Hitler’s Field Marshall Rommel, ‘chivalrous’ or racist?


This video is about Adolf Hitler greeting Erwin Rommel.

From British daily The Independent:

‘Chivalrous’ Rommel wanted to bring Holocaust to Middle East

By Tony Paterson in Berlin

Published: 25 May 2007

Erwin Rommel’s reputation as one of Nazi Germany’s few chivalrous generals has been blackened by a new documentary film which depicts the legendary “Desert Fox” as an unscrupulous commander who spearheaded Hitler’s attempts to take the Holocaust to the Middle East.

Rommel, the head of the German Afrika Korps who won fame for his initial successes against the British in North Africa in 1942, was widely respected during and after the Second World War.

Churchill once referred to him in parliament as a “great general”.

Defeated by General Bernard Montgomery‘s “Desert Rats” at the battle of El Alamein in Egypt the same year, Field Marshal Rommel once claimed that his military campaign against the British was a chivalrous affair and the nearest thing to “war without hate”.

However, a new two-part documentary series being broadcast on Germany’s ZDF television channel provides evidence that Rommel played a key role in the Nazis’ drive to invade Palestine and exterminate the Jews of the Middle East.

The historian Jörg Müllner, who made the film Rommel’s War with co-author Jean-Christoph Caron, yesterday dismissed as a “myth” the notion that Rommel fought a clean war in the desert.

“With his victories, he was simply preparing the way for the Nazi extermination machine,” he added. …

The documentary shows how, a month after Rommel’s defeat of the British at Tobruk in June 1942, the Nazi SS followed Hitler’s order to “destroy Jewry in the Arab World” by setting up a special “Sonderkommando” extermination unit to follow in the Afrika Korps’ wake.

The unit was headed by Walther Rauff, an SS commander notorious for his role in inventing mobile gas chambers.

Rauff and his SS men were empowered to carry out “executive measures on the civilian population” – the Nazi euphemism for mass murder and enslavement.

The Nazi attempt to capture the oil fields of the Middle East and exterminate the region’s Jewish population were brought to an abrupt halt by the British 8th Army‘s defeat of Rommel’s Afrika Korps at El Alamein in October 1942

Rommel was forced to withdraw the remnants of his army to Tunisia, where it sustained a bridgehead until May 1943, enabling Rauff’s SS to conduct a well-organised persecution campaign against the country’s Jews.

More than 2,500 Tunisian Jews died in a network of SS slave labour camps before the Germans withdrew.

Rauff’s men also stole silver, jewels and religious artefacts from the Tunisian Jews.

Forty-three kilograms of gold were taken from the Jewish community on the island of Djerba alone.

The gold and jewels were taken by the Germans as they withdrew and were later thrown into the sea off Corsica. Divers are still searching for “Rommel’s Treasure“.

The documentary makers argue that the role Rommel played in supporting the Nazis’ plans to export the Holocaust to the Middle East was largely forgotten after the war because of the field marshal’s later alleged involvement in the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler.

The Nazis responded by arresting Rommel and leaving him the choice of facing trial and certain execution or committing suicide. He chose the latter.

Post-war Germany capitalised on the notion of Rommel as a chivalrous Nazi commander.

However records show that he ordered his non-white prisoners to be fed less than whites and that he ordered unarmed black prisoners to be needlessly shot during the making of a Nazi propaganda film in 1940.

In 1970, the Germany navy named a destroyer after him.

SS officer Walther Rauff later went to Chile, helping the Pinochet dictatorship.

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50 thoughts on “Hitler’s Field Marshall Rommel, ‘chivalrous’ or racist?

  1. Those lies about Rommel disgust me. He actively objected to Hitler’s horrific plans. He even refused a direct order from Hitler to execute his Jewish Prisoners. He DIED because of his part in a plot against Hitler. So before you start posting slanderous articles, perhaps you should do so research on whether they’re true or not.

  2. Dear Mr Liberg, you are much stronger in indignation than in evidence to back up your points. Please go to the German TV ZDF site … [UPDATE June 2010: the ZDF site information is gone. For the documentary, see here and here.]

    Or read the historical work by Jörg Müllner and Jean-Christoph Caron. Or by Ralf Georg Reuth.

