Daily Archives: October 14, 2012

The Murder of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

It was 68 years ago in Ulm Germany that a car pulled up to the residence of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. In the car was the driver and two Generals dispatched by Hitler.  Rommel was recuperating following being severely wounded in an air attack in Normandy on July 17th 1944.

Rommel was never a Nazi but like many Germans he believed Hitler’s promises and propaganda. As a division commander in France and as the commander of the troops sent to bail out Mussolini’s failed African adventure Rommel gained fame, earned rapid promotion and was a poster-child for Goebels’ propaganda machine. His fame also earned the resentment of many fellow officers who since he was not an officer of the General Staff regarded him with jealous envy and distain.

That was until he discovered the reality of Hitler’s promises as the troops of the Afrika Corps found themselves subjected to constant privation from lack of supply, air support and reinforcements. As commander of the Afrika Corps and the Panzer Armee Arfika he and his troops achieved amazing success against an enemy that was always better supplied and equipped and which had air and sea superiority. Battling the British as well as the political machinations of Mussolini and Germany’s Italian Allies as well as opponents in the German government such as Hermann Goering, Rommel saw his troops crushed under the press of the British as well as the Americans who landed in French North Africa. Eventually, sick and worn out he was sent back to Germany.

His honest assessments of the chances of the Germans winning the war which he spoke candidly to Hitler and the High Command made him persona non grata in Berlin and Berchtesgaden. In the time before he was posted to France in late 1943 he became a part of the plot to end the war and overthrow Hitler. Rommel’s Chief of Staff at OB West General Hans Speidel was a key man in the conspiracy and Rommel had contacts with a number of key conspirators. He believed that the war was lost unless his forces could repel the coming Allied invasion on the beaches. His recommendations for the deployment of Panzer Divisions where they could immediately counterattack were not taken. He was given command but not control of many important units which Hitler alone could release.

When the invasion came Rommel was away and sped back to Normandy. He fought a desperate battle against an Allied force. His outnumbered forces under constant assault from the land, sea and air received paltry reinforcements compared to the Allies. German troops inflicted many local defeats and exacted a heavy price in allied blood in Normandy. Many American infantry regiments suffered 100% casualties but remained in action because of a continuous stream of replacements. Rommel urged a withdraw before the allies broke through his front and found that he was now considered a defeatist.

He was wounded just days before the attempt on Hitler’s life which Hitler survived and exacted a terrible revenge on anyone connected with the plot. Show trials and public hangings of officers who had served valiantly at the front were common.Thousands were killed and thousands more imprisoned.

Eventually Rommel was identified with the plotters. He was recommended by the “Court of Military Honor” to be expelled from the military and tried by the “People’s Court” of Judge Roland Freisler. Because of his fame and popularity in Germany Hitler was decided to offer Rommel the choice of being tried by the People’s Court that was busily executing anyone suspected of disloyalty or committing suicide and ensuring his family’s safety. German military heroes were hauled before this court and humiliated by Freisler before they were sent to their deaths.

Rommel suspected that he would be identified and killed and told that to his friends and family leading up to the day that the staff car carrying Generals Wilhelm Burgorf and Ernst Maisel from OKW with the ultimatum. They met with Rommel for a short time before giving him the opportunity to say goodbye to his family. Rommel told them of his choice and left his home for the last time. 15 minutes later the Generals called his wife to say that he had died of a heart attack. Rommel was given a state funeral and the German people were lied to about his cause of his death.

Rommel was 52 when he died, the same age that I am now. I find in the story of Rommel some commonality in my own life. Before Rommel went to Africa he believed that Germany would win the war, during his command there he discovered that what he believed was lies and that Hitler had little regard for him or his troops. Before I went to Iraq in 2007 I believed much of the political propaganda about that war. I have written on this site numerous articles critical of that war and our current war in Afghanistan. Like Rommel I feel that our troops have been and are being sacrificed in a war that we have no chance of winning. We are saddled with an Afghan ally who we put in office, President Karzai who makes Mussolini look like a winner and does nothing to help our war effort, condemning our troops at every opportunity even as his own police and soldiers kill ours. Our troops do valiant and often heroic work and in spite of the terrible situation that could get worse of more war breaks out in Iran or Syria.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, iraq,afghanistan, Military, Tour in Iraq, world war two in europe

The Omen: Jeter’s Injury Foretells the Future as Yankees Fall to 0-2 to Tigers in ALCS

Before the times of change, still is it so: 
By a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust 
Ensuing dangers; as by proof, we see 
The waters swell before a boisterous storm

William Shakespeare Richard III

Baseball people are tremendously superstitious. Sometimes events, miscues, injuries bad calls and bad luck are of more significance than they would be if they didn’t happen when they did. Cubs fans can attest to this as can the generations of Red Sox, White Sox and Giants fans who endured one shocking disappointment after another as they languished between World Series Championships.

Derek Jeter is the face of the Yankees. He has been a staple of the team and been their as they won championship after championship and his steady play and leadership have been a part of the great success enjoyed by the Yankees. He has played through injuries and never missed a post season game until tonight.

The Yankees may have become the latest team to see things slip away and legends pass. In the space of less than a day the New York Yankees went from looking like they would pull off another late game miracle thanks to the clutch hitting of Raul Ibanez to being down two games to none in the ALCS.

On Saturday the Detroit Tigers appeared to be sailing to an easy win when the Yankees got to closer Jose Valverde in the bottom of the 9th. Up 4-0 the Yankees scored 4 runs including a game tying 2 run home run by veteran Raul Ibanez who seems to have made hitting dramatic late game home runs a new habit.

But in the top of the 12th inning, as the Tigers rallied for what would be a winning lead, Derek Jeter, “The Captain” who had played in spite of injury for much of the past month broke his ankle on a freak play attempting to field a ground ball.

It was a devastating loss for the Yankees, not so much the game but Jeter’s injury. Jeter was one of the few Yankee regulars beside Ichiro Suzuki who have had any offensive punch during the post season. Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtiss Granderson and Robinson Cano have had nightmarish post-seasons.

The Tigers won game one 6-4 and shut out the Yankees 3-0 today to take the 2 game lead in the series. The Tigers were leading 1-0 in the 8th when they benefited from a blown call at second base when Nick Swisher threw behind Omar Infante who gone too far off the base. Cano applied the tag but Infante was called safe. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi argued the call twice and was thrown out of the game.

Girardi can shift blame to the umpires all that he wants but the fact is his team has not hit the ball during the post season with the exception of the 9th inning of game one against the Orioles. The Orioles had a bad call that negated a home run in game 5 of the Division Series against the Yankees that easily could have changed the course of the game, and may have help the Orioles win the series. To see Girardi complaining tonight in the post game interview was unbecoming, especially compared to Buck Showlater’s response to similar questions after game 5 of the ALDS against the Yankees.

Now the series moves on to Detroit and the Yankees will have to face Justin Verlander. Unless the high priced Yankees offense can get going and start getting hits and producing runs they will not play another game at home this year.  The Yankees were lucky to get through against the Orioles and unless something changes fast they will exit the post-season.

I think that this may actually point to greater problems next year for the Yankees. They are getting old and despite their seemingly unlimited ability to buy what they need on the free agent market are not the team that they used to be. They still have a lot of talent but something is not right in the team chemistry and Joe Girardi will have to figure that out in the next few games and after the season ends.

I think that Jeter’s injury and the Yankees struggles portend the changing of the guard in the AL East.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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