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MB_Avro_UK
08-21-2007, 02:33 PM
hi all,

The WW2 Campaign in the North African desert between British Empire forces and the German Afrika Corps has been referred to as 'A Gentleman's War'.

This link gives some background:

http://pasttense.nl/2005/10/23/the-war-without-hate/

Even today, the German General Erwin Rommel is regarded with respect and perhaps a degree of affection by British Empire veterans of that campaign.In fact, he is probably the most well known WW2 German General today in the UK.

The link mentions that at 17.00 hrs hostilities would cease and information about prisoners would be exchanged.

Rommel personally ensured that British prisoners were treated within the rules of the Geneva Convention. The uncle of a friend of mine was captured with his colleagues and they were amazed to be addressed by Rommel in person.

IL2 has opened my eyes to all fronts in WW2.

It's interesting to look behind the sim maps and aircraft in IL2 (superb as they are http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif) and look at the wider historical picture.

But, it was also a hard fought campaign.

Does anyone have more information on 'A Gentleman's War'?


Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

HuninMunin
08-21-2007, 03:47 PM
I once read an essay or text of some kind dealing with the fenomenon of this gentlemen war.
It concluded that it probably happened because of the absence of civilians.
It was a war fought without collateral damage, without 111s over London or Blenheims over Berlin.
Furthermore it was pure tornment for everyone involved on both sides.
The more extreme the condition, the more likely men tend to overcome national boundaries ( think of Monte Cassino).

Ob.Emann
08-21-2007, 04:07 PM
IIRC Erwin Rommel dubbed the African campaign "Krieg ohner Hass" (War without Hate).

SeaFireLIV
08-21-2007, 04:14 PM
Personally I don`t believe WWII was ever a Gentleman`s war it was total war, but Erwin rommel was one of those unique Generals who was good at what he did as well as honourable. He knew right and wrong, but just ended up on the side doing the wrong. However, he fought as a loyal German soldier and great General. yes, a gentleman.

perhaps fate could not allow such a good general to be present on D-Day as he may have feasibly pushed the Allies back off the beaches!

I was also sorry to hear of the disgusting way he was treated in the end after the attempt on Hitler`s life. Again, a good General on the wrong side.

joeap
08-21-2007, 04:17 PM
He he didn't prevent him killing stuff though (your sig).

Still if Cairo had fallen things might have been different. My grandparents were fearful of the men (as enemy aliens, Greeks) being seperated and sent to internment camps by the Axis. While Rommle and the Afrika Korps were an honourable bunch what would have happened to Jews for example? Just some thoughts that don't change the observations here, oh and there were bombing raids on Alexandria at least according to my Grandmother who gave birth to my aunt during one.

leitmotiv
08-21-2007, 04:32 PM
Churchill very cleverly made a superman out of Rommel as a means to explain how he incomprehensibly inflicted drubbings on superior Commonwealth forces. The truth of the matter was that British yeomanry tank units (as opposed to the RTC professionals) constantly expended themselves in charges (as did Wellington's cavalry---an onerous tradition), and British top level generalship was inferior except when Auchenleck personally intervened, or, later when Montgomery took over and finally brought the yeomanry tanks to heel. Had the Commonwealth fought the campaign with the leadership and units they had against the Italians in 1940-41, Rommel likely would have hit a brick wall, but those desert experts were thrown away in Greece and Crete, much to the benefit of the Axis. This was Churchill's folly. Wavell didn't want to send soldiers to Greece.

Well, the desert war was not known for atrocities, but Jews in Axis-controlled areas were sent to the killing areas in Poland. It was business as usual for them. Likely the sporting atmosphere was primarily due to absence of SS Waffens. Still, getting grilled in a tank or disemboweled by shrapnel from an air-burst 88mm round was certainly not gentlemanly.

MB_Avro_UK
08-21-2007, 04:32 PM
Originally posted by SeaFireLIV:
Personally I don`t believe WWII was ever a Gentleman`s war it was total war, but Erwin rommel was one of those unique Generals who was good at what he did as well as honourable. He knew right and wrong, but just ended up on the side doing the wrong. However, he fought as a loyal German soldier and great General. yes, a gentleman.


perhaps fate could not allow such a good general to be present on D-Day as he may have feasibly pushed the Allies back off the beaches!

