Chivalry isn’t dead. How can it be, when Men, who have always paved way for celebration of this grand virtue statistically outnumber women on earth? Yet for sheer cowardice or duplicitous acts committed either for greed or other reasons- men have maligned the spirit of what it means to be chivalrous.
The Germans, in particular have had a potent connection with what it means to be Chivalrous and daring. Deeply committed toward initiating amazing discoveries and impressively sharp minded, the Deutscher’s have commanded worldwide respect given their ability to strike with ecstatic discoveries plunging deep into an abyss of problems and mazes. Never the land grabbers in the modern age unlike the upsetting colonial mindsets who unleashed havoc in the past, the German character is emblazoned with ingenuity in self-discovery whilst illuminating sparks of an understated pride and a certain lack of verbose expression of whatever they accomplish, whosoever they come in contact with and whatever mission they embark upon to surprise their naysayers with .
Peter Watson’s famous quote,” they (Germans) delve deeper and emerge muddier” augurs well for this solid argument.
Yet, despite their magnanimous character and accomplishments in many diverse pursuits, sterling and thought shaping, such as shaping Philosophical thought, developing lasting architectural marvels, attaining checkered prowess toward military warfare and a fragrance that smells of intoxicating intellect as emanating from their literary successes, Germany’s character has often been undermined by many astute thinkers from around the world. They are for the sheer massive envelope of their accomplishments, the giant that Hercules would refuse to fight with.
But, despite a checkered marquee of all encompassing triumphs defined by vivid emblematic anecdotes the Germans once occupied a dark place in History. It is a blithe that off-sets their very spirit, jading it to the core even today, as it stands tall besieged by the scatter of Europe’s economic rambling.
To this day there remains an overpowering sense of guilt that has remained with Deutschlannd given its unexpected entanglement with atrocities committed at the height of its powers during World War II. Fought from 1939 to 1945, splitting the world’s greatest powers on two sides of the warring spectrum, Germany went down fighting as the leader of the Axis power clan against the Allied powers (USA, Britain, France, Russia and Japan) in what was its most damaging and bloodiest rout, both self-exerted and inflicted onto European civilians for a period marked by grimace, tragedy and enraged destruction.
This was the greatest reminder to the World and in particular to Europe in entirety- that there existed a phase in its History, when Germany was marked by a total loss of chivalry. Under the bigoted leadership of Adolf Hitler, the then National Socialist German Worker’s Party, should one say, worst (instead of better) known as the Nazi Party, the Germans in absolute awe and amazement of a single man’s flawed idea of protecting and saving the wounded “Fatherland” from the misery brought on by the horrific defeat of World War I (remember the Treaty of Versailles) came to commit such grave crimes against humanity akin to seeing or imagining nasty Hollywood fables that are scripted with blood and appalling murder in mind.
Eliminating statistically over 6 million of Europe’s Jewry, comprising of civilians, businessmen, merchants, writers, hippies, homosexuals, gypsies and those rendered as “good for nothing”- Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime literally put to use a “whitener” over existence of harmless everyday Jewish people, who were both gassed, murdered, tortured and above all- subjected to gory crimes committed at the behest of saving Germany from the hubris of its supposed No.1 enemy. The truth however couldn’t have been further from this baseless fictitious thought that hinged so sheepishly over the mind of one of the world’s most cruel dictators that it spared none from committing the ultimate cruelty- thus damaging Germany’s otherwise spotless national character and stooping the gladiator nation to remorseful lows.
Joining Hitler and offering him support with aplomb to further the interests of the regime (circa 1939, when the grotesque Austrian came to power) were men of slimy and opportunist character. By virtue of their unprecedented support toward Hitler’s murderous regime that saw construction and operational overload of concentration camps across Europe, including Auschwitz(Poland), Dachau(Germany), Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor and many symbols of Nazi terror where innocent Jews were exterminated- these heinous men rebuked the essence and values associated with chivalry and bravery. Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann, Paulus, Bormann, Goering and many coterie of evil doers sent millions of lives to their fatal end and thus brought upon the German image- stains that have thus colored the fabric of their otherwise glorious character.
Yet, not all who were associated with Adolf Hitler were Nazis. You better not hail everyone to be in the same league. Whilst hundreds and thousands of Hitler’s elite SS men were butchering hapless lives around and subverting everything hailed pious and manly in an evil and unmanly regime- there was once a man called Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel.
