Erwin Rommel

From Kaiserreich


Colonel Erwin Rommel

Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel (born on November, 15 1891 in Heidenheim, Germany) is a German military officer. Current director of the Potsdam War Academy, he is known in German military circles to be one of the most fervent advocates of tank warfare.


Rommel was born in Heidenheim, the second of three sons of a Protestant headmaster of the secondary school at Aalen, Erwin Rommel the elder, and Helene von Luz, a daughter of a prominent local dignitary. The couple also had three more children, two sons, Karl and Gerhard, and a daughter, Helene. At the age of fourteen, Rommel and a friend built a full-scale glider that was able to fly short distances.

Young Erwin considered becoming an engineer and would throughout his life display extraordinary technical aptitude; however, much to his family's dismay young Rommel joined the local 124th Württemberg Infantry Regiment as an officer cadet in 1910 and, shortly after, was sent to the Officer Cadet School in Danzig. He graduated on November 15, 1911 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in January 1912. While at Cadet School, early in 1911, Erwin Rommel met his future wife, 17-year-old Lucia Maria Mollin. They married in 1916, and in 1928 had a son, Manfred.

During the Weltkrieg, Rommel fought in France, as well as in Romania and Italy, initially as a member of the 6th Württemberg Infantry Regiment, and through most of the war in the Württemberg Mountain Battalion of the élite Alpenkorps. While serving with that unit, he gained a reputation for making quick tactical decisions and taking advantage of enemy confusion. He was wounded three times and awarded the Iron Cross; First and Second Class. Rommel also received the Pour le Mérite after fighting in the Battles of the Isonzo. The award came as a result of the Battle of Longarone, and the capture of Mount Matajur and its defenders, numbering 150 Italian officers, 9,000 men and 81 pieces of artillery. His battalion used poison gas during the battles of the Isonzo and also played a key role in the victory of the Central Powers over the Italian Army at the Battle of Caporetto.

While fighting at Isonzo, Rommel was taken prisoner by the Italians. He escaped his captors, and, with a fluency in the Italian language and other skills, he was back to the German lines within two weeks. He fought the last times of the Italian campaign, participating to the attack on Rome and the counter-attack against the Syndicalist revolters of the South in Anzio. He later remained in Italy for the occupation of Venice by Austrian troops until the end of the war.

After the war, Rommel held battalion commands and distinguished himself during the 1926 German intervention in China, commanding a small group of tankists during the battle of Nanjing. He later moved to the cavalry and befriended Heinz Guderian. An instructor at the Dresden Infantry School from 1929 to 1933, he was made director in Potsdam War Academy in 1935. Rommel's war diaries, Panzer greift an (Tank Attacks), published the same year, are a combination of his own account of his experiences in the Weltkrieg, and advocating a rapid mechanization of the German Army and a strategy of mixed tanks and elite troopers. The book helped the cause of the German Panzers to go further in the military circles, and to give Rommel a wide reputation.

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