  3. I’ve read numerous books on Rommel and although he was adamantly apolitical, atrocities by thge SS were being committed behind every German front. Rommel, despite popular opinion did not participate nor condone the assassination of Hitler. He was fingered by a Col. Holfacker because of a meeting set-up by General Speidel (his chief of staff). Holfacker fingered both Kluge and Rommel and protected Speidel, the true plotter. Rommel did, however, plan to discuss peace terms with Montgomerey as his only crime against the Reich.

    There’s no evidence that I’ve ever seen linking Rommel to SS activities. Any revisionist historical documentary would need to stretch far and wide to prove that. In fact, he warned his son not get involved in any SS unit due to what he believed were unseemly activities by them. Rommel was obviously aware of some of what was going on, but never a part of it.

    Now, before we condemn the Germans for methodically killing Jews, lets not forget the Allied extermination of German and Japanese cities. Look up Dresden or Tokyo bombing and the numbers of civilian men, women and children killed. The numbers are staggering. Look up the total German population killed during World War II. Germany lost 7 million military and civilian casualties. China suffered 16 million civilian deaths. Japan lost roughly half a million civilians to U.S. bombs. There were no good guys. There were only bad guys, including the good ole USA.

    So, if Rommel knew of what the SS may have been doing behind him, what’s the difference. Roosevelt and Churchill knew they were killing children. It was war on the grandest scale possible. There were no safe people. The only difference between the Germans and the Allies is they were killing people in different and more creative ways. They weren’t just dropping bombs on them.

  4. Hi Mr Bricky, as for “Holfacker”, you probably mean Caesar von Hofacker; see here.

    With “Montgomerey” you probably mean Bernard Montgomery.

    Please, read and see the work about Rommel by Jörg Müllner and Jean-Christoph Caron; and Ralf Georg Reuth, before dismissing it out of hand.

    While strongly opposing the US nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I must take strong exception to your suggestion that Hitler’s nazi regime was not much worse than other participants in the second world war. There was no equivalent to the extermination of Jews and Roma. Indeed, Germany suffered many casualties; however, Hitler had started the war. Indeed, China suffered many more casualties; the Japanese militarists had attacked them. Worst of all was the suffering of Poland and the Soviet Union. Over 20 million Soviet people lost their lives to the nazis, who basically saw not just Jews and Roma, but also Slavs, people from the Asian Soviet republics, etc., as “racially inferior”.

  5. If Rommel about to be condemned as racist or something like that just because the SS following after his africa corps advance, then we shold also condemned other german generals…because those generals – military professionals – always followed by SS killing units after their advances, whether they like it or not…

  6. Hi pvblivs: the issue is not “Rommel about to be condemned as racist or something like that just because the SS following after his africa corps advance”. Rommel also ordered non white prisoners of war to get less rations (in fact, starvation rations) than white prisoners of war. Rommel was a favourite general of Goebbels and Hitler. The issue of SS and Wehrmacht is also not black and white; as there were also many war crimes with Wehrmacht officers involved. There has been an exhibition on this in Germany, Verbrechen der Wehrmacht. See also this German Wikipedia article.

  7. تعتبر شخصية رومل من اهم الشخصيات الالمانية من حيث الايمان بالله والمبدء والفكرة والحدس والعقلية الممنهجة بطريقة علمية.تحية احترام لكل عائلته وندعو الله ان يرحمه ويهديه هو وكامل الامة الالمانية والعالم باسره.وشكرا

  8. Hi Mr Lahtonen, it seems that you are trying to reduce the unique crimes of the nazi regime to those of “other bad people” in general. Has it ever occurred to you that if you murder someone, and then your neighbour or someone ten kilometers away also commits some crime, that does not detract in any way from the murder committed by you?

    Technically, Rommel may have been a ‘good’ general. However, that does not say anything about his moral or political sides. I note that you do not disprove the German TV documentary in any way, and that you just make a snide remark without any evidence to back that up.

  9. By no means I’m not trying to say that the Nazi regimes crimes were in anyway acceptable. I’m just pointing out that in World War 2(and in war in general) there were no ‘good guys’. All sides did bad things, some(the nazis in this case) did worse things.

