Death of the Desert Fox: Rommel's son's account of his father's last moments after Hitler ordered him to take a cyanide pill or be arrested
German general Erwin Rommel told his teenage son he had been ordered to kill himself by Adolf Hitler
In a newly discovered letter, Manfred Rommel describes watching his father being led into a car moments laterRommel, known as Desert Fox, was accused of plotting to kill Hitler
22:22 GMT, 30 December 2012
A poignant account of the German general Erwin Rommel being led away to his death told by his teenage son has been discovered.
In a revealing letter written by Manfred Rommel, he tells of his father's last moments after he was ordered to commit suicide by Adolf Hitler.
His father explained to him he had to poison himself after being implicated in a plot to assassinate the Nazi dictator.
Desert Fox: German general Erwin Rommel agreed to commit suicide in return for assurances his family would be spared
The 15-year-old described watching
Rommel, known as the 'Desert Fox', being led into a staff car by two
German generals minutes later.
Manfred's account then details how his
mother took a phone call from a local hospital just 15 minutes later to
inform her her husband had died.
Field marshal Rommel died within five
seconds of biting on a cyanide capsule while sat in the back of the car
as it drove away from his home to the hospital.
Manfred's typed-written account was made
on April 27, 1945, when the Allies had all but won the war in Europe,
and is believed to have been dictated by him as it is in English.
A poignant account describing the moment Erwin Rommel was led away to his death, written by his teenage son Manfred, has been found.
Erwin Rommel, also known as Desert Fox, was regarded as one of the most skilled commanders of desert warfare in World War Two
The two-page document has come to light after it sold at auction as part of an archive of other wartime mementoes.
Poignant testimony: Manfred Rommel (pictured) went on to become a lawyer, politician and mayor of Stuttgart where he lives today
The collection once belonged to Captain
Noel Chavasse, who the adjutant officer to British army chief Sir
Bernard Montgomery in the Second World War.
It is believed Montgomery had requested a
copy of the account as, despite being enemies, he and Rommel had a
great respect for one another.
Mr Chavasse's daughter has sold her father's archive of documents and photographs for 10,500 pounds.
Rommel was forced into the 'honourable' suicide in October 1944 to spare his family suffering.
He was accused of plotting against Hitler
and given the choice of suicide or a court trial which would have led
to his conviction and execution and pain for his family.
He said: 'At 12 o'clock my father
received the two generals. About three quarters of an hour after that I
met my father just coming out of my mother's room
then told me… that Adolf Hitler had given him the choice between
taking poison or being brought before the People's Court.
'Adolf Hitler had also let him know that in the event of his committing suicide, nothing was to happen to his family.
said farewell to me… my father left the house in uniform, we
accompanying (sic) him to the car where the general saluted him with
'My father got into the car first and took a seat in the back followed by the generals… the car drove off.
minutes later we had a telephone call from the general hospital to that
my father had been brought there by the two generals and had apparently
succumbed there to an attack of cerebral apoplexy.'
General Rommel: Erwin Rommel pictured seated atop a reconnaissance car chatting with some of his officers in the German North Africa Corps
'In my last talk with my father he told me that he had been suspected of complicity in the 20th July 1944 plot.
Fuhrer, he was informed, did not wish to lower his prestige with the
German people so was offering him the chance of a voluntary death by
means of a poison pill.
'It would have a mortal effect within 5 seconds. In the event of his refusing, he was to be arrested immediately.'
Manfred Rommel had planned on joining Hitler's notorious Waffen SS but his father was against it and so joined the Luftwaffe.
He went on to become a lawyer, politician and mayor of Stuttgart, where he lives today.
Word of a son: Manfred Rommel gave the account of his father's death in his teens
In his words: The testimony is believed to have been dictated by Manfred in English as it is written down
Bernard Pass, of Bosley's auctioneers of Marlow, Bucks, which sold the account, said: 'Rommel's son must have gone to the Allies and given this true account of what happened to his father rather than the one that had been issued by the Nazi propaganda machine.
'Rommel was a national hero and as popular as Hitler in Germany.
'The suggestion of Rommel turning traitor against Hitler would have had a very damaging effect on the Nazi party had it come out at a trial.
'This is a very poignant account as told by a son seeing his father led away to his death.'
DESERT FOX ERWIN ROMMEL: A MILITARY LEGEND
Erwin Rommel, who was also known as Desert Fox, was one of Germany’s most respected military leaders in World War Two.
He played a part in two very significant battles during the war – at El Alamein in North Africa and at D-Day.
It was his leadership of German and Italian forces in the North African campaign that established the legend of the Desert Fox, a name given to him by the British.
Rommel is regarded as having been a humane and professional officer. His Afrikakorps was never accused of war crimes.
He also ignored orders to kill captured commandos, Jewish soldiers and civilians in all theaters of his command, according to reports.
Coming to the end of World War Two, Rommel was accused of conspiring to kill Adolf Hitler (pictured).
Hitler was keen to avoid the public show trial of his most famous general and it seems that a 'deal’ was done in order to eliminate Rommel quietly.
Rommel died ‘of his wounds’ on October 14, 1944. He was given a state funeral. But it was later revealed he committed suicide.
He agreed to kill himself by taking a cyanide pill, in return for assurances his family would not be punished.