Gott im Himmel!

#61
Whilst the thread subject matter has (inevitably!) drifted away from the issue I originally highlighted, as the OP, I’m pleased with the way it has now evolved into a debate on the cult of personality that has grown (since WW2) with regards to Rommel.
I confess I have never been an expert military historian and my own views and understanding of the man in question were limited to the well known assessment that he was a more than competent military leader and respected by allies and foes alike.
The way that Rommel has been held up as a true German military hero is a fascinating exercise in the application of Realpolitik of which Konrad Adenhauer was an absolute master.
There is even a definition to describe the Rommel phenomenon >> Rommel myth - Wikipedia

Back on track, I find it utterly astounding that a member of a history faculty in a leading British university had no idea of who Rommel really was.
Maybe now is the time for proper historians to give us a true assessment of FM Rommel warts and all.
 
#62
Maybe now is the time for proper historians to give us a true assessment of FM Rommel warts and all.

He's already been fairly exhaustively researched and warts-and-all assessments published. However, the myth generally overrides scholarship (particularly when the pre-eminent source of historical information for the general public happens to be Daily Mail book promotions!).
 
#63
He's already been fairly exhaustively researched and warts-and-all assessments published. However, the myth generally overrides scholarship (particularly when the pre-eminent source of historical information for the general public happens to be Daily Mail book promotions!).
Yes you are right, but the Myth still pervades to this day.
What I neglected to say was that maybe Exeter University History Faculty might wish to try to resurrect their appallingly bad research into Rommel's quote by sponsoring a new in depth history of the man using actual facts rather than rehashing the accepted inaccuracies that still persist. Maybe the faculty member who used the quote might be given some 'words of advice' regarding basic history undergraduate practices like doing some actual research and using references etc.
As for those getting steamed up about a historical quote from a historical figure, pfft and meh come to mind.
Regardless of Rommel's reputation (either true or myth) it is a good saying and deserves its rightful place in military history.
Napoleon was a bit of a git as well but sometimes he could be quite eloquent as we are all aware.
 
#64
He's already been fairly exhaustively researched and warts-and-all assessments published. However, the myth generally overrides scholarship (particularly when the pre-eminent source of historical information for the general public happens to be Daily Mail book promotions!).
PS;
I have just read the Mail article for the first time.

Jesus, that is bad, really bad.
 
#65
Back on track, I find it utterly astounding that a member of a history faculty in a leading British university had no idea of who Rommel really was
Utley is very careful to use the phrase 'staff member' without specifying who they are, what sort of position they occupy or which department they work in. That's usually a DM Combat Indicator for their knowing damned fine the facts would undermine a good old-fashioned 'England prevails'-type rant.

My bet would be on a junior clerical grade in a student support service and not an academic at all.
 
#66
#67
Utley is very careful to use the phrase 'staff member' without specifying who they are, what sort of position they occupy or which department they work in. That's usually a DM Combat Indicator for their knowing damned fine the facts would undermine a good old-fashioned 'England prevails'-type rant.

My bet would be on a junior clerical grade in a student support service and not an academic at all.
In which case, allowing a non academic to publish historical quotes on a history faculty letterhead might be seen to be a little clumsy to say the least.
Historians are notorious for their Gravitas and this episode does nothing for Exeter University's Gravitas within their history department.
 
#68
In which case allowing a non academic to publish historical quotes on a history faculty letterhead might be seen to be a little clumsy to say the least.
As would mistaking faculty letterhead for the routine sort of bulk email every university's student-facing service departments send out on a regular basis.

The BBC report shines a different light on it.

A spokesman for the University of Exeter said a career advice member of staff used the website Quotefancy to find a quotation for the "internal email" to students and staff
So not a member of the academic staff at all and not published on faculty anything. A junior grade in a support service, as I'd suspected.

It's not that I'm clairvoyant, I just find it more reliable to proceed on the assumption that the DM is shit-stirring.
 
#69
As would mistaking faculty letterhead for the routine sort of bulk email every university's student-facing service departments send out on a regular basis.

The BBC report shines a different light on it.
So not a member of the academic staff at all and not published on faculty anything. A junior grade in a support service, as I'd suspected.
It's not that I'm clairvoyant, I just find it more reliable to proceed on the assumption that the DM is shit-stirring.
Having now read the Mail article I am inclined to agree.
How ironic that the article ridicules Exeter for historical ineptitude then puts out an article like that as 'fact'.
It's a bit like the Grammar Nazi curse...
 
#70
No, obviously not always. But there's a reason why the Poles recently introduced a law making it a crime to suggest that they were complicit in crimes committed by the Nazis. And that reason would be that the current government doesn't want to be embarrassed by the fact that many Poles were complicit in crimes committed by the Nazis.
 
#71
It's very difficult for most of us to form an accurate view, because we didn't live through those times. We can look at it somewhat objectively 70 years later and say "that was good" or "that was wrong", but at the time, the views may well have been very different.

A couple of British examples. Wg Cdr Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for an operation that today would be a war crime. Dams are specifically protected from attack.