    Regarding Rommel and the TV documentary, I’d like to see some hard concrete evidence behind these accusations. I’ve actually seen the documentary and it was nothing more than la-di-dah posh bollocks with as much credibility as the WMD’s in Iraq. The people provided little to no actual evidence of Rommel’s alledged cruelties and inhumane actions. Now consider that against the much larger amount of evidence confirming Rommel’s humane side.

    The documentary much concentrated on the effects Rommel’s North African campaign had, not the man himself. I dare to assume that Rommel didn’t have that much control over the Waffen SS unit operating there. Like every other theatre of battle the nazis were fighting in, the Waffen SS came after to ‘clean’ what was left behind the frontlines.

    Rommel was fighting his own war in North Africa, the Waffen SS their own. The documentary just had to find some way to blame Rommel about this. I mean, the man is a legend. A documentary that would tarnish his name would definitely be of interest to any WW2 enthusiast(myself for one) and other people.

  10. Hi J. Lahtonen,’Rommel was fighting his own war in North Africa, the Waffen SS their own.’ True in a limited sense; however, they both were part of Hitler’s regime’s war.

    A reason that Rommel became such a legend is that the British generals he fought against were not that good, so the Rommel myth also suited British propaganda, not just Goebbels’.

  11. That’s true about the british generals. But it’s also undeniably true that Rommel was one of the best desert warfare commanders in World War 2. His tactics were original and they worked. The decoy tanks, diversionary attacks, etc. The Afrika Korps would’ve probably succeeded in taking over North Africa for good if it wasn’t for their limited size. Just like in Soviet Union, supply lines got stretched and there wasn’t even that much supplies to go around. He fought the best he could with what was given to him.

  12. What a bunch of rubbish.What a shame it is that there are so many idiots out there that know nothing about the second world war,but want to make up all of these nonsensical stories.In the first place it was the Italians who attacked the British there,not the Germans.After the British hit the Italians back and pushed them all the way to El Agheila did Hitler send German troops to aid Mussolini.The war in N. Africa was his idea not Hitler’s.The troops he sent there to help Mussolini were going to be needed for his campaign against Russia.Since Italy was Germany’s ally and England her enemy is it so hard to imagine Hitler wanting to help his ally out while hitting back at his enemy?The Afrika Korps was a token force sent there to do that job and nothing more.All this talk is crap that makes no sense if you understand anything about the war.Rommel’s genius was in the fact he could take a small under strength force and make it appear to be stronger than it really was.To say he was put there just to exterminate the Jews there is just more Zionist rewriting of history.They seem to want everyone to believe that WW II was all about them.Every German had to have been a killer and everyone a war criminal.Yes 6 million Jews died in WW II.Germany lost 7 million. Russia 25 million.In all over 58 million people died in WW II.Why is it always about the 6 all the time?

  13. Hi michael, Mussolini joined the war against Britain because Hitler wanted him to do so. There were quite some Italian government people who would have prefered to remain neutral.

    You seem to suspect there is a Zionist under every bed. The new historical views on Rommel are the views of German historians, not of Zionists. Of course they did not say that exterminating Jews was the only aim of the Afrikakorps; that is a straw man argument. The six million Jews were civilians, victims of an industrial massacre. The German dead were soldiers, sent to their death by Hitler, and civilians who died in Hitler’s war of aggression. So, there is clearly a difference.

  14. I understand that this new information is coming from sources in Germany.You know the first Jews to be victimized by the Nazi’s were German Jews. The point being,countries are made up of different people.I have traveled to Germany 8 times and I know they have a huge population that is communist.It makes no difference were this information is coming from.What matters is who it’s coming from.And you are wrong about Mussolini.He had wanted to create a new Roman empire around the Mediterranean sea.He wanted to expand his empire just like Hitler did, but I hardly think that Hitler was looking for his lebensraum in N.Africa.And excuse me for suspecting a Zionist under every bed.Lately there has been a lot of revisionist thinking which has made its way into the news media and my concern is with the truth being told and not sensationalized stories about a deceased person who can’t defend himself against these accusations.Rommel was a great military commander.No,he was no humanitarian by any means.His occupation was killing.But then so isn’t every other military person from every other country?And by the way Rommel never joined the Nazi party,which speaks a great deal about his character.

