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ERWIN ROMMEL, (1891-1944)

German general, known as the "Desert Fox for his brilliant military exploits in WORLD WAR II battles in North Africa.

In 1940 he commanded the 7th Panzer Division in the advance into France. In 1941, with the rank of lieutenant general, he was given command of the German troops in Libya. On June 21, 1942, he was made a field marshal, the youngest in the German Army, in recognition of his success in forcing the British back from Cyrenaica into Egypt as far as El Alamein. However, he was unable to advance to capture Alexandria. In the months that followed, during which he commanded all Italo-German troops in North Africa, he was driven back into Cyrenaica and across Tripolitania into Tunisia, where he encountered fresh Allied forces. After the battle at Medenine on March 5, 1943, he returned to Germany because of ill health.

Never a member of the Nazi party, he had become increasingly outspoken in his criticism of Hitler's leadership. On Oct. 14, 1944, he was visited by two German generals investigating the cases of officers suspected of complicity in the July 20 plot against Hitler's life. He was given, on orders from Hitler, the choice between taking poison and having his death reported as resulting from his wounds, or facing trial by the People's Court. He elected the former course, ending his life in the generals' automobile near Ulm, Germany, on Oct. 14, 1944.

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