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Erwin Rommel is often portrayed as the chivalrous Nazi. I've read on the internet that he once proposed to Hitler that a Jew be appointed a Nazi official, but I'm not able to verify that. What were Rommel's views on the murder of civilians during World War II? He took part in the invasion of Poland, during which Polish civilians were murdered indiscriminately. He must have known about it. What did he think about it? Did he ever take any actions to stop the Nazi crimes?

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Erhard Milch? That wasn't Rommel's doing –  DVK May 5 '13 at 12:25
    
@DVK I found the information here. –  ymar May 5 '13 at 12:29
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I've asked a more focused question with a much smaller scope. If it's answered it should prove useful to this one. –  Nathan Cooper May 5 '13 at 15:24
    
See also history.stackexchange.com/q/11179/1979 –  sds Apr 6 at 22:55
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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Rommel's men were not accused of war crimes and he regularly ignored orders to execute captured Jewish soldiers and civilians. Wikipedia also states: "Nazi party officials in France reported that Rommel extensively and scornfully criticised Nazi incompetence and crimes." Also, the strongest evidence that Rommel disagreed with the Nazi party was the fact that he was forced to commit suicide after he was involved in a conspiracy to kill Hitler.

In that sense, Rommel was certainly better than most of the German generals, but that doesn't push him into good guy territory. A number of German generals opposed the campaign against the Jews for strictly practical reasons. They felt that it was diverting resources away from the army and hurting Germany's chances of winning the war. That also explains why they have a different opinion of, as you mentioned, the killing of civilians during a military campaign, like Poland. Bombing civilian targets and sowing terror was considered a valid tactic during a campaign. In that sense it's unlikely that Rommel opposed those kinds of measures.

All in all it seems that Rommel avoided war crimes when he could, and when they were excessive. He still had no problem with civilians as collateral damage, though, and he didn't go out of his way to stop other war crimes, he just avoided committing any himself.

Sources:

Rommel's Wikipedia is a good summary of his attitudes towards the Nazis and his actions during the war.

Steel Fist talks about the development of bombing civilian targets as a wartime strategy, and its use in the Blitzkrieg. It's interesting to note that the strategy was actually originally proposed by the British.

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Not a bad answer, and it jibes with what I have read about the (non-SS) German military in general, so it sounds quite plausable. Could you perhaps dig up a reference in support of this assertion though? –  T.E.D. May 6 '13 at 18:46
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FYI, Rommel's son Manfred became a highly respected politician in post-war Germany: he served for more than 20 years as mayor of Stuttgart, a major provincial capital; he also published a memoir plus an account of his father's life centered around 1944 (plus at least one book of poems and jokes each). This is perhaps the source I'd consult first for details. –  Drux May 7 '13 at 2:05
    
-1 Really unprofessional –  cept0 May 7 '13 at 21:01
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@cept0 - Could you be a bit more constructive? –  Odysseus May 7 '13 at 21:25
    
Your answer is your personal opinion and not the historical truth. –  cept0 May 7 '13 at 21:27
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Erwin Rommel - The Devil's General

The SPIEGEL has released a good up to date point of view about NAZI Rommel (01. November 2012). A view into the modern German perspective on his activities during WWII.

Gentleman warrior, military genius. The legend of Erwin Rommel, the German Field Marshal who outfoxed the British in North Africa, lives on. But a new TV documentary seeks to correct that image by arguing that his victories nearly brought the Holocaust to the Middle East.

DER SPIEGEL 01.11.2011

http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/index-2012-44.html

You can find more background information about the historians work to the article here:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/world-war-ii-new-research-taints-image-of-desert-fox-rommel-a-484510.html

The SPIEGEL is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. *It was launched in 1947, and is one of Europe's largest publications* of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million (1,050,000)

About DER SPIEGEL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Spiegel

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Please take the time to review your sources and construct an answer rather than simply posting links. While the second source is interesting it doesn't apply to the question asked, it's just describing how Hitler might have exploited Rommel's victories to expand the Holocaust, not how Rommel himself felt about it. –  Odysseus May 7 '13 at 21:33
    
Well, it wasn't Hitler itself, it was his General who did all the organization and is in fact responsible for the killings. The article shows no speculation. The SPIEGEL is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It was launched in 1947, and is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million. Their articles about history are well known and approved. No need to downvote me. –  cept0 May 7 '13 at 21:37
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