I was also sorry to hear of the disgusting way he was treated in the end after the attempt on Hitler`s life. Again, a good General on the wrong side.

SeaFireLIV I agree with you that WW2 was total war. But occasions such as this are unusual.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Phil_K
08-21-2007, 04:36 PM
"With Rommel In The Desert" by Heinz Schmidt (who was one of Rommel's adjutants) gives the German side of the story. I think the German and British Empire soldiers had a genuine respect for each other. Of course there were exceptions and lapses on both sides.

I've read it was fairly common for German tank recovery teams (who operated at night) to give wounded British & Empire soldiers blankets and a drink if they found one in no man's land.

Also, when the British tried to organise German prisoners into working parties, if the Germans refused to work (which was usual) the British would respect that and let them march back to the camp.

joeap
08-21-2007, 04:38 PM
Good points leitmotiv, Rommel may have been good but I think is a bit overrated. Not sure he would have done as well in the real war being fought in Russia, one of those things to ponder eh? I also can agree with what Seafire said.

MB_Avro_UK
08-21-2007, 04:48 PM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
Churchill very cleverly made a superman out of Rommel as a means to explain how he incomprehensibly inflicted drubbings on superior Commonwealth forces. The truth of the matter was that British yeomanry tank units (as opposed to the RTC professionals) constantly expended themselves in charges (as did Wellington's cavalry---an onerous tradition), and British top level generalship was inferior except when Auchenleck personally intervened, or, later when Montgomery took over and finally brought the yeomanry tanks to heel. Had the Commonwealth fought the campaign with the leadership and units they had against the Italians in 1940-41, Rommel likely would have hit a brick wall, but those desert experts were thrown away in Greece and Crete, much to the benefit of the Axis. This was Churchill's folly. Wavell didn't want to send soldiers to Greece.

Well, the desert war was not known for atrocities, but Jews in Axis-controlled areas were sent to the killing areas in Poland. It was business as usual for them. Likely the sporting atmosphere was primarily due to absence of SS Waffens. Still, getting grilled in a tank or disemboweled by shrapnel from an air-burst 88mm round was certainly not gentlemanly.

Once again leitmotiv you have brought reality to a discussion http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

'The facts of history should not be entwined with the aspirations of the hopeful'.I am the first person to write this but I do not seek recognition or fame.. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

The comment earlier about no civilians being involved in the desert war is I think valid.

Taking British Empire troops from North Africa to Crete was another of Churchill's follies. This opened the door for Romell.

War is complex. But interesting.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

leitmotiv
08-21-2007, 04:53 PM
Supposedly a shell-shocked Maltilda driver was shown the monster 88 which had blown his tank to bits, and he remarked "It's bloody unsporting to use a huge gun like that."

leitmotiv
08-21-2007, 05:02 PM
Rommel was a huge risk-taker, and he was not at all shy about throwing away the lives of soldiers in his dicing. In spring 1941, when he hit an Australian brick wall at Tobruk, he kept throwing soldiers and tanks against the defenses where they got chewed up. A general protested at the squandering of good infantry without artillery support, and Rommel screamed at him like a madman. It took the final thumping Monty gave him at El Alamein in the fall of 1942 to bring him around, and he fought superbly in Normandy without waste.

Blutarski2004
08-21-2007, 05:16 PM
Originally posted by joeap:
He he didn't prevent him killing stuff though (your sig).

Still if Cairo had fallen things might have been different. My grandparents were fearful of the men (as enemy aliens, Greeks) being seperated and sent to internment camps by the Axis. While Rommle and the Afrika Korps were an honourable bunch what would have happened to Jews for example? Just some thoughts that don't change the observations here, oh and there were bombing raids on Alexandria at least according to my Grandmother who gave birth to my aunt during one.