  15. Hi michael, to suspect a Zionist. or a communist for that matter, under every bed, is rather paranoid. And if you cannot criticize people like Rommel, or Julius Caesar for that matter, who are dead, then history becomes impossible.

  16. Well, I do question most of the traditional literature on Rommel, considering him a sort of saint, because, as I wrote earlier, on the German side that was based on Goebbels’ propaganda; and on the Allied side on the fact that their own commanders were not that good. So, making Rommel into a sort of superman took attention away from that. Plus German rearmement and integration into NATO in the 1950s made those two propaganda lines come together.

  17. Ok..
    Who ever said Rommel was involved in the fucking holocaust
    needs to be shot

    He was one of the best man is WWII
    HE WASNT A FUCKING NAZI
    He hated the SS
    he hated Real Nazis
    He hated Propiganda
    when Hitler ordered him to kill jewish soldiers and prisoners he would refuse
    he shared his rations with the prisoners of war so they could survive
    when he did find out about what was happening to the jews he confronted Hitler

    OH AND ALSO.
    He wasnt in the plot
    He was blamed for being in it
    but he never was,
    he was confronted about it
    but he told them Killing Hitler would cause a mutany.
    and it would be better to make Hitler step down.

    ok..
    he was never racist,
    at all
    he had nothing to do with the
    holocaust
    or nazis
    or SS
    or the plot.

    he fought only for his country
    what he did for his whole life
    you relised that Hitler didnt care about his soldiers
    hitler “If the Germans cant win the war.. they can rot”
    Ok Hitler said that to Rommel
    Rommel hated fuckin hitler.

    who ever says that shit needs to read some boooks over him
    and talk to his son.

    who ever says he was involved with the jewish extermination
    Can be shot in the fucking face.

    he was a real gentleman..
    the last knight in Germany
    the last real man on earth.

  18. Hi Kyra Fritz, if you want to shoot historians, then you will get an anti science dictatorship. You give as your URL the non existent My Space address derfuhrerkyrafritz. Well, like the earlier Führer, you seem to be somewhat … err … emotionally unbalanced. Fortunately, unlikely that earlier Führer, you don’t have the power to have people shot.

  19. القائد رومل رمز كبير للعالم كله ومدرسة فى الأستراتيجية العسكرية والساسية ايضا – هذا الرجل رحل عنا منذ اكثر من 100 عام ومازلنا نتذكر اسمه لأنه بالفعل غير الكثير من الحروب والصراعات وكان قائدا مثاليا فى كل شئ – فخر للألمان وفخر للعالم كله ان تجد هذا الرجل او هذا القائد اليوم مثيل له فى بلدك او فى تاريخك – وهذا لا يقلل شئ عن التاريخ العربى والأسلامى الكبير الذى نعرفه جميعا جيدا

  20. I hate the “early Fuehrer” In fact I would kick his ass if I met him back then..
    You can’t be suprised I would freak on this.. they did offend my hero.
    Im not mentally imballanced I just was pissed looking back it makes me laugh.
    all well cant fix every idiot in the world.

    also the DerFuhrerKyraFritz is just a joke.. If I ever was a “Führer” I’d be to lazy to do shit nor do
    I ever want to be in control of a country or someone.. tssk.

  21. Rommel was never a racist general. He is a professional man who doesn’t know the atrocities committed by Hitler and he even suggested to appoint a jew as a minister further he forbid his son to join the SS, saying the SS has blood in its hands.

  22. Hi Matthew, in your short comment you make many allegations without proving them. For instance, what Jew did Rommel propose to be minister under Hitler? And what Jew in the world would like to be minister in the nazi regime?

  23. What a load of bull, these “SonderKommandos” were deployed almost everywhere during 1942 Russian front as well as the African Theatre. These units weren’t operating on orders of the local commanders but they answered to the main SS HQ. As for the shooting of black prisoners, I don’t know anything about it but I never heard of any black prisoners either.

  24. I am currently researching Rommel for an historical novel and have found very few sources which point to him as anything but a “chivalrous” commander(insofar as one can be chivalrous in war). I am intensely curious about the sources used in the documentary, but haven’t made any progress in finding them: the ZDF web page says that the documentary site is no longer online, so any help is appreciated.