A General who marshaled his troops bravely in the sandy battlegrounds of Africa as magnificently well as amidst the wartime heat of a Europe bloodied by gruesome attacks. A man of supreme character and integrity who offered support and warmth to the captured soldiers from his enemy camps. A reluctant author. A doting father. A committed family man. Protector of the principles and integrity of the German Fatherland. A tireless soldier on vigil for the Weimar Republic. A Handsome Swabian. A compassionate soul swept inside the body of a man eventually victimized by the very regime that had promised to save Germany. Rommel was a man you didn’t meet every day. Rommel is a man who has not been forgotten, even 7 decades after his death.
Today, on the 124th Birth Anniversary of the quintessential German soldier who put integrity and character in front of awe-inspiring battleground principles What’s Up Life pays homage to the Germany’s greatest Field Marshal ever. We remember the glorious and bittersweet life of Erwin Rommel.
Why is Rommel so significant?
In the tyranny of war where men often reduced their manliness whilst resorting to unbecoming and vile means of fetching victory to their respective nations, Erwin Rommel (1891 to 1944) was a master tactician of combat warfare who fought with class, integrity and decorum as one would expect from a top class soldier.
The supreme commander of the famous 7th Panzer divison, Rommel clinched famous victories under the desert heat of the punishing African sun ever since he was handpicked by none other than Hitler himself to lead “Africacorps” in a grueling North African campaign for territorial supremacy from January 1941- mid 1943. Fighting against dangerous opponents, notably, Britain’s Bernard Montgomery, a top notch military commander and Rommel’s arch rival, the German fought with ecstatic charisma even against the likes of elder Statesman from England, Sir Winston Churchill, several years Montgomery’s senior who was later joined by, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the then General of United States’ Africa campaign.
Where there is blood, there has to be a reason to fight but, Rommel was driven by a sense of urgency to fight back for Germany’s honor and pride, instead of being drawn toward mindless and inhuman shabbiness as inflicted upon hopeless lives by the tyrant Nazi regime. One of the central heroic figures of the German attack on Poland, which factually opened the Second World War, Rommel commanded with a dash style and panache Hitler’s troupes in their sudden attack toward capturing Warsaw. He was central to Germany’s successful plans of destroying enemy munitions, communication lines, and above all- total defense preparedness.
Greater glories were in the offing for Erwin Rommel who would soon be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal, having entered the German Army only in 1910.
The Charisma and intellect of the brave German
For over two decades, ever since the end of the First World War (1914-18) Germany had been looking for a father figure, someone who could resurrect hope and pride for a nation that had lost all – wounded by massive economic crisis, disharmonized by widespread public disarray and a battered national spirit since the gargantuan asks of the Treaty of Versailles, as placed post World War I came to demand from it massive wartime damages.
Serving Germany from 1911 to 1943, Erwin Rommel stood tall on the ruins of grief that Hitler wrought upon the German people who were both blinded and madly captivated by false promises of building a regime that would design and craft Germany’s superior ascension in the future. Not many would have known that the Third Reich that had harbored huge dreams to rule over an entire world and not just Germany for a thousand years, would collapse under 12 years and become a ridiculous pile of dust.
Therefore, Erwin Rommel’s rise as one of the finest and bravest of Germany’s military master tacticians as a man who competed with supreme fairness gave the only offer of hope and reassurance of respect to the average German had sought from Hitler whose army of lunatics- a promise of Germany’s greatness.
Born on November 15th, 1891 in Heidenheim (Herrlingen), Germany, Erwin Rommel was the fourth son to a family of modest economic make-up. Father, a disciplinarian school master and mother, a grounded woman, Rommel would become the only entrant of the family into German Armed forces. By the age of 20, he passed out from the Officer Cadet School in Danzig and was assigned his first army duties when he was posted as a Lieutenant in 1912 at the 124th infantry at Weingarten. This was soon followed by an important posting at Ulm, a major town in Germany, where Rommel was placed in command of the 4th Battery of the 46th Field Artillery Regiment.
Rommel is perhaps one of the only few Germans who served in both World Wars having sort of mastered the tactics of attacks and defense in “trench warfare” during important postings at France, Belgium and Italy. Post World War I, Rommel penned an important literary piece, titled “Infantry Attacks” recording his vivid memoirs of the battles fought during WWI. The book was read by a certain Adolf Hitler who asked to meet the young charismatic tactician who was awarded the Iron Cross for his daring feats in the war of epic proportions. It is rumored that once post an important infantry advance at the Argonnes forest, Rommel, despite sustaining a flesh wound attacked not one but two French soldiers with bare hands.
In 1943, after winning the faith of Hitler who wanted an experienced and knowledgeable war exponent to fight the challenging turf war at North Africa, Rommel was chosen to lead the 7th Panzer Divison, which for his exemplary and daring leadership came to be known as “Ghost Divison”.
