Rommel, Erwin

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rommel, Erwin

Erwin Rommel (ĕr´vēn rôm´əl), 1891–1944, German field marshal. He entered the army in 1910 and rose slowly through the ranks. In 1939, Adolf Hitler made him a general. Rommel brilliantly commanded an armored division in the attack (1940) on France. In Feb., 1941, he took the specially trained tank corps, the Afrika Korps, into Libya. For his successes there he was made field marshal and earned the name "the desert fox." In 1942 he pressed almost to Alexandria, Egypt, but was stalled by fierce British resistance and lack of supplies. A British offensive overwhelmed (Oct.–Nov., 1942) the German forces at Alamein (see North Africa, campaigns in). Rommel was recalled to Germany before the Afrika Korps's final defeat. He was a commander in N France when the Allies invaded Normandy in June, 1944. Allied success led Rommel, who had lost his respect for Hitler, to agree to a plot to remove Hitler from office. Wounded in an air raid in July, he had just recovered when he was forced to take poison because of his part in the attempt on Hitler's life in July, 1944.

See his memoirs and correspondence of World War II, The Rommel Papers, ed. by B. H. Liddell Hart, 1953; biography by D. Young (1950, repr. 1969); studies by R. Lewin (1968, repr. 1972), C. Douglas-Hume (1973), and M. Kitchen (2009); P. Caddick-Adams, Monty and Rommel (2012).

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