    I have several misgivings about the news article. Aside from this new film, it doesn’t say that there are any other sources which agree with Mueller and Caron’s findings. I would have thought that the writer could have found someone other then the documentary-makers to interview. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from a newspaper? My largest concern is the language (“the role Rommel played in supporting the Nazis’ plans to export the Holocaust to the Middle East” &c.) it argues that Rommel “wanted” the Holocaust to occur, i.e. that he was an active proponent of anti-Semitism, whereas most of the published material I have read states the opposite, e.g. Fraser, Young, Bayerlein. Yet the evidence in the article only states that the Holocaust was allowed to occur in North Africa as a secondary result of the German presence, i.e. that Rommel was never actually involved in ordering his army to commit such war crimes. In fact, the article states that Sonderkommando were specifically sent there to imprison the Jews, which contrasts with the Eastern Front situation where it is now accepted (e.g. Böhler) that Heer/Wehrmacht units actively assisted in the Holocaust.

    Which records “show that he ordered his non-white prisoners to be fed less than whites?” Young states that he interviewed (postwar) a South African officer who wanted his white men to be given better treatment than the blacks and Rommel refused it (I cannot remember the interviewee’s name offhand to check this, I seem to remember that v. Luck and Westphal confirm it). As for “he ordered unarmed black prisoners to be needlessly shot during the making of a Nazi propaganda film in 1940,” it is true that Rommel directed parts of “Sieg im Westen,” and that some captured black POWs were asked to re-enact their surrender (Rommel, Fraser), I have yet to read any accounts of people actually being fatally shot during its production.

    Your point that “A reason that Rommel became such a legend is that the British generals he fought against were not that good, so the Rommel myth also suited British propaganda, not just Goebbels’” is very true. But if that is true, then surely one must also look at the political and social climate in which this documentary has been made? If a German in WWII did not actively oppose the Holocaust, they can no longer be labelled “good” or “moral” in the German press. (Take the post-unification documentary “Hitler’s Warriors” for example, or the recent exhibit “Mythos Rommel” in Stuttgart, since I cannot cite conversations with other students when I studied in Germany.) As a result, Rommel cannot be seen in a morally positive way, so anything which casts doubt on his image is certain to come to light!

    Sources:
    Bayerlein, Fritz: From US Army interviews of Generalleutnant Fritz Bayerlein during post-war captivity: material returned to library and I no longer have citation details.
    Böhler, Jochen (2006), “Auftakt zum Vernichtungskrieg”
    Fraser, David (1994), “Knight’s Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.”
    Luck, Hans von (1991), “Panzer commander” [Admittedly memoirs are not the best sources, but Luck was sensibly critical of Rommel, so there would be minimal reason for him to omit any negative points. By "sensibly" I mean without obvious bias, unlike Halder.]
    Rommel, Erwin et al. (1950), “Krieg Ohne Hass”
    Young, Desmond (1950), “Rommel”

  25. Re #31: Ralf Georg Reuth: Rommel. Das Ende einer Legende. Piper Verlag, München 2004.
    ISBN-10 3492046746
    ISBN-13 9783492046749.

    Jean-Christoph Caron and Jörg Müllner: documentary film Rommels Krieg: here.
    Documentary Rommels Schatz: here.

    About “the political and social climate in which this documentary has been made”: this documentary contradicts the establishment version of history, which depicts Rommel as a hero. At least three barracks of the present German armed forces are named after Rommel, not just the warship named in the “Independent” article.

  26. hi, Im really surprised, that you found some Rommel´s order, which said, that his non-white prisoners to be fed less than whites and that he ordered unarmed black prisoners to be needlessly shot during the making of a Nazi propaganda film in 1940. Can you give me the source?book, or website? I read several books about him, but this is big news for me.
    Thanks for your answer.

  27. I’ve read Reuth’s book. I don’t recall him ever stating that Rommel ordered non-whites to be fed less than whites. I have, however, come across an actual order signed by Rommel 6/21/1942 which rejected segregating Allied officers’ requests to segregate Allied POWS because “the black South Africans fought with and wore the same uniforms and that is why they also share the same prison.” [Wunsch im namen des O.B. mit Hinweis abgeleht, dass Neger südafrikanische Soldaten sind, die gleiche Uniform tragen, gemeinsam mit den Weissen gekämpft hätten und deshalb auch gemeinsam gefangen seien.]

