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Who was the desert fox?
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker: Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel (listen (helpⷩnfo)) (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was one of the most distinguished German field marshals of World War II. He was the commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps and also became known by the nickname ??The Desert Fox?? (W㼳tenfuchs, listen (helpⷩnfo)) for the skillful military campaigns he waged on behalf of the German Army in North Africa. He was later in command of the German forces opposing the Allied cross-channel invasion at Normandy.
Rommel's military successes earned the respect not only of his troops and Hitler, but also that of his enemy Commonwealth troops in the North African Campaign. Following the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa, and whilst commanding the defense of Occupied France, his fortunes changed when he was suspected (correctly or incorrectly) of involvement in a failed plot to kill Hitler in 1944.
He earned the name"desert fox" due to his secret operations in the Saharan desert.He led the ghost division which attacked the enemy completely secretly and took them by surprise..Panzer-Division was later nicknamed Gespenster-Divisionen (the "Ghost Division"), due to the speed and surprise it was consistently able to achieve, to the point that even the German High Command lost track of where it was. He also set the record for the longest thrust in one day by Panzers up to that point, covering nearly 200 miles.
Rommel received both applause and criticism for his tactics during the French campaign. Many, like General George Stumme, who had previously commanded 7th Panzer Division, were impressed with the speed and success of Rommel's drive, others were more reserved, some out of envy, others because they felt Rommel took needless risks. Hermann Hoth publicly expressed praise for Rommel's achievements, but he did have private reservations saying, in a confidential report, that Rommel should not be given command over a corps unless he gained "greater experience and a better sense of judgment." Hoth also accused Rommel of an unwillingness to acknowledge the contributions of others to his victories.
The Fourth Army's commander, General G㼮ther von Kluge, also criticised Rommel for falsely claiming all the glory for his achievements. Rommel did not, Kluge felt, acknowledge the contribution of the Luftwaffe, and Rommel's manuscript describing his campaign in France misrepresented the advances of neighbouring units to elevate the achievements of his own dazzling advances. Kluge also cited the complaint by General Hartlieb that Rommel had misappropriated the 5th Panzer's bridging tackle on 14 May after his own supplies had run out in order to cross the Meuse, delaying 5th Panzer Division for several hours. Rommel had repeated this procedure on 27 May at the Scarpe River crossing.
Rommel's reward for his success was to be promoted and appointed commander of the 5th Light Division (later reorganized and redesignated 21.Panzer-Division) and of the 15.Panzer-Division, which were sent to Libya in early 1941 to aid the hapless and demoralized Italian troops, forming the Deutsches Afrika Korps (listen (helpⷩnfo)) in February 1941. It was in Africa where Rommel achieved his greatest fame as a commander.
Rommel has been hailed as a brilliant tactician and competent strategist, but certainly not without flaws. Contemporaries who had to work with him under adversity often had very few kind words to say about him and his abilities. Following Paulus' return from his inspection of Rommel's doings in North Africa and also considering the reports submitted by Alfred Gause, Halder concluded: "Rommel's character defects make him very hard to get along with, but no one cares to come out in open opposition because of his brutality and the backing he has at top level". Others mentioned his leadership style, with expecting much of his commanders, and not being open to criticism or objections. He had little patience for sub-commanders who did not do their jobs properly. Only three weeks after assuming command of the 7th Panzer Division in February 1940 Rommel found a battalion commander performing sub-par, and had the man sacked and sent on his way in 90 minutes. This manner of management would certainly send a signal that he demanded the utmost of his men, but it was bound to create a feeling of resentment among some of his officers.
F.W. Von Mellenthin, who served on Rommel's staff during the Africa campaign, says Rommel took great chances on several occasions, gambling entire battles on decisions made almost on the spur of the moment and with incomplete information, citing Rommel's counterattack during Operation Crusader as just one such instance. Others who served under him in Africa, most notably General Fritz Bayerlein, said he took risks, but only after carefully weighing the potential dangers and rewards. Rommel himself was aware of his growing reputation as a gambler, and added careful notes in his papers explaining and defending his actions, especially concerning his decision to drive into Egypt during the 1942 Summer Offensive.