..... Rommel pointedly refused to accept SS troops in N Africa. This doesn't take away from the fact that the campaign area was unusually devoid of large civilian populations and thus made the nature of their treatment moot, but it does hint at Rommel's mindset.

Blutarski2004
08-21-2007, 05:25 PM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
Rommel was a huge risk-taker, and he was not at all shy about throwing away the lives of soldiers in his dicing. In spring 1941, when he hit an Australian brick wall at Tobruk, he kept throwing soldiers and tanks against the defenses where they got chewed up. A general protested at the squandering of good infantry without artillery support, and Rommel screamed at him like a madman. It took the final thumping Monty gave him at El Alamein in the fall of 1942 to bring him around, and he fought superbly in Normandy without waste.


..... Rommel badly needed to take Tobruk. He did not have enough troops to mask it and continue an advance to Egypt. And possession of Tobruk'e harbor facilities would have materially eased his logistics problem, since all his supplies were being trucked over the road from Benghazi, about 500 km away. Van Creveld ("Supplying War") did an interesting logistical calculation on how much fuel was being consumed by the supply columns to reach the front. The numbers were staggering.

SeaFireLIV
08-21-2007, 05:38 PM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:



..... Rommel pointedly refused to accept SS troops in N Africa. This doesn't take away from the fact that the campaign area was unusually devoid of large civilian populations and thus made the nature of their treatment moot, but it does hint at Rommel's mindset.

Very interesting. I also saw a WWII docu (enacted drama from real life accounts) where Rommel had a conversation with a British prisoner of war, where the prisoner mentioned about the German`s treatment of the Jews. At this Rommel became angry, saying that he was not interested in politics and sent the prisoner out.

This and your example further strengthens my belief that he did not support the nazi ideology at all, but would rather sweep it under the blanket and focus on his job.


leitmotiv wrote:

"Rommel was a huge risk-taker, and he was not at all shy about throwing away the lives of soldiers in his dicing. In spring 1941, when he hit an Australian brick wall at Tobruk, he kept throwing soldiers and tanks against the defenses where they got chewed up. A general protested at the squandering of good infantry without artillery support, and Rommel screamed at him like a madman. It took the final thumping Monty gave him at El Alamein in the fall of 1942 to bring him around, and he fought superbly in Normandy without waste. "


Sometimes a good general has to know when he must sacrifice his men for the evntual outcome of victory. It`s easy for someone else to point at men lost and say, "You`re doing it wrong," but not so easy to take the responsibility of making the hard decisions.

I honestly believe that a General`s hardest task must have been taking the criticisms from his own lieutenants when he is sure of a plan that will work. A general must sometimes be strong and go ahead with his decision whether right or wrong.

leitmotiv
08-21-2007, 05:51 PM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by leitmotiv:
Rommel was a huge risk-taker, and he was not at all shy about throwing away the lives of soldiers in his dicing. In spring 1941, when he hit an Australian brick wall at Tobruk, he kept throwing soldiers and tanks against the defenses where they got chewed up. A general protested at the squandering of good infantry without artillery support, and Rommel screamed at him like a madman. It took the final thumping Monty gave him at El Alamein in the fall of 1942 to bring him around, and he fought superbly in Normandy without waste.


..... Rommel badly needed to take Tobruk. He did not have enough troops to mask it and continue an advance to Egypt. And possession of Tobruk'e harbor facilities would have materially eased his logistics problem, since all his supplies were being trucked over the road from Benghazi, about 500 km away. Van Creveld ("Supplying War") did an interesting logistical calculation on how much fuel was being consumed by the supply columns to reach the front. The numbers were staggering. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Rommel's tactics against Tobruk at this time (throwing tanks and infantry against prepared positions without artillery support) were insipid and decadent. Once he realized he could not take the town by a coup de main, the intelligent thing to do was to wait and bring up the guns. Instead, he continued to bash against a brick wall killing officers and enlisted men prodigally. The strategic situation was obvious, but his means of addressing it was absurd. Rommel continued to use the tactics he used in France against disorganized and out of supply units until El Alamein. If the 8th Army had been a higher quality organization, he would have been destroyed in 1941.