    I am curious why it is you are quick to dismiss the older literature of Rommel as problematic bc/ it suited various contemporary needs of German and British societies but are so quick to embrace recent German literature as being trustworthy which also conforms to a strong trend in Germany that has existed since the cohort born in the 1940s has so vociferously denounced their parents and grandparents as knowledgeable and acquiescent to the Third Reich’s crimes.

    You demand proof that Rommel forbid his son to join the SS and what Jewish minister Rommel suggested appointing – qualities which reflect Rommel’s positive image – yet do not demand proof when it comes to Rommel starving black prisoners. What is interesting is that you tout Reuth’s book yet it is in that very book which details the anecdote which Rommel suggested appointing a Jewish Gauleiter.

    I do understand the argument that it is problematic to lionize someone who willingly fought for Hitler. My guess is that you would encounter less resistance and more sympathy to that argument by not apply double standards when it comes to truth.

  28. Re #35: the point about non-white prisoners getting less food is from Jörg Müllner and Jean-Christoph Caron, not from Reuth.

    The point about separate prisons for white and black South Africans is not the same point. As you quoted, Rommel rejected separate prisons not as a personal decision, but “im namen des O.B.”, in the name of the supreme command, that is Adolf Hitler and Hitler’s General Keitel (convicted for war crimes in Nuremberg). Very probably, neither Hitler nor Keitel nor Rommel rejected separate prisons out of principed anti-racism, but because it would make things more complex in military prisons, would cost more money, might make escapes easier, etc.

    There is a big difference between pro-Rommel tendencies in the German (and British) establishment; and the criticism of younger German generations against pro-nazi tendencies among older generations. The former was and is linked to state/other establishment power from above; while the latter, being grassroots, from below, is not.

    By the way, there is never just one tendency in Germany (or elsewhere). Lately, people like Thilo Sarrazin are rehabilitating racism and racial pseudo-science. Very worrying.

  29. I think your response is just proving my point.

    It seems unacceptable to you that Rommel could have flaunted National Socialist ideology and the flag he fought for by disregarding ALLIED requests to segregate POWs. Instead you suggest such a measure must have been based on practical grounds because segregating prisoners would drain more resources.

    Since when has the Third Reich leadership taken practical and economic consideration in mind when dealing with racial enemies? The Third Reich was first and foremost a racial state and racial matter took absolute priority. This is best describes in Burleigh and Wippermann’s The Racial State. Your speculations should conform to the contours of the Third Reich’s leadership and modus operandi, not contradict it. You should know that Hitler and the Third Reich leadership did in fact give Rommel an order regarding what do to with certain prisoners:

    “Der Führer hat angeordnet, dass gegen diese mit äusserster Schärfe vorzugehen ist. Sie sind daher im Kampf schonungslos zu erledigen. Wo das nicht geschehen ist, sind sie nachträglich auf Befehl des nächsten deutschen Offiziers sofort und öhne weiteres zu erschiessen, soweit sie nicht vorübergehend zur Gewinnung von Nachrichten zeitweilig zurückbehalten werden sollen.”

    “Relentlessly executed…without further ado shot” What purely practical motivational will you ascribe to Rommel that will explain why he threw this order in the trash? I wouldn’t use troop morale and time considerations – German commanders on the Eastern Front had no such concerns as they consistently and vigorously prosecuted such orders.

    What I quoted was written by Rommel’s Chief of Staff (Commanders typically only sign orders, they don’t write them), so “im namen des O.B.” meant Erwin Rommel. Of course it meant Rommel; I wouldn’t quote something about Hitler or Keitel in a Rommel discussion!

    You think that because a movement is grass roots in nature, that in itself makes it trustworthy? Interesting…

    You are aware that the Mallmann and Cüppers article deals with the aspirations of the Third Reich’s leadership to work with anti-British and anti-Semetic elements in the Middle East to expand the Final Solution and does NOT say or even suggest what the misleading Independent’s headline claims, namely that Rommel *WANTED* to bring Holocaust to Middle East. But since it’s ok to slander and libel Hitler-era Germans, you won’t call the paper on what is clearly irresponsible journalism.

