Erwin Rommel

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Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas.

Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel (15 November 1891 - 14 October 1944) was a German Field Marshal and commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps in World War II. He is also known by his nickname The Desert Fox (Der Wüstenfuchs).


In a man to man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine.
  • In a man to man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine.
    • Infanterie greift an (1937), translated as Attacks (1979); edited by Lee Allen, p.60
  • Courage which goes against military expediency is stupidity, or, if it is insisted upon by a commander, irresponsibility.
  • In view of my services in Africa, I have the chance of dying by poison. Two generals have brought it with them. It is fatal in three seconds. If I take the poison, none of the usual steps will be taken against my family; that is, against you. They will also leave my staff alone.
    • Statement from Rommel's suicide note, choosing death by cyanide, rather than one involving the threatened persecution of his family and staff, after being implicated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
  • Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas.
  • The German soldier has impressed the world, however the Italian Bersagliere soldier has impressed the German soldier.
    • On the plaque dedicated to the Bersaglieri that fought at Mersa Matruh and Alamein.


  • Men are basically smart or dumb and lazy or ambitious. The dumb and ambitious ones are dangerous and I get rid of them. The dumb and lazy ones I give mundane duties. The smart ambitious ones I put on my staff. The smart and lazy ones I make my commanders.
  • Be an example to your men in your duty and in private life. Never spare yourself, and let the troops see that you don't in your endurance of fatigue and privation. Always be tactful and well-mannered, and teach your subordinates to be the same. Avoid excessive sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates the man who has shortcomings of his own to hide.
  • Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning.
  • I would be rather more happy had he given me one more division.
    • Comment after Hitler made him a Field Marshal
  • In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it.
  • One must not judge everyone in the world by his qualities as a soldier: otherwise we should have no civilization.
  • Sweat saves blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both.
  • The art of concentrating strength at one point, forcing a breakthrough, rolling up and securing the flanks on either side, and then penetrating like lightning deep into his rear, before the enemy has time to react.
  • The future battle on the ground will be preceded by battle in the air. This will determine which of the contestants has to suffer operational and tactical disadvantages and be forced throughout the battle into adopting compromise solutions.
  • There are always times where the place of a commander isn't back with his Major State, but onward with his troops.
  • For the Allies and Germany it will be the longest day. The longest day.
    • Referred to D-Day in Normandy.
  • I didn't die nor win.
    • Referred to the order "either win or die trying!" of Hitler during the retreat of the campaigning in North Africa.
  • For me, soldiers are all equal. Those black people wore your same uniform, fought on your side, and so you will be in the same jail.
    • Said to a captured South African white officer that asked to be put in a different jail from the one with black soldiers.
  • Gentlemen, you have fought like lions and been led by donkeys.
    • Said to captured British officers after Tobruk
  • Good soldiers, bad officers; but remember that without them we wouldn't have civilization.
    • Referred to Italians.
  • Dialogue with Italian general Barbasetti at Capuzzo. Barbassetti: "it was very painful the sacrifice of the X Army Corps abandoned in the desert"; Rommel: "is this a critic? no disapproval words have come from the Fuhrer"; Barbassetti: "I watched the endless column of retreating companies, German drivers rejected to pick up on their trucks the Italians". After these words Rommel silenced.
  • If I had to take hell, I would use the Australians to take it and the New Zealanders to hold it.
    • Said about the Australians and New Zealanders after facing an Australian-New Zealand infantry division in North Africa

About Rommel

  • We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great General.
  • Rommel was jumpy, wanted to do everything at once, then lost interest. Rommel was my superior in command in Normandy. I cannot say Rommel wasn't a good general. When successful, he was good; during reverses, he became depressed.
  • He was the best leader of fast-moving troops but only up to army level. Above that level it was too much for him. Rommel was given too much responsibility. He was a good commander for a corps of army but he was too moody, too changeable. One moment he would be enthusiastic, next moment depressed.
  • Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!
    • George S. Patton
    • Mistaken exclamation upon believing he had defeated Erwin Rommel's forces in North Africa. Rommel and Patton never actually met in combat.
  • Anybody who came under the spell of his personality turned into a real soldier. He seemed to know what the enemy were like and how they would react.
    • Theodor Werner, an officer who, during World War I, served under Rommel

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