Talamir
08-21-2007, 10:57 PM
Originally posted by SeaFireLIV:

perhaps fate could not allow such a good general to be present on D-Day as he may have feasibly pushed the Allies back off the beaches!



I doubt he or any other general would have been able to push the Allies back off the beaches. Though I do think it would have cost more lives.

ploughman
08-22-2007, 04:09 AM
There was an Axis signals unit, name escapes me, that listened in on Commonwealth tactical radio nets. The Allied signals security was very lax, pretty much limited to using hunting slang, so Rommel had very good up to date intelligence. Fortuitously this unit was captured some time in the summer of '42.

BaldieJr
08-22-2007, 04:41 AM
i wonder how many deaths i have to be part of before i'm honorable.

Deadmeat313
08-22-2007, 05:01 AM
I have read the memoirs of Hans Von Luck. He does come across as a very nice chap who didn't really sit well in a military "kill 'em all" environment, but was determined to do his best. He seems to have been respected as a leader in his own right - practically a requirement in a Reconnaisance leader who is expected to go off and do his job away from central command.

His tale of war in Africa is actually almost too full of anecdotes of kind/friendly acts between the warring groups. It started to strain credulity at times. He focuses on these points almost to the exclusion of any reportage of actual fighting.

I reconciled it as: These are the stories he has chosen to remember and relate. Presumably there would be other stories - of hardship and violence - that he chose not to tell.

His reasons for the "gentlemanly" aspect to the conflict:
1) Luck's Reconnaisance battalion would only really ever encounter the 8th Army's two recon battalions. They went out in small groups and had brief clashes with each other, but no real reason to stick around for a prolonged fight. These three battalions almost fought their own separate little war, it seems - with the main objective being to prevent the other side getting a look at your main army, while you get a look at theirs. They probably became quite familiar with each other.

2) The enviromnent was so harsh, he described it as the "main enemy". In a way, both his and his opponents units were both fighting the same harsh desert. It was easy to empathise with the difficulties your opponent faced when they got into trouble far from suppport - and it was a short step to actually start providing low-key assistance to those you found in trouble. Doubtless it boosted the morale of his own troops, knowing that they could hope for assistance from the British if they really got stuck.


T.

Blutarski2004
08-22-2007, 05:02 AM
Originally posted by Ploughman:
There was an Axis signals unit, name escapes me, that listened in on Commonwealth tactical radio nets. The Allied signals security was very lax, pretty much limited to using hunting slang, so Rommel had very good up to date intelligence. Fortuitously this unit was captured some time in the summer of '42.


..... I believe you're thinking of the Brandenburgers.

Blutarski2004
08-22-2007, 05:43 AM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by leitmotiv:
Rommel was a huge risk-taker, and he was not at all shy about throwing away the lives of soldiers in his dicing. In spring 1941, when he hit an Australian brick wall at Tobruk, he kept throwing soldiers and tanks against the defenses where they got chewed up. A general protested at the squandering of good infantry without artillery support, and Rommel screamed at him like a madman. It took the final thumping Monty gave him at El Alamein in the fall of 1942 to bring him around, and he fought superbly in Normandy without waste.


..... Rommel badly needed to take Tobruk. He did not have enough troops to mask it and continue an advance to Egypt. And possession of Tobruk'e harbor facilities would have materially eased his logistics problem, since all his supplies were being trucked over the road from Benghazi, about 500 km away. Van Creveld ("Supplying War") did an interesting logistical calculation on how much fuel was being consumed by the supply columns to reach the front. The numbers were staggering. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


UPDATE - Re-checked my reference books. At the time of the Siege of Tobruk, the Italians were still landing the supplies at Tripoli, which was over 1000 miles from Tobruk.

Rickustyit
08-22-2007, 10:54 PM
I still think Rommel has been hugely overrated by everyone, especially by the British who wanted someone to blame for their rapid retreat in the first months of 1941.

A GREAT tactician, of course.