ACM Harris deliberately indiscriminately spanked the living shite out of German centers of population as a weapon of terror:

"The aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive ... should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany ... the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories."

He was completely unapologetic about it too.

"The feeling, such as there is, over Dresden, could be easily explained by any psychiatrist. It is connected with German bands and Dresden shepherdesses. Actually Dresden was a mass of munitions works, an intact government centre, and a key transportation point to the East. It is now none of these things."

I suspect that such a policy today would be universally condemned. That said, in several countries, nuclear forces stand ready to do exactly that. Including the UK, US, France, Russia, India and Pakistan, all of whom were on the winning side in WW2 (Pakistan as pre-partition India).

Rommel seems to have gained his reputation based on chivalry, in part. In terms of military success, his two big commands were command of the Afrika Korps and supervision of the Atlantikwall defence of the coast. Both of which were failures. The Afrika Korps had surrendered by mid 1943, and Overlord overcame the German defences.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#72
The quote makes sense, and who said it I really irrelevant.

However Rommel as a person used his undoubtedly considerable military skill to help try to plunge the whole world into a thousand-year Nazi night, and only turned against Hitler when he thought Hitler was messing that up and losing the war. Rommel's last job was building up the Atlantic wall and I have yet to read any adverse comment by him about this being done by working PoW slave labourers to death. The sanitising of this essentially evil man is a betrayal of how history ought to be written.
 
#75
Playing the 'What if?' game here's a thought:

Rommel survives the war and is put on trial at Nuremberg.

He is sent to Spandau for some years and after release writes books on the and his autobiography. Also goes round the nascent TV chat shows, helps with the production of 'The world at war'

Acknowledged but not necessarily admired, as the 'Good German general' who did his duty.

Then Gitta Sereny does a biography of him.

My bold... a bit like this chap then Albert Speer - Wikipedia
snip "He was a German architect who was, for most of World War II, Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production for Nazi Germany. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office. As "the Nazi who said sorry",https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Speer#cite_note-The_Nazi_Who_Said_Sorry-3 he accepted moral responsibility at the Nuremberg trials and in his memoirs for complicity in crimes of the Nazi regime, while insisting he had been ignorant of the Holocaust.
After the war, he was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the Nazi regime
Following his release in 1966, Speer published two bestselling autobiographical works, Inside the Third Reich and Spandau: The Secret Diaries, detailing his close personal relationship with Hitler, and providing readers and historians with a unique perspective on the workings of the Nazi regime. He wrote a third book, Infiltration, about the SS."
 
#76
It's very difficult for most of us to form an accurate view, because we didn't live through those times. We can look at it somewhat objectively 70 years later and say "that was good" or "that was wrong", but at the time, the views may well have been very different.

A couple of British examples. Wg Cdr Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for an operation that today would be a war crime. Dams are specifically protected from attack.

ACM Harris deliberately indiscriminately spanked the living shite out of German centers of population as a weapon of terror:

"The aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive ... should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany ... the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories."

He was completely unapologetic about it too.

"The feeling, such as there is, over Dresden, could be easily explained by any psychiatrist. It is connected with German bands and Dresden shepherdesses. Actually Dresden was a mass of munitions works, an intact government centre, and a key transportation point to the East. It is now none of these things."

I suspect that such a policy today would be universally condemned. That said, in several countries, nuclear forces stand ready to do exactly that. Including the UK, US, France, Russia, India and Pakistan, all of whom were on the winning side in WW2 (Pakistan as pre-partition India).

Rommel seems to have gained his reputation based on chivalry, in part. In terms of military success, his two big commands were command of the Afrika Korps and supervision of the Atlantikwall defence of the coast. Both of which were failures. The Afrika Korps had surrendered by mid 1943, and Overlord overcame the German defences.
The difference is Gibson and Harris were fighting because the Germans went into Poland and they took up arms against the invading force. Rommel on the hand was part of that invasion force that was a bit of a bastard towards minorities.
 
#77
Interesting short article about Rommel inuding
Whilst the thread subject matter has (inevitably!) drifted away from the issue I originally highlighted, I’m pleased with the way it has now evolved into a debate on the cult of personality that has grown (since WW2) with regards to Rommel.
I confess I have never been an expert military historian and my own views and understanding of the man in question were limited to the well known assessment that he was a more than competent military leader and respected by allies and foes alike.
A number of posts on here have caused me to revise my own views of the man somewhat and to read up on his back story. I have to agree with the view that he was clearly an opportunist who in the build up to and the early years of WW2 didn’t ‘push back’ against the prevailing National Socialist juggernaut and his change of heart from 1943 onwards was probably more to do with the fact the allies were winning the war, rather than an idealistic abhorrence of the Nazi regime.
It is pretty ironic that I posted the thread due to my annoyance at the perceived historical ignorance of a few academics at Exeter University, when in reality, I was equally ignorant! Mea Culpa! :smile:=-|
Fwiw, we are all ignorant to an extent. So much new information is coming out, even now, that there are always things to learn, or views to revise.
 
#78
It's very difficult for most of us to form an accurate view, because we didn't live through those times. We can look at it somewhat objectively 70 years later and say "that was good" or "that was wrong", but at the time, the views may well have been very different.

