Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Erwin Rommel at the Sollum Front

This picture was taken by Fritz Sturm and it shows Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel (Kommandierender General Deutsches Afrikakorps) with his staff in the inspection to the gun positions of I.Abteilung / Artillerie-Regiment 33 (motorisiert) / 15.Panzer-Division near Point 206, about 5 km south of Fort Capuzzo at Solum front, May/June 1941. Behind him facing the camera and holding a pair of binoculars is Major Lucius Günther Schrivenbach (12 September 1911 - 2007), a staff officer of the "Desert Fox" in his campaign in Africa (1941-1943) and in Normandy (1944), followed by the same position for Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt to the end of war. Rommel was loved by the enlisted men under his command and quite detested by his officers as they considered him interfering and that he didn’t trust them to do their actual jobs. As a general though he acted as a captain. Rommel is quite often praised for his tactical abilities. Tactics though (the small scale stuff, what soldiers do in battle) wasn’t supposed to be what a general worried about. Rommel was quite an interfering general. German military officers were trained to think for themselves. Today this is known as Mission Type Tactics. The commander was supposed to give an order which stated the resources available to be used (troops, tanks, etc.) and the objective. It was up to the lower ranked officers to use their own initiative in how to obtain the objective. Erwin Rommel gave orders with specific instructions and expected them to be followed to the letter. He would also drive around the front and give orders to soldiers thus cutting their actual officers off (there’s accounts of him issuing individual targets to anti-tank guns rather than let their own officers decide and almost being killed by the return fire!).

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