For justice to be done, it must be seen
Sign up to the newsletter

Outcry in Germany over homage to Rommel

1 minApproximate reading time

A senior official at Germany's defence ministry has sparked an uproar with a tweet commemorating the death of Erwin Rommel, a favourite general of Adolf Hitler who was later involved in a plot to kill the Fuehrer.

"Erwin Rommel, who was forced to commit suicide by the Nazis, died 74 years ago today," wrote Peter Tauber, a former close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, on Twitter.

The tweet unleashed an outcry on social media, with some condemning the conservative politician for rehabilitating the Nazi general while others defended Tauber saying Rommel's record was mixed.

Dubbed the "Desert Fox" for his tactical successes in the North Africa campaign, Rommel had been contacted in February 1944 by a group of officers plotting to kill Hitler.

But he was seriously wounded when a British plane strafed his car on July 17, and that ensured he did not participate directly in an attempt made on Hitler's life three days later.

Gestapo investigators nonetheless discovered his role but Hitler knew he could not execute the popular officer.

Instead, Rommel was ordered to commit suicide, which he did on October 14 before being buried following a national funeral.

Malte Mahlberg, who identified himself on Twitter as a Social Democrat student, wrote: "Rommel was a Nazi and killed people. Someone like him deserves neither a commemoration day nor a mention in a tweet by a politician of a democratic country."

Reacting with incredulity at Tauber's tweet, Petra Pau of the Left Party wrote: "Rommel participated in war crimes (to put it mildly), like so many others."

Other Twitter users, however, leapt to the defence of Tauber, with Twitter user Justin Laun writing that the "barracks where I am stationed is still called Rommel Barracks".

Defending his tweet, Tauber himself told Bild that Rommel had "repeatedly disregarded criminal orders" and was linked to the resistance against Hitler.

A debate about Rommel is important, "if we expect soldiers today to be responsible for the values of our country."

For Pau, however, Tauber's line stood in opposition to Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen's vow in 2017 for the armed forces to make a clean break with the Wehrmacht of the Third Reich.

She then ordered a review of the army's 1982 "decree on traditions" that allowed displaying Wehrmacht items within their "historical context", and said new names would have to be found for barracks still named after World War II figures, including Rommel.

Support Us
Across the world, access to justice and information is vital for societies to rebuild after periods of serious violence. This is why we are dedicated to offering a free website adhering to strict journalistic methods which is accessible to everyone in the developed and developing world. Justice Info is funded by donations. Each donation helps our journalists bring you independent information. A regular donation is ideal. We are also grateful for one-off donations.
Sign up to the newsletter