Today in history marks the birth of Erwin Rommel, born in Heidenheim, Germany, a German commander popularly known as the Desert Fox for his craftiness in launching surprise attacks on the Allied forces in North Africa during World War II.
Born to a family of teachers, however, Rommel decided not to follow his family's profession and chose a military career for himself. In 1910, he was recruited into the German army as an officer cadet. While serving as a lieutenant in the First World War, he was decorated for bravery and recognized for his leadership skills. Instead of following the path, which other young officers took by settling for paper pushing positions, he chose to stay in the infantry as a frontline officer, teaching at different military academies and even publish a textbook on infantry strategy.
Following the breakout of the Second World War in 1939, Rommel was given the appointment to command the Seventh Panzer Division in the invasion to France. Having no prior knowledge of the armored warfare, Rommel was quick in grasping the potentials and advantages of the new machine, which helped him winning most of the battles in France between May and June 1940.
A year after his victory in France, Adolf Hitler chose him as the commander of the German divisions deployed to Libya to help the already defeated Italian army. On getting to Libya, it was obvious that the British commanders stationed in Libya were not up to his standard. By May, Rommel had won back most of the lost territory lost by the Italians to the Allied forces. This audacious style made the Allied forces tagged him the Desert Fox because he was good at manipulating and deceiving his enemies. This made Hitler to promote him to the rank of field marshal.
In March 1943, Rommel was summoned back to Europe to defend the invasion of northern France from Allied forces before the Axis forces eventually surrendered in North Africa. Unfortunately, on June 6, 1944, the Allied eventually gained a strong foothold at Normandy.
Back home in Germany, there have been rumors of a plot against Hitler among his generals who sensed that the Fuller was leading the country to destruction with his iron hand. This made the conspirators to approach Rommel and told him of their plan. He did agree to their plan, but made sure he had no active role in the planning of Hitler's assassination. In addition, it was rumored that after Hitler's death, Rommel will become Germany's head of state.
Rommel narrowly escape death when British a warplane attacked his car three days before the attempted coup, he was badly injured and admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, on July 20, Hitler manage to escape another bomb explosion, arrests were made and the plotters (after been tortured) confessed that Rommel was involved in the planning of the failed coup. Immediately, Hitler send two of his generals to arrest Rommel, who was still in the hospital recovering from the head injuries he sustained and offered him two choices, which was suicide or trial. Rommel decided to go for the first and on October 14, he poisoned himself. After his death, Rommel was buried with full military honors.
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