    And to counter the historical record that Rommel, who we are discussing, refused to entertain the racist requests of Allied POWs, which has been documented, you counter with the recollection of a South African who remembers being slipped extra rations by fellow South Africans serving in the Afrika Korps. That is…astonishing.

    I don’t know why it is necessary or comforting to see history is such black and white terms. It is a disservice to the discipline to apply loose standards of truth so as to twist the facts and make history conform to our ideology: namely, since the Third Reich was vile, repugnant, and evil, then all those who fought for it must also be vile, repugnant, and evil. What a shallow mindset. Has it ever occurred to you that it wold be more interesting, fruitful, and accurate to seek to understand why what was an ordinarily decent man in Rommel devoted the last 5 years of his life to fighting for a vile, repugnant, and evil regime rather than insisting the square peg that was Rommel must fit the round hole of National Socialism?

  30. Also I cited Reuth’s book because in your #34 which answered Lenka’s query about non-white’s being fed less you gave him Reuth’s Ende einer Legende and a Speigel article which, not-surprisingly, does NOT say Rommel ordered non-whites to be fed less or ordered unarmed blacks to be needlessly shot.

    Blacks were needlessly shot during the production of Sieg im Westen. The National Socialist regime did things like that. You are aware that Rommel was not listed as the director, producer, screenwriter, etc., correct? In fact Rommel wrote his wife and complained about the lack of interest the filmmakers showed in his ideas about the film.

  31. “Since when has the Third Reich leadership taken practical and economic consideration in mind when dealing with racial enemies?”

    At least since they occupied the Netherlands in May 1940 and kept the Dutch Economic Affairs Secretary General, Hans Max Hirschfeld, in his job till the end of the occupation in 1945. Hirschfeld was of Jewish ancestry; however, he was also willing to integrate the Dutch economy into nazi Germany’s war economy, opposed Dutch resistance and strikes, etc.

    Another example of primacy of being “practical” over raving idiocy in nazi Germany can been seen in the history of camp Westerbork. This was the camp from where Jews were deported from the Netherlands to annihilation in Auschwitz and other camps.

    At first, Westerbork was commanded by SS officers who ill-treated the prisoners etc. Soon, in 1942, these people were dismissed. They were replaced by SS-Obersturmführer Albert Konrad Gemmeker. Gemmeker immediately stopped the beatings etc. of Jewish prisoners. He allowed them to have sports, music, etc.

    What effect had the “decency” of SS-Obersturmführer Albert Konrad Gemmeker on Westerbork camp? Few prisoners tried to escape. There were no uprisings. When ordered to board the cattle trains to annihiliation in the east, most prisoners obeyed, lulling themselves into sleep that the situation in Auschwitz etc. might be as “decent” as under SS-Obersturmführer Albert Konrad Gemmeker.

    So, the “decency” of SS-Obersturmführer Albert Konrad Gemmeker, considered as an individual in isolation, was really part of an extremely “indecent” system of mass murder. Gemmeker’s “decency” made the system WORSE than if he personally would have been “indecent”. If the beating, screaming predecessors of SS-Obersturmführer Albert Konrad Gemmeker would have been kept in charge of Westerbork by the Third Reich authorities, quite possibly more Jews from the Netherlands might have survived Hitler’s Endlösung than did in practice survive.

    Now, with Gemmeker in charge till the liberation of the camp in April 1945, over a hundred thousand Jews from the Netherlands died. The overwhelming majority.

    “Ordinarily decent man” Gemmeker’s role in the Third Reich is at least somewhat similar to that of “ordinarily decent man” Rommel.

    My source was not about “fellow South Africans serving in the Afrika Korps.” It was about Germans who before the Second World War, and, probably, before and/or during the First World War, had spent some time in South West Africa; now Namibia (not part of South Africa). (Hermann Goering was the son of a German governor of South West Africa).

    “You think that because a movement is grass roots in nature, that in itself makes it trustworthy?” No, of course not; one cannot say that as a general rule. Though maybe, in principle more trustworthy than establishment views, linked to a post-war West German state with its judiciary, Bundeswehr officer corps, and boardrooms of big corporations full of people with nazi pasts. So, in the concrete case of criticism in Germany of not doing enough against that situation, THAT grass roots movement definitely was and is more “trustworthy” than those whitewashing the nazi past. Or trying to revive it, like Thilo Sarrazin etc. do.