A TERRIBLE strategic General, especially considering how he was not much into the thinking of supply chains, convoys, and especially before the Summer of 1942 when he decided to continue its advance before taking Malta (against the will of General Kesselring but with the approval of Mussolini and Hitler).

Regarding the "Gentleman's war" , I read some time ago that during the air battles of Malta there was a real "friendship" between the High Command of the Regia Aeronautica and the RAF, and they often kept in contact to see who was captured or killed, but once the Germans X Fliegerkorps came into Sicily, this practice did stop suddenly....

Rick

leitmotiv
08-22-2007, 11:41 PM
What happened to Malta, being bombed literally into the Stone Age by the Italians and the Germans, doesn't really fit into the concept of "gentlemen's war." It was very 20th century, very nasty, and unrelentingly brutal. The islanders came within an inch of starvation several times.

JimmyBlonde
08-23-2007, 02:43 AM
A good fictional account of the gentlemans war would be "A Good Clean Fight" by Derek Robinson.

It' has some good bits about the LRDG as well as Luftwaffe and RAF.

djetz
08-23-2007, 03:44 AM
I tend to agree with the "Rommel was overrated" theory. He's been highly romanticised.

From what I understand, he was happy to be a Nazi while the Nazis were winning... but that's true of most of the German general staff.

I seriously doubt the Nazi treatment of Jews and other atrocities played any part in him changing his mind about the Nazi leadership. I get the impression most, probably all, of the anti-Nazi feeling that arose in the Wehrmacht by '44 was due to Hitler et al dragging Germany into an unwinnable war.

The anti-Nazi German officers cared about Germany, not Jews, and if the Nazis had won and the Jews (and other "undesireables") were wiped out in Europe, I doubt many of them would have felt a twinge of conscience about it.

Blutarski2004
08-23-2007, 05:38 AM
Originally posted by Rickustyit:
I still think Rommel has been hugely overrated by everyone, especially by the British who wanted someone to blame for their rapid retreat in the first months of 1941.

A GREAT tactician, of course.

A TERRIBLE strategic General, especially considering how he was not much into the thinking of supply chains, convoys, and especially before the Summer of 1942 when he decided to continue its advance before taking Malta (against the will of General Kesselring but with the approval of Mussolini and Hitler).

Regarding the "Gentleman's war" , I read some time ago that during the air battles of Malta there was a real "friendship" between the High Command of the Regia Aeronautica and the RAF, and they often kept in contact to see who was captured or killed, but once the Germans X Fliegerkorps came into Sicily, this practice did stop suddenly....

Rick


..... A similar network of personal relationships existed between officers of the Regia Marina and the RN and fostered a good deal of back-channel inter-communication during the war period. Many of the officers of the two services had served closely together in the Med and Adriatic during WW1 and become personally friendly. The RM as well had had close ties with various British armaments firms like Vickers.

Ratsack
08-23-2007, 05:52 AM
Does anybody here know what happened to the civilian population of towns like Tobruk and Gaza during the fighting?

cheers,
Ratsack

Blutarski2004
08-23-2007, 06:22 AM
Originally posted by djetz:
From what I understand, he was happy to be a Nazi while the Nazis were winning... but that's true of most of the German general staff.

..... Rommel was happy to be a professional soldier; he was never a member of the Nazi party.



I seriously doubt the Nazi treatment of Jews and other atrocities played any part in him changing his mind about the Nazi leadership. I get the impression most, probably all, of the anti-Nazi feeling that arose in the Wehrmacht by '44 was due to Hitler et al dragging Germany into an unwinnable war.

..... Whatever his personal feelings about Jews, Rommel refused to accept SS troops of any sort into his North African theater of operations. He also refused to turn over Jewish POWs.

djetz
08-23-2007, 07:11 AM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
..... Rommel was happy to be a professional soldier; he was never a member of the Nazi party.

..... Whatever his personal feelings about Jews, Rommel refused to accept SS troops of any sort into his North African theater of operations. He also refused to turn over Jewish POWs.

He may not have been a party member, but the people he was being a "professional soldier" for were Nazis. And he was quite happy to be a "professional soldier" for the Nazis while the Nazis were winning.

