance and the 20 July plot is unclear. Regardless, he was implicated by participants, and took his own life when given the choice.

After the war, possibly related to the attempts to make every aspect of National Socialist Germany negative, Rommel's reputation has been attacked in various ways, with attacks made on his relationship to National Socialism, his military abilities, and his chivalry and his character in general.

Leftist Wikipedia has an entire article dedicated to attacking the supposed "Rommel myth".

Commands (excerpt)

  • Platoon Leader in the 4th Battery of the 49th Field Artillery Regiment, Ulm (1 March 1914)
    • At the same time, attached to the 19th Field Artillery Regiment (1st Thuringian), Erfurt (1 March to 31 July 1914)
  • Bataillons-Adjutant/Infanterie-Regiment „König Wilhelm I.“ (6. Württembergisches) Nr. 124 (3 September 1914)
  • 9. Kompanie/Infanterie-Regiment „König Wilhelm I.“ (6. Württembergisches) Nr. 124
  • 2. Kompanie/Württembergisches Gebirgsbataillon (WGB)
  • Württembergische Sicherheitskompanie (SK) Nr. 32 in Friedrichshafen (14 March 1919)
  • Company Leader in the Württembergisches Schützenregiment Nr. 25 (25 June 1919)
  • III. (Jäger-)Bataillon/Infanterie-Regiment 17 (1933–1935)
  • 7th Panzer Division (15 February 1940)
  • Commander of the German troops in Libya (15 February 1941)
  • Commanding General of the German Africa Corps or Deutsches Afrikakorps (21 Februay 1941)
    • "In the evening, the Führer decided that the troop unit deployed in Libya must from now on be called the 'German Afrika Korps'." (Kriegstagebuch, DAK, 21 February 1941)
  • Panzer Army Africa (1941–1942)
  • Army Group Africa (22/23 February 1943)
  • Army Group B (15 July 1943)



  • First Battle of the Argonne (1915)
  • Masivul Lesului and Oituz campaigns (1916–1917)
  • Battle of Caporetto (1917)

World War II

  • Poland campaign
  • Battle of France
    • Battle of Arras (1940)
    • Siege of Lille (1940)
  • North African campaign (Afrikafeldzug)
    • Operation Sonnenblume (1941)
    • Siege of Tobruk (1941)
    • Operation Brevity (1941)
    • Operation Battleaxe (1941)
    • Operation Crusader (1941)
    • Battle of Gazala (1942)
    • Battle of Bir Hakeim (1942)
    • First Battle of El Alamein (1942)
    • Battle of Alam Halfa (1942)
    • Second Battle of El Alamein (1942)
    • Battle of El Agheila (1942)
    • Battle of the Kasserine Pass (1943)
    • Battle of Medenine (1943)
  • Battle of Normandy (1944)


On 14 October 1944, Generalfeldmarschall Rommel died. The exact cause is not proven, although historically it is believed he committed suicide. That same day, Joseph Goebbels announced Rommel had died of a heart attack while recovering from his battle wounds. Hitler ordered national mourning and a state funeral (Staatsbegräbnis) for Rommel. On 18 October 1944, the state funeral took place at the Rathaus of Ulm. Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt represented Hitler and delivered the eulogy. Rommel’s body was cremated and the ashes interred in the honour cemetery in Heerlingen.


He was the third of five children to Professor Johannes Erwin Rommel (1852/54–1913) and his wife (∞ 1886) Helene Wilhelmine, née von Luz (1862–1940), whose father, Karl von Luz, headed the local government council. As a young man, Rommel's father had been an artillery lieutenant. Rommel had one older sister, Helene (1887–1973), who was an art teacher (Waldorfschule Stuttgart) and his favourite sibling, one older brother named Erwin Karl Manfred (1888–1897) who died young, and two younger brothers, of whom one became a successful dentist and the other an opera singer. Erwin Rommel's father, Prof. Erwin Rommel, was already a secondary school teacher (Oberrealschullehrer), then Gymnasiallehrer and later a school rector (Schlleiter in Aalen).


