Rommel's reputation - deserved or political ploy?

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by brkeseel, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. brkeseel

    brkeseel New Member

    I've come across the suggestion that the reputation afforded Rommel by the British - as some sort of super-human figure - was an artificial construct, a political ploy. Basically an attempt to draw criticism away from the Eighth Army's rather bad performance in North Africa by emphasising Rommel's brilliance as a military commander, while simultaneously setting the stage for the media field-day that was Monty's victory at El Alamein - all the greater because it was Rommel he beat.

    My own tentative conclusion is that Rommel was an effective military commander - his reputation wasn't completely undeserved. But it certainly seems as though there was something else at play - there were other competent and charasmatic German military commanders scattered about; why latch onto Rommel with such fervour? Surely it wasn't simply that Churchill was being 'sporting'.

    It seems that Rommel was poster boy for both sides - not only for his own government's propoganda machine (drawing the German public's attention away from a Russian campaign that wasn't the cake-walk expected), but for his enemies as well. Where the British were concerned, it seems to have had a distinctly political lean to it.

    Does anybody know of any extensive scholarship to do with this debate? Like I said, I've found it mentioned in numerous places, but nothing of much substance. If you know of any books/articles (preferably peer-reviewed, scholarly sources), I would really like to know. In fact, anything written about the military/political dichotomy in the context of the British in North Africa during WW2 would be fantastic!

  2. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    In Italy, prior to the Allied landings at Salerno, Rommel's plan was to pull all German troops back to the Pisa-Rimini Line whilst Kesselring advocated forward defence as far south as possible. I would suggest that, given subsequent events, Kesselring got it right and Rommel got it wrong.

  3. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    There is a good assessment in the German (sort of) official history (Germany and the Second World War - I think it is is Vol.3). It is looking at the operational impact of Rommel ignoring his orders in March 1941 and seizing Cyrenaica and Marmarica, and it is not favourable.

    My view is that Rommel was shown a hole, and given a spade. He then enthusiastically jumped in and went about digging very energetically.

    All the best

    brkeseel likes this.
  4. spidge


  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  6. brkeseel

    brkeseel New Member

    Brilliant. Thanks very much for the suggestions :)
  7. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day's reputation.according to propaganda ww2.and desert vets.he was a fine leader.the britts held him in high esteem,his countrymen murdered him.he was a soldier.not a politician.interesting post.regards bernard85

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