There is no good evidence that he ever gave any support to the actual anti-Nazi movement in the Wehrmacht. I'm sure he had doubts by 1944, but he definitely did not act on them. What convicted him in the eyes of the Nazis was that his name was on lists of potential leaders for after the coup. Not anything he actually did.

If you're looking for honourable men who worked against the Nazis from within, I recommend Canaris and Beck a lot more highly than Rommel.

I don't think he was evil, by any means, but I do think that Rommel worship is misguided. There were better men than him inside the Nazi war machine, and it isn't hard to find out their names.

joeap
08-23-2007, 08:18 AM
Originally posted by Ratsack:
Does anybody here know what happened to the civilian population of towns like Tobruk and Gaza during the fighting?

cheers,
Ratsack

Gaza? There was none AFAIK if you mean the Gaza strip. Don't know about Tobruk but as I said my grandparents remember living through air raids. According to my Grandmom (Dad's side) the Germans (could have been Italians) dropped 7 bombs around the hospital when she was giving birth to my Aunt. Not sure how she could count so precisely however. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif As I said, there was some effect on civilians it's just the fighting never reached major cities. If Cairo had fallen, things might have gotten nastier who knows?

Agree with comments here that Rommel was overrated both for his ability and his stand against the Nazis.

joeap
08-23-2007, 08:21 AM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
What happened to Malta, being bombed literally into the Stone Age by the Italians and the Germans, doesn't really fit into the concept of "gentlemen's war." It was very 20th century, very nasty, and unrelentingly brutal. The islanders came within an inch of starvation several times.

Yes exactly, always exceptions. That's more Med and less North Africa though. What happened in Italy after the fall of Il Duce and what happened in the Balkans was the epitome of nasty and horrible and complicated.

Blutarski2004
08-23-2007, 10:45 AM
Originally posted by djetz:
He may not have been a party member, but the people he was being a "professional soldier" for were Nazis. And he was quite happy to be a "professional soldier" for the Nazis while the Nazis were winning.

..... It would be necessary for you to possess credentials as a posthumous mind-reader to know Herr Rommel's sentiments on that score. The fairest thing to say is that we do not know.




There is no good evidence that he ever gave any support to the actual anti-Nazi movement in the Wehrmacht. I'm sure he had doubts by 1944, but he definitely did not act on them.

..... There is no good evidence to indicate that he did not. Records of that sort of activity were not exactly kept in that period. Historians are in fact largely in agreement that the degree of Rommel's involvement remains unclear.




What convicted him in the eyes of the Nazis was that his name was on lists of potential leaders for after the coup.

..... That was only one of several factors which ultimately condemned him in the eyes of the Nazis. Word had also reached Berlin of harsh criticisms rendered by Rommel regarding incompetence displayed by Nazi leaders.




If you're looking for honourable men who worked against the Nazis from within, I recommend Canaris and Beck a lot more highly than Rommel.

..... My standards are rather less stringent than yours. In terms of personal conduct, Rommel behaved as an honorable man and soldier; he was not responsible for the policies of his government. If entry into the fraternity of honorable men requires betrayal of homeland, oath of service, and sacrifice of career, family, and life, then precious few will ever meet such qualifications.




I don't think he was evil, by any means, but I do think that Rommel worship is misguided. There were better men than him inside the Nazi war machine, and it isn't hard to find out their names.

..... I don't see it as a contest. Canaris was a special individual - a martyr perhaps in the eyes of some, considering that he ended up dying on a meathook. But that should not cause us to diminish the behavior and conduct of others. Rommel was no deity, but he was a great soldier and commander. He was given a hugely ambitious goal without the necessary means and support to achieve it; he was saddled with an unreliable and uncooperative ally; he faced heavy numerical odds throughout his N African campaign. Yet he extracted and employed every last drop of effort from his men and came unimaginably close to success despite all. If not worship, the man at least deserves respect for his talents and achievements.

lowfighter
08-23-2007, 11:57 AM
My memory is hazy about details but somewhere in '44 I think he proposed Hitler to make a deal with the jews, amazing that even so late he didn't know how the jews were "usually handled" by Hitler at that time.