His leadership style was also admired and criticised, with aggressive sub-ordinates, like Hans von Luck, praising his leadership from the front, while others, like Mellenthin, question this leadership style, as it often led to his staff officers becoming involved in the fighting, instead of maintaining an overview of the situation. His sometimes long absences from HQ also meant that subordinates had to make decisions without consulting Rommel, leading to confusion.
In France, Rommel's aggressive drive through the French and British lines, disregarding the safety of his flanks and rear, succeeded to a remarkable degree. His aggressive attacks often caused larger enemy formations to simply surrender. His aggressiveness did cause resentment among fellow officers, however, who felt he at times acted too recklessly and failed to keep his commanders and colleague commanders properly informed of his intentions. He was also criticised for claiming too much of the glory himself, neglecting support from other elements of the Wehrmacht, and downplaying other units' achievements.
Rommel won many battles in Africa, both during 1941 and 1942, against British forces that always outnumbered him and had better supply lines, through aggressive attacks, but he never achieved a decisive victory, and his eagerness to drive for Egypt, despite not having the logistical "tail" to support it, meant that these drives were stopped, with great losses in men and materiel. Rommel perceived "unique opportunities" in capturing Egypt and perhaps the Middle East, a result which would definitely have had a huge impact on the Allies' capabilities of waging war, but his grand vision was never supported by Hitler, nor the General Staff in Berlin. During the siege of Tobruk, Rommel launched frequent attacks during the first month of the siege, and these were costly. The level of losses incurred caused Rommel to have several rows with his unit commanders, and also with the German High Command — indeed some sources indicate that Chief of Staff Halder had to send Friedrich Paulus to Africa to rein Rommel in, although Rommel himself maintained he had realized the futility of further attacks on the fortress on his own accord.
Rommel was in his lifetime extraordinarily well known, not only with the German people, but also with his adversaries. Popular stories of his chivalry and tactical prowess earned him the respect of many opponents: Claude Auchinleck, Winston Churchill, George S. Patton, and Bernard Montgomery, for example. Rommel, for his part, was complimentary towards and respectful of his foes. Hitler considered Rommel among his favorite generals.
The Afrika Korps was never accused of any war crimes, and Rommel himself referred to the fighting in North Africa as Krieg ohne Hass - war without hate. Numerous examples exist of Rommel's chivalry towards Allied POWs, such as his defiance of Hitler's infamous Commando Order, as well as his refusal to comply with an order from Hitler to execute Jewish POWs. When British Major Geoffrey Keyes was killed during a failed Commando raid to kill or capture Rommel behind German lines, Rommel ordered him buried with full military honors. Also, during the construction of the Atlantic Wall, Rommel directed that French workers were not to be used as slaves, but were to be paid for their labor.
Tempering this favorable view of Rommel are the facts that he did loyally serve Hitler and the Nazi government if not throughout his life at least until 1944, and that he never publicly disagreed with any Nazi actions or goals during his lifetime. There are several documented examples of racially prejudiced policies enacted under Rommel's command including his 1942 order that non-white Allied prisoners of war in Axis captivity be fed less (1,400 calories a day) than white prisoners' calories.
Rommel also told his illegitimate daughter Gertrud, when she asked his blessing to marry her Italian boyfriend, to make sure that he is an Aryan, that is non-Jewish under Nazi law. Following a conversation he held with a number of Swiss officers he wrote to his wife about "their amazing understanding to our Jewish problem".
His military colleagues would also play their part in perpetuating his legend. His former subordinate Kircheim though privately critical of Rommel's performance nonetheless explained: "thanks to propaganda, first by Goebbels, then by Montgomery, and finally, after he was poisoned (sic), by all former enemy powers, he has become a symbol of the best military traditions. ....Any public criticism of this legendary personality would damage the esteem in which the German soldier is held" (in a letter to Streich another former subordinate, one who came to loathe Rommel).
After the war, when Rommel's alleged involvement in the plot to kill Hitler became known, his stature was enhanced greatly among the former Allied nations. Rommel was often cited in Western sources as a general who, though a loyal German, was willing to stand up to the evil that was Hitler (however accurate or inaccurate this depiction may be). The release of the film The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) helped enhance his reputation as one of the most widely known and well-regarded leaders in the German Army. In 1970 a L㼴jens-class destroyer was named the FGS Rommel in his honor.