    Only recently in Germany, there has been movement toward rehabilitating the deserters from Hitler’s Wehrmacht. They were the real heroes of Germany during 1939-1945. Not people like Rommel. However, I still have not seen the Bundeswehr naming its barracks after Wehrmacht deserters.

  32. You could have also pointed to the numerous people of Jewish ancestry who actually fought for the Third Reich in the Wehrmacht. Or General Vlassov’s division of Soviet dissidents. Does that make it correct to claim the National Socialist Regime could be considered practical when it came to racial matters? How practical was the regime when it came to “Jewish science” and building an atomic bomb? How practical was the regime in reinforcing and supplying its reeling armies on the Eastern front while it devoted countless resources, finite transport, and precious manpower to killing racial enemies? Is Vlassov really representative of Nazi policy which killed 2/3 of all Soviet POWs? You are so keen on finding a purely practical reason that Hitler or Keitel would possibly refuse to entertain Allied requests to segregate their prisoners, you are willing to falsely portray a regime as practical and won’t acknowledge the actual order which was signed by Rommel.

    SS-Obersturmführer Albert Konrad Gemmeke is not an example of practicality as he did not break any National Socialist policy which stipulated Jewish prisoners were to be brutalized by SS guards. As for speculation how many would have escaped or otherwise survived had if he not run his camp decently, you can’t be serious. It’s not exactly like there were many from Treblinka or Bełżec. Watch Night and Fog sometime and see the pathetic manner in which the Jews help the German train conductors close the cattle cars; those prisoners meekly obeyed for reasons that have nothing to do with being treated decently.

    “Germans who before the Second World War, and, probably, before and/or during the First World War” = fellow South African. These people had obvious similar social, ethnic, and geographic ties as well as racial beliefs. And you still miss the main point. Just because a white South African got extra rations, it does *not* mean that blacks were deprived of rations or that Rommel had ordered or even acquiesced to a segregationist policy. You do understand that it was common for Commonwealth prisoners to be given cigarettes, chocolates, etc., by the Afrika Korps? Once again you seem to willingly ignore the big picture – the Afrika Korps on the whole treated its prisoners, even Jews, decently – to seize upon an incident where a white was given extra rations as proof that the Rommel mistreated blacks.

    So because a grass roots movement coincides with your political beliefs it “definitely” makes it more trustworthy? I see… This is no doubt the root of our disagreement – I am unwillingly to deem pundits, commentators, special interest groups, etc., who have an obvious political agenda as inherently trustworthy whereas you are. I am unwilling to lower standards of truth simply because I ostensibly am sympathetic to a viewpoint.

    What exactly is a “real” hero? Real to who? You? Deserters are heroes…that’s interesting. You do know that had Rommel not been severely wounded on 17/7/44, he was planning to allow the US and British armies to walk into Germany virtually unopposed and, in effect, commit mass desertion for Army Group B. Maybe being a deserter in itself does not make one a “real” hero?

    And if you think the Bundeswehr or any army would name a barracks after a deserter, you know absolutely nothing about army psychology. Why don’t you ask some people who wear a military uniform whether or not a deserter is a “real” hero?

  33. Naming a barracks after a deserter very probably is not according to “army psychology”. Especially not of top brass. Speaking about “people who wear a military uniform”, very probably many enlisted people would not be as opposed to the idea as most generals.

    However, the discussion is not about deserters from just any army, but specifically about deserters from Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht. An army guilty of very many war crimes. As documented, eg, in the exhibition in Germany “Verbrechen der Wehrmacht” (an exhibition furiously attacked by neo-nazis).

    There is a more important question than whether naming a barracks after a deserter from the Wehrmacht is according to “army psychology”. The question whether the lessons of Hitler’s second world war have been learnt.

    Naming a barracks after a deserter from Hitler’s Wehrmacht would indicate the Bundeswehr’s intention to break totally with the Wehrmacht, and older German militarism, traditions. However, the atrocities by the Bundeswehr in Kunduz, Afghanistan, unfortunately point into another direction.

  34. Pingback: Conflict on German Rommel film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  36. Rommel, the greatest man of WWII. A true hero. All i wanna say is that.

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