MB_Avro_UK
08-23-2007, 04:56 PM
hi all,

As mentioned here,the desert was probably the common enemy. And it maybe created a sense of comradeship between the enemies.

I did read somewhere that a quantity of alcohol had been captured by the Africa Corps after 17.00 hours and Romell insisted that it was returned to the British.

I can't find the source at the moment.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

ElAurens
08-23-2007, 04:57 PM
Originally posted by Rickustyit:

A GREAT tactician, of course.

A TERRIBLE strategic General, especially considering how he was not much into the thinking of supply chains,
Rick

This can be said of the entire German General Staff.

Great battlefield tacticians, but unable to win any war since the 1870s.

Ratsack
08-23-2007, 05:01 PM
Originally posted by joeap:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Ratsack:
Does anybody here know what happened to the civilian population of towns like Tobruk and Gaza during the fighting?

cheers,
Ratsack

Gaza? There was none AFAIK if you mean the Gaza strip. Don't know about Tobruk but as I said my grandparents remember living through air raids. According to my Grandmom (Dad's side) the Germans (could have been Italians) dropped 7 bombs around the hospital when she was giving birth to my Aunt. Not sure how she could count so precisely however. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif As I said, there was some effect on civilians it's just the fighting never reached major cities. If Cairo had fallen, things might have gotten nastier who knows?

Agree with comments here that Rommel was overrated both for his ability and his stand against the Nazis. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Oops! Current events on the brain!

I meant Gazala.

cheers,
Ratsack

Blutarski2004
08-23-2007, 06:02 PM
Originally posted by Rickustyit:
A TERRIBLE strategic General, especially considering how he was not much into the thinking of supply chains, convoys, and especially before the Summer of 1942 when he decided to continue its advance before taking Malta


..... Malta was not in Rommel's area of responsibility. It was the responsibility of Kesselring and the Italian high command. By the time Rommel launched his Gazala offensive, Malta had been neutralized as a threat to his Mediterranean supply routes.

Rommel attacked the 8th Army, which was massively superior in numbers and occupied well prepared defenses behind massive minefields. He put them to flight and pursued them over 500 km all the way back to Alamein, bagging huge numbers of prisoners in the bargain.

While this was going on, the German Summer 1942 offensive was under way in Russia. If Hitler had diverted the tiniest fraction of troops and supply to support Rommel (no more than a corps - 2 or 3 divisions) he might very well have seized Alexandria which would have been an absolutely staggering blow to the British position in the Mid East. It would have eliminated Britain's only naval base in the E Mediterranean, severed the Suez Canal connection to India, certainly have collapsed British control over Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and the Mid East oil fields.

Possession of the Mid East oil would have meant that there was no longer a need to split Army Group A and send it into the Caucasus. With Army Groups A & B united, the drive on Stalingrad takes on a very different aspect.

All this might also have induced Turkey to abandon her neutrality and enter the war on the side of Germany, in which case, the Allied position in Persia is put at risk.

The irony is that the troop reinforcements which were denied to Rommel in the summer of 1942 were flooded over to him on a rush rush basis after his defeat at Alamein, only to end up in the bag in Tunisia. If they had been provided six months earlier ..... well, do the math.

leitmotiv
08-23-2007, 06:34 PM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
hi all,

As mentioned here,the desert was probably the common enemy. And it maybe created a sense of comradeship between the enemies.

I did read somewhere that a quantity of alcohol had been captured by the Africa Corps after 17.00 hours and Romell insisted that it was returned to the British.

I can't find the source at the moment.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Absolutely. I don't know how they did it. I can't imagine anything more hellish than trying to keep your wits about you in 110 degree heat in or out of a tank, or suffering through the sand storms. I can't recall the exact details, but I believe one year was the maximum a soldier could serve in the desert. By that time he was so wretched with microbes and skin infections he was worthless for anything. Not surprising. Where I live, when it hits 100 degrees, half the population goes psychotic and the others are too run down to think. I can't imagine having to fight in the desert.

