October 14, 1944 was the day that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Der Wüstenfuchs (The Desert Fox), committed suicide instead of facing death by the hands of the SS for himself and his family. He was assured if he committed suicide his family would be left alone, if he did not they would likely have been executed along with him. I view his passing with mixed feelings. He was one of Germany's best commanders during WWII. Had he been in charge of the defenses of Germany, the war in Europe may have lasted longer. So it is with some satisfaction that I think of his death as one that probably saved allied lives.
Then again, one must realize that he was implicated in the attempted but failed assassination of Hitler that took place on July 20, 1944. Because of his having been implicated in the assassination attempt, and because it was obvious that Rommel had become disenchanted with Hitler's vision for Germany when he learned about the extermination of the Jews, witnessed the bombing damage in Germany, and realized that all was lost, Hitler was furious with him. A plan was devised to kill him off so that the people of Germany would not realize he had been killed by his own leader, but rather that he had died of wounds he had received when strafed by allied aircraft on July 17, 1944 (injuries from which he had not yet fully recovered by October 14 of that same year). He poisoned himself, and the people were informed that he had died in hospital as a result of the strafing wounds. He was given a state funeral as a hero.
Too bad the assassination attempt on Hitler was not successful, maybe Rommel and his alleged conspirators would have been seen as some sort of heroes in the eyes of the world; even if not, at least they would have rid the world of a monster before he could have done more evil. Certainly an interesting man for the war buff regardless of how, or why, he died as he was one heck of an outstanding commanding officer when it came to tank warfare. For more info on Rommel, see:
All the best,
Top. Men. Part II
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