On 27 November 1916, 1st Lieutenant Rommel married in Danzig his fiancée Lucie-Maria Mollin (1894–1971), daughter of teacher Joseph Mollin and his wife Franzisca Pauline Veronica, née von Malotka.


  • Gertrud Stemmer (1913–2000), daughter of Walburga Stemmer (1892–1928) from Weingarten, with whom Rommel had an affair
    • She grows up with her grandmother. Rommel, his wife and his sister Helene look after the girl, who is passed off as his niece.[4] She was later married Pan and had two children: Helga und Josef.
  • Professor Dr. h. c. mult. Manfred Erwin Rommel (1928–2013), German Luftwaffenhelfer in WWII, later politician belonging to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who served as mayor of Stuttgart from 1974 until 1996


Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1985-013-07, Erwin Rommel.jpg
Rommel with two Italian decorations.jpg
Erwin Rommel, death I.jpg
Erwin Rommel, death II.jpg
Erwin Rommel, death III.jpg
Erwin Rommel, death IV.jpg
  • 19.7.1910 Fahnenjunker (Officer Candidate)
  • 21.12.1910 (Fahnenjunker-)Gefreiter
  • 15.3.1911 (Fahnenjunker-)Unteroffizier[5]
  • 20.3.1911 Portepee-Fähnrich (Officer Cadet)
  • 27.1.1912 Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant) with Patent from 30.1.1910
  • 18.9.1915 Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant)
  • 18.10.1918 Hauptmann (Captain)
  • 1.4.1932 Major
  • 1.3.1935 Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) with rank seniority (RDA) from 1.1.1935
  • 1.8.1937 Oberst (Colonel)
  • 31.7.1939 Generalmajor with effect from 1.8.1939 and rank seniority (RDA) from 1.8.1939
    • 27.8.1939 (Tannenbergtag) received new rank seniority (RDA) from 1.6.1939
  • 9.2.1941 Generalleutnant without RDA with effect from 7.2.1941
    • 14.6.1941 received rank seniority (RDA) from 1.7.1941
  • 24.6.1941 General der Panzertruppe with effect from 1.7.1941 and rank seniority (RDA) from 1.7.1941
  • 24.1.1942 Generaloberst with effect from 30.1./1.2.1942 and rank seniority (RDA) from 30.1./1.2.1942
  • 22.6.1942 Generalfeldmarschall