When I think of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan loaded down with body armor and kit, fighting in broiling heat, I can only say I don't know how they do it. Supermen.

djetz
08-24-2007, 01:20 AM
Honour is about a sense of right and wrong. It's about taking responsibility for your own actions, not hiding behind an oath of allegiance.

Oaths to Hitler and the Nazi state didn't stand up in court. If you think an oath outweighs military law, or international law, you better hope you don't have to argue it in court.

JimmyBlonde
08-24-2007, 01:30 AM
Originally posted by djetz:
I tend to agree with the "Rommel was overrated" theory. He's been highly romanticised.

From what I understand, he was happy to be a Nazi while the Nazis were winning... but that's true of most of the German general staff.

I seriously doubt the Nazi treatment of Jews and other atrocities played any part in him changing his mind about the Nazi leadership. I get the impression most, probably all, of the anti-Nazi feeling that arose in the Wehrmacht by '44 was due to Hitler et al dragging Germany into an unwinnable war.

The anti-Nazi German officers cared about Germany, not Jews, and if the Nazis had won and the Jews (and other "undesireables") were wiped out in Europe, I doubt many of them would have felt a twinge of conscience about it.

I actually read a rather hefty tome called "On te trail of the Fox" (Can't remember the author) But this largely confirms a lot of what you say, Rommel was certainly over-confident in the beginning of the Desert war and was known to have only one strategy...

*Angriffen! Angriffen!*

Which apparently is all his subordinates got out of him most of the time. A vain and self obsessed man but one who had a upbringing that drilled into him a sense of iron discipline and strong Teutonic, gentlmanly values.

His faith in Hitler seems to have been complete until the end despite what has been widely said although I do remember passages in the book where he expressed some doubts in Hitler to his wife in letters etc.

Rommel's decline was largely caused by his last AdC who went on to become a big wheel in the post war Wehrmacht.

Friendly_flyer
08-24-2007, 01:51 AM
Originally posted by djetz:
Oaths to Hitler and the Nazi state didn't stand up in court. If you think an oath outweighs military law, or international law, you better hope you don't have to argue it in court.

You are legally right of course, but the funny thing about moral and oaths is that they operate on the side of the law, often in an area where there is no law to govern actions. For quite a few it raises above the law when the push comes to show, no matter what the legal system feels about it.

This reminds me of a joke from 1942:

What's the difference between Rommel and a clock? The clock says "tic-tac, tic-tac" and moves forward, Rommel says "tac-tic, tac-tic" and moves backwards!

Blutarski2004
08-24-2007, 06:13 AM
Originally posted by djetz:
Honour is about a sense of right and wrong. It's about taking responsibility for your own actions, not hiding behind an oath of allegiance.

Oaths to Hitler and the Nazi state didn't stand up in court. If you think an oath outweighs military law, or international law, you better hope you don't have to argue it in court.


..... I hope that you find life as simple as you seem to think it is.

djetz
08-25-2007, 02:13 AM
Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
..... I hope that you find life as simple as you seem to think it is.

Yeah, a conscience and a sense of right and wrong help with that, thanks.

ViktorViktor
08-25-2007, 03:25 AM
quote:
Originally posted by djetz:
*******************************************
Honour is about a sense of right and wrong. It's about taking responsibility for your own actions, not hiding behind an oath of allegiance.

Oaths to Hitler and the Nazi state didn't stand up in court. If you think an oath outweighs military law, or international law, you better hope you don't have to argue it in court.
***********************************************

When you make an oath to your country/leaders, you are taking a serious action. Should one not take responsibility for the oaths one makes ?

It is contradictory to speak of taking responsibility for ones actions, while at the same time dismiss the immorality of oath-breaking.

Blutarski2004
08-25-2007, 02:53 PM
Originally posted by djetz:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Blutarski2004:
..... I hope that you find life as simple as you seem to think it is.

Yeah, a conscience and a sense of right and wrong help with that, thanks. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


..... Just the reverse actually. But good luck to you in either case.