The Triumph of the Desert Fox
Name one battle in the arduous North Africa Campaign where Rommel didn’t literally seize up his opponents before downsizing them mentally to the size of a hapless minion! Field Marshal Rommel fought an extensive 3 year campaign under the intense scrutiny of a harsh African sun plundering brave armored attacks against the heat of the Moroccan, Tunisian, Lebanese, Egyptian deserts.
Rommel braved many test of nerves whilst championing great battles where he commanded his own men and even supported beleaguered Italian troupes at the orders of Hitler, Rommel waged massive retributions that are still hailed as legendary and taught across the world’s top military schools, marked by the clever intelligence, guile and extraordinary daring of the brave German nationalist.
The First Axis Offensive, the Siege of Tobruk, the Operation Crusader and the nasty battle of El Alamein, Rommel marched on despite being significantly low on both military supplies and intelligence pivots. His daring onslaughts where he guided the famous 7th Panzer Divison toward many surprising attacks on its arch enemies earned him the moniker, “The Desert Fox”. In fact, such was his fear and respect especially in the English camp that Montgomery placed a picture of Rommel inside his private tent-camp. He admitted it reminded him of Rommel’s exuberance and guile and that he was motivated to defeat him. He did manage that, but not before Rommel triumphed waging what often were lonely single handed battles mystified by his charm and daring.
Churchill declared in the House of Commons, “Nothing matters but defeating him. We have a daring enemy against us and may I dare say, across the havoc of war a damn gifted General”. Soon outnumbered by troops and ammunition, Rommel lost at North Africa but not before earning respect from the English and rushed back to Germany. He then put all his energies toward fortifying the Atlantic Wall, in the face of strengthening Germany’s defense against the resounding onslaught of the Allies that eventually landed at Normandy and thus smashed the German defense.
Plot against Hitler
To this day History experts have struggled to entail the length of Rommel’s involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Whether he was even aware of the plot to eliminate Hitler is itself a theory unfounded.
Around 1943, back in Germany and visibly appalled at the regimes’ tyrannical treatment of its enemies, in particular the condition of the concentration camps inmates, Rommel’s resentment to Hitler and his Nazi elites grew massively. This coincided perfectly with the jealousies and hatred of his arch rivals who despised his closeness with the Fuhrer.
Something somewhere was about to happen that would both –change the course of history and of Rommel’s own life. On 20th July, a plot to bomb Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair, as concocted by a band of underground anti- Nazi German nationalists, lead valiantly by Claus Von Stauffengerg and Major Olbricht failed. Some top ranking Nazis revealed to Hitler’s inner circle Rommel’s connection to the attempt on the Fuhrer’s life as a mark of their venomous rebuke toward the Hitler-Rommel partnership, which was basically nothing more than stinking insecurities of those who couldn’t earn the trust and position that Rommel commanded from Hitler.
While there was no denying the fact that the compassionate Rommel had often turned a blind eye to Hilter’s barbaric asks of crushing captured Jewish soldiers, his own contempt to the Fuhrer’s policies didn’t exactly help this time around.
Reduced to a literal house arrest back at home in Herrlingen on Hitler’s orders, on October the 14th, Rommel was greeted by two Nazi Generals who offered him the final choice. He had to choose between taking his own life (consuming a cyanide pill) or undergo Court Martial and to see his family go to Nazi death Camps. Ever the patriot and committed man, Rommel bravely opted for the first, seeing his family through the dark encirclement of Hitler’s barbarism.
And thus, Rommel, the master commander of Germany’s hopes of looming large in World War II was no more. He perished within seconds of consuming the cyanide pill as he was marshaled by Generals: Bergdorf and Maisel in a Mercedes Benz outside his house at Herrlingen. The very regime that had lauded on Rommel lavish praise for his entire military journey, decorating him with Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Diamonds took his life. In the end, one of Germany’s greatest war-lord was downed by the tyranny of a mindless regime whose principles were as brutal and venomous as was Rommel’s love for his Fatherland.
At his funeral, unsurprisingly the largest wreath that decked Hitler’s favorite General’s casket was Adolf Hitler’s who never quite listend to Rommel’s advice of putting an end to the mindless carnage that Germany was extolling upon its own soul. There is little surprise that Erwin Rommel had often been chided by Hitler who would be advised by his evening star to strike out peace with the Allies.
If you visit Herrlingen, Erwin Rommel’s final resting place- there stands amidst the hubris of massive and maniacal destruction- a grave that brings to the ears sounds of silence, echoing of honorable triumphs and valor of a man that was unarguably Germany’s greatest Knight. There never was, there can never be a man of such pristine guile and exemplary character as Field Marshal Rommel.