Awards, decorations and honours

  • Iron Cross (1914)
    • 2nd Class on 30 September 1914[6]
    • 1st Class on 22 March 1915[6]
  • Württembergische Goldene Verdienstmedaille on 25 February 1915
  • Military Merit Order (Württemberg), Knight's Cross (WMV3/WM3) on 8 April 1915
    • On 25 February 1915, Rommel was already awarded the Württemberg Gold Military Merit Medal. However, upon award of the Knight’s Cross of the Württemberg Military Merit Order and in accordance with the Kingdom’s award regulations, he was no longer entitled to display the latter medal and it was stricken from his records.
  • Bavarian Military Merit Order, 4th Class with Swords (BMV4⚔/BM4⚔) on 23 September 1917
  • Friedrich Order, Knight 1st Class with Swords (WF3a⚔) on 16 November 1917
  • Military Merit Cross (Austria-Hungary), III. Class with War Decoration (ÖM3K)
  • Pour le Mérite on 10 December 1917 as Oberleutnant and Commander of a Battle Group of the Württemberg Mountain Battalion
    • Awarded in recognition of outstanding leadership and distinguished military planning and successful operations during the battle of Caporetto (12th Battle of the Isonzo). Between 24 October 1917, when the Württemberg Mountain Battalion led the attack on Colovrat Ridge, and December 1917, Oberleutnant Rommel’s unit captured 150 Italian officers, 9,000 soldiers along with 81 artillery pieces and numerous machineguns. During a night attack on 7-8 November 1917, Rommel led his troops successfully in capturing Clautana pass from the Italians. On 9 November 1917, he was responsible for the capture of a second pass. By 10 November 1917, Rommel had reached the Piave River and with only five companies of soldiers, crossed the river to pursue the retreating Italians. By the time Rommel and his troops had reached Longarone, they had captured 8,000 more Italian soldiers.
  • Wound Badge (Verwundetenabzeichen 1918) in Mattweiß (Silver) in 1918
    • September 1914: Wounded by a bullet in the left thigh at Varennes/hospitalized.
    • July 1915: Wounded in the shin by shrapnel.
    • 10 August 1917: Wounded by a bullet in the left arm/treated at the front and remained with the troops.
  • Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 with Swords
  • Sudetenland Medal with the Prague Castle Bar (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938 mit Spange „Prager Burg“)
  • Memel Medal
  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award (Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung), 4th to 1st Class (25-year Service C
  • Repetition Clasp 1939 to the Iron Cross 1914, 2nd and 1st Class
    • 2nd Class on 17 May 1940[6]
    • 1st Class on 21 May 1940[6]
  • Panzer Badge (Panzerkampfabzeichen des Heeres) in Silver in July 1940
  • Italian Medaglia d'Argento al Valor Militare (Silver Medal for Military Valour) on 22 April 1941
    • Rommel wrote to his wife that he heard that Mussolini had intended to award him the Italian Military Gold Bravery Medal (Medaglia d’Oro al Valore Militare) during his visit to Rome on 9 March 1943. Rommel mused that Mussolini “…held his hand, apparently annoyed by my ‘defeatist’ attitude.” Only two Germans, both Luftwaffe fighter pilots, were awarded the Italian Military Gold Bravery Medal: Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Marseille and Major Joachim Müncheberg.
  • Grand Officer of the Italian Military Order of Savoy on 15 January 1942
    • In The Rommel Papers, he notes receiving the Italian Military Silver Bravery Medal on 22 April 1941. The next day, Rommel wrote to his wife about receiving this medal and noted that he was supposed to soon be getting the Italian “Pour le Mérite.”
  • Grand Cross of the Colonial Order of the Star of Italy presented by Generale d’Armata Ettore Bastico on 28 April 1942[7]
  • Medal for the Italo-German campaign in Africa (Medaille für den italienisch-deutschen Feldzug in Afrika)
  • Mentioned twice in the Wehrmachtbericht (26 June 1942 and 10 September 1943)
  • Africa Cuff Band (Ärmelband „Afrika“)
  • Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds of the Luftwaffe (Gemeinsames Flugzeugführer- und Beobachterabzeichen in Gold mit Brillanten)
  • Romanian Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd and 2nd Class on 12 July 1944
  • Wound Badge in Gold on 7 August 1944 for his sixth wound received on 17 July 1944
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds
    • Knight's Cross on 27 May 1940 as Generalmajor and commander of the 7. Panzer-Division
    • 10th Oak Leaves on 20 March 1941 as Generalleutnant and commander of the 7. Panzer-Division
    • 6th Swords on 20 January 1942 as General der Panzertruppe and commander of the Panzergruppe Afrika
    • 6th Diamonds on 11 March 1943 as Generalfeldmarschall and commander in chief of the Heeresgruppe Afrika


  • Honorary citizen of Aalen on 14 June 1940
  • Sword of Honor of the Japanese National Association Shochoku Seishin Shinkokai
  • Erwin-Rommel-Straße in Aalen
    • announced in December 1955
    • the new street was completed in 1961
  • Generalfeldmarschall-Rommel-Kaserne (Augustdorf), Nordrhein-Westfalen on 20 July 1961
  • Generalfeldmarschall-Rommel-Kaserne (Osterode), Niedersachsen (until 2004)
  • Rommel-Kaserne (Dornstadt), Baden-Württemberg on 12 June 1965

External links


Further reading

  • Franz Thomas: Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945, Band 1: A–K (in German), Biblio-Verlag, Osnabrück 1998, ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6


  1. David Irving’s book says of Karl: “Brother Karl volunteered for the army—but only so as to avoid taking his final examinations. He became an army reconnaissance pilot, and his fine photographs of the Pyramids and the Suez Canal are in the family papers.”
  2. Desmond Young: Rommel, London / Wiesbaden 1950
  3. Did Rommel possess an Abitur?
  4. Dieter Zinke in GFM Erwin Rommel, 19 August 2012
  5. Mythos Rommel
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Thomas 1998, p. 226.
  7. GFM Erwin Rommel