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Rommel's Leadership at the Battle of El Alamein

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General Erwin Rommel solidified his reputation of being a courageous warrior and great leader as a young officer in World War I. In the Battle of France, Rommel continued to demonstrate his outstanding leadership abilities and superior tactical skills as the commander of the 7th Panzer Division (Harvey, 2008, p. 308-309). Rommel's confidence was high as he wrote to his wife saying "The war has become practically a lightning Tour de France... Within a few days it will be over for good." (p. 310). This confidence was shared by Hitler as he dispatched Rommel and his "Afrikakorps" believing that Rommel would "invade Egypt, cross Syria, Iraq, and Iran and join up with the northern armies in Russia to seize the oilfields" (p. 310). The Battle of El Alamein, it has been argued, was one of the major turning points of World War II. It was certainly a turning point in Rommel's confidence that Germany would be victorious at the end of the war.

Rommel's outstanding leadership was noted throughout the failed offensive and eventual retreat during the Battle of El Alamein. According to Harvey, "Rommel's lightning movement, his capacity for improvisation, and his ability to deceive and trap the enemy were all demonstrations of pure military genius" (p. 311). Rommel also demonstrated his care of his men as well as his personal moral courage by ignoring Hitler's order to remain in place at El Alamein and "as to your troops you can show them no other road that victory or death" (p. 312). Rommel's subsequent 2000 mile retreat to Tunis ultimately saved the German and Italian armies from certain decimation. Just as Rommel's offensive progress was stalled by a lack of supplies and reinforcements; the speed of Montgomery's pursuit was also limited by resupply lines allowing Rommel to escape (Montgomery, 2008, p. 3).

In summary, General Erwin Rommel displayed outstanding leadership skills and exceptional tactical prowess even during the defeat at the Battle of El Alamein. He displayed physical courage as he led his men with "ferocious courage" as he took up a defensive position after the stalled offensive (p. 312). His extraordinary moral courage was displayed when he ignored an order directly from the Fuhrer himself; Adolf Hitler. Rommel knew that he could be shot for disobeying an order but chose to look out for the welfare of his men. In my opinion, General Erwin Rommel fought for the wrong side but was an extremely talented warrior and outstanding military leader.

References

Harvey, R. (2008). Maverick Military Leaders: The Extraordinary Battles of Washington, Nelson, Patton, Rommel, and others, New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Montgomery. (2008). In Great Military Lives: Leadership and Courage-

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