Rommel's Greatest Victory: The Desert Fox and the Fall of Tobruk, Spring 1942

Rommel's Greatest Victory: The Desert Fox and the Fall of Tobruk, Spring 1942

Rommel's Greatest Victory: The Desert Fox and the Fall of Tobruk, Spring 1942

Rommel's Greatest Victory: The Desert Fox and the Fall of Tobruk, Spring 1942

Synopsis

Erwin Rommel was already known to Allied servicemen as the Desert Fox before he launched his drive for Tobruk in the spring of 1942. Rommel's seizure of the port seriously threatened the Allied position in the Mediterranean region.

Excerpt

World War II began on 1 September 1939, when Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht (armed forces)--spearheaded by a handful of vaunted panzer divisions--invaded Poland. True to their treaty obligations, the British declared war on the Third Reich on 3 September, and the French followed suit a few hours later. As was the case in World War I, however, Italy found a pretext not to enter the war on the side of Germany. For the next nine months, Benito Mussolini and his Fascist cronies watched in fascination, horror, and envy as Hitler's legions smashed country after country. Poland was conquered in five weeks, Denmark in a few hours; every major city in Norway fell within two days, Luxembourg lasted less than a day, the Netherlands was overrun in six days, and Belgium surrendered within three weeks of being invaded by the Reich. The Nazi onslaught seemed invincible, and a new word was coined to describe it--blitzkrieg: German for lightning warfare. By the last days of May 1940, even the stubborn British Expeditionary Force had been smashed and was desperately trying to escape the European mainland before Hitler could finish it off, while the French Army--rated by the experts as the best in the world prior to 1939--had been decisively defeated in less than three weeks and was clearly on its last legs militarily. All of this was enough to convince the ambitious Mussolini--called Il Duce (the commander, the leader) by his followers--that Nazi Germany had already won World War II. On 26 May, he cornered two of his top generals, Marshal Pietro Badoglio, the Army chief of staff, and Air Marshal . . .

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