A couple of British examples. Wg Cdr Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for an operation that today would be a war crime. Dams are specifically protected from attack.

ACM Harris deliberately indiscriminately spanked the living shite out of German centers of population as a weapon of terror:

"The aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive ... should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany ... the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories."

He was completely unapologetic about it too.

"The feeling, such as there is, over Dresden, could be easily explained by any psychiatrist. It is connected with German bands and Dresden shepherdesses. Actually Dresden was a mass of munitions works, an intact government centre, and a key transportation point to the East. It is now none of these things."

I suspect that such a policy today would be universally condemned. That said, in several countries, nuclear forces stand ready to do exactly that. Including the UK, US, France, Russia, India and Pakistan, all of whom were on the winning side in WW2 (Pakistan as pre-partition India).

Rommel seems to have gained his reputation based on chivalry, in part. In terms of military success, his two big commands were command of the Afrika Korps and supervision of the Atlantikwall defence of the coast. Both of which were failures. The Afrika Korps had surrendered by mid 1943, and Overlord overcame the German defences.
The Germans started it.
 
#79
The difference is Gibson and Harris were fighting because the Germans went into Poland and they took up arms against the invading force. Rommel on the hand was part of that invasion force that was a bit of a bastard towards minorities.
Well, indeed. However the main thrust of my post was that viewing what took place back then through modern eyes is a path fraught with danger. Of course the extermination camps and so forth were a stain on humanity back then as they are today. But Harris and Gibson did what was thought to be necessary at the time, and are heroes, not criminals. Doing those same things today would result in their condemnation.

It might be argued that the harsh reparations and weak government of the Weimar Republic imposed at the Treaty of Versailles 10 years earlier created the very conditions necessary for the rise of German Nationalism in the 30s. Yet Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George did what they thought was right at the time.
 
#80
Interesting story here (in short, senior SS officer visits Rommel to discuss implementing final solution in North Africa. Rommel tells him to sod off). Der Spiegel reported, in 2007, that the SS bloke - Walter Rauff - visited Rommel but not that he was told 'no'. This information was confirmed by Rauff's, former assistant.
Rauff vs. the Yishuv
However, Jews in North Africa were mistreated by the Germans. This is from YadVashem.org:

'However, the fortunes of Tunisia’s Jews changed completely when Tunisia was invaded by the Germans as a response to “Operation Torch” on November 9, 1942. The Germans occupied Tunisia for six months, from November, 1942 through May, 1943. Though the German’s military policy was confused and disorganized during this time, their policy regarding the Jews was cohesive and consistent – they began to take action against the Jews of Tunisia as early as two weeks after their invasion. First, they arrested the leaders of the Jewish community. At the same time, they ordered 3,000 Jews to be forced to work on fortifications in northern Tunisia. The SS officer in charge of the persecution of the Jews was Colonel Walther Rauff[19]. Rauff demanded thousands of Jewish workers, and demanded as well that they wear a yellow star on their backs so that they could be identified from a distance and shot in the event they tried to escape[20].
Tunis, Tunisia, Rabbi Cheim Baleish (fifth from left), the Chief Rabbi of Tunisia with members of the Jewish council, 1942- 1943.
Immediately after Rauff’s decree, Jews were beaten in the streets at random, kidnapped and taken to deportation points, and synagogues were burglarized. Threats were made against the entire Jewish community. In the face of these violent incidents, the Jewish community decided to obey the Germans’ instructions. A special committee of Jewish leaders was elected, called the Comité de Recrutement de la Main-d’Oeuvre Juive, which, like the Judenrats in Europe, became a tool in the hands of the Germans. As they did in Europe, the Germans forced the Jewish community itself to supply them with forced laborers, as well as to feed the laborers and provide them with tools. The result was the same agonizing moral dilemma that was faced throughout Europe by the Judenrats: how could they make life or death decisions and choose the men to be sent to labor camps? Ultimately, almost 5,000 Jews, most of them from Tunis and from certain northern communities, were taken captive and incarcerated in 32 labor camps scattered throughout Tunisia. The biggest and most lethal of these were the camps in Bizerte and Mateur, where tens of Jewish prisoners died from disease, labor, punishment by the German guards and Allied bombings.
In parallel, Jewish property, including apartments and stores, was confiscated by the Germans, and fines of tens of thousands of francs were levied on large Jewish communities to punish them for being “part of the international Jewish conspiracy responsible for the Angloo-American attack against North Africa.”[21]'

Rommel was in Tunisia until early March 1943. It was apparently Kesselring who ordered Jewish men to work on defences. Would Rommel have known? Would he have cared? (he had a great many other things to concern himself with). There seems not to be a clear link between the man and the issue other than the 'he must have known' argument which confronts prominent Germans of WW2.

Edit: Rauff - who conceived the idea of the gas vans used in the Holocaust - was a successful fugitive from justice post-war. He worked variously for Syrian intelligence, the West German Secret Service, Israel(!), possibly Pinochet, and settled in South America:

Walter Rauff - Wikipedia
 
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