What would have happened to Rommel?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Vanguard45, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. Vanguard45 Well-Known Member

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    Dec 29, 2018
    Today I was looking at the records of some of the German veterans post war and I wonder. What if Rommel had been captured (let's say his wounding after D-Day causes him to be put in a field hospital that is overrun) or evades suspicion. What would most likely happen in the post war world?
     
  2. Xgentis Member

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    Probably put on trials and get a few years of prison.
     
  3. Lalli Well-Known Member

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    Probably he just would had sent to retirement like Manstein and Guderian. Rommel hadn't commit war crimes at least not any serious and he wasn't part of Nazi inner circle. So he just would be released. It is possible that he is helps on foundation of Bundeswehr.
     
  4. CarribeanViking fnord

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    Semi- mandatory plug; the best biography I know of him is General Sir David Fraser's Knight's Cross, which as you might expect from one senior officer to another goes in to great detail about his military life, how he thought as a soldier, what he thought, when and why, and how he developed.

    Memetic Rommel misses a hell of a lot, including the fact that the legend he tried to build up was entirely deliberate and he seems to have thought of it as a weapon in it's own right, he was vain but tried to put his vanity to military use;
    that he believed initially that all quartermasters were at least part squirrel, there was always more in the pipeline than they wanted to admit to, overcoming their inherent caution was part of his job, and it took a considerable amount of bitter experience to convince him otherwise;
    that his background as what would probably now be special forces confirmed him in his conviction that a few good men were better than numbers, that armies were more crystalline than they liked to think and a good hard swing at a fragile point could cause results out of all proportion to the numbers involved;
    that the infamous Plan Orient started as a morale trick to convince his lads that they weren't just stuck in a secondary theatre, and grew into a huge desert mirage;
    that he wasn't innocent as much as he was hopelessly naive, a lot of his mental furniture still belonged to the Kaiser's army, soldiering was an honourable profession and the Heer he knew just, just wouldn't do that. If you asked him about the myth of the clean wehrmacht he would probably have believed it, up to Spring '44 at least.

    Bundeswehr, most likely.
     
  5. toolbox11742 Well-Known Member

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    Nov 14, 2018
    A surviving Rommel's memoirs would be a world wide best seller; and assuming he can avoid prison for the forced labor on the Atlantic wall and ordering a French POW to be shot and brutal treatment of Italian partisans; via his big war reputation he would be a candidate for founding member of the Bundswehr and possibly West German Chancellor

    He would also be invited as a lecturer for the UK and the USA staff and armored schools
     
  6. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    For the bolded bit, I think he'd get off on that one. Pretty much all armies used some form of forced labor in WWII. And Rommel was noted for how much better he treated the laborers assigned to him than others did. Things like insisting they received a full ration and mandatory rest breaks. IIRC, that was part of what got him into hot water with the Nazis
     
  7. Arcavius Arms and the Man I Sing

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    Yeah, whereas Rommel certainly wasnt perfect, and he might well get some form of rebuke/slap on the wrist, so to speak, ultimately his intellect and prestige mean he is worth more to the WAllies alive than dead to help rebuild the Bundeswehr against the Reds. Plenty of criminals with worse records than his got off once cold war geopolitics set in.
     
  8. Curtain Jerker Well-Known Member

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    Co-sign Knight's Cross. Excellent read.

    I think as others have said the "Manstein Model" happens to Rommel: a few years in a prison then he's an adviser to various Western Bloc militaries once the Cold War sets in. The Western Bloc milks the "hey look, here's a 'good' Nazi helping us against those Reds!" PR value too.
     
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  9. wiking Well-Known Member

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    Why would he even get a few years in prison? Churchill and the Brits built him up as the 'good German officer' so much that if anything it might even elicit outrage in their own ranks to punish him, regardless of whether or not he actually deserved prison. Plus as it was the Allies were the ones who started the notion of the 'clean Wehrmacht' and Rommel was in a lot of ways a prime example of the effort to separate the Germans from the Nazis post-war. He's probably end up being used as a tool in that effort, lecturing against the Nazis/Hitler, in order to 'rehabilitate' Germany. He might end up like Manteuffel, but even more famous and powerful in post-war Germany.
     
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  10. Carl Schwamberger Kicked

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    Well, his post mortem memoirs, edited by his son, did sell well. Superficial reading pif that book by his fans & sloppy researchers helped build the myth. I expect that like the others of all armies, Rommel would have worked his papers and memories into yet another self serving account that would cast the shadow even larger.
     
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  11. jmc247 Well-Known Member

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    Dec 22, 2010
    Not just the British. One can read the American papers and magazines from the 40s google archives to see the U.S. prospective was not different. How many friends did you make vs how many enemies comes down to who got punished and how much among the generals.

    Manstein pissed off the Soviets and the WAllies didn’t care for him outside of liking his military tactics. That was at the time considered worthy of 4 years in jail. Guderian pissed off the Soviets moderately and the WAllies liked his military tactics though not him personally. That was worthy of no jail time and no trial.

    Rommel was in a different category even ignoring his turn against the Nazi regime as he made his opponents fighting him feel good about themselves even in defeat and it gave the WAllied troops a level of peace of mind to know after their battles even captured they would likely be treated well as the rules of war weren’t being allowed to break down as they were in the Eastern Europe and Pacific.

    Rommel also understood the importance of the mass media in his own image and Germany’s public image for the new age of war which was why he talked to reporters so often. It’s also the core of his message to Hitler when he came back from Africa that German anti-Semitic policies were hurting the image of Germany globally and that if he wanted a reasonable peace for Germany that it’s image mattered.

    Rommel would have made a good post war political leader for Germany, but he hated politics even though he was better at it then he would care to admit.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
  12. wiking Well-Known Member

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    Are you arguing that Rommel could have been a German de Gaulle?
     
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  13. jmc247 Well-Known Member

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    He had a similar view on politics as General Petraeus who will be narrating a documentary this year about Rommel and his son.

    Both were very good at some of the core areas that would make a for effective political leaders, but refused to align with any party and believed politics was a swamp and not quite honorable unlike civil and military service.

    But, really it would take something similar to Ike where Rommel is effectively ‘drafted’ and it sold to him as for the good of the county by others.

    Rommel as a post war leader would be interesting. I have no doubt given his aptitudes he would have been better at rebuilding West Germany’s public relations with the world and their national sense of self worth. But, domestic policy wise it’s fuzzy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  14. Curtain Jerker Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how much of the post-war West German recovery is because of Adenauer. If Rommel is running the show there instead of Adenauer is the recovery as fast or as long-lasting?
     
  15. jmc247 Well-Known Member

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    The rebuilding would happen and quickly, the focus on getting German industry back going again would certainly be there. But, I think the biggest unknown would come down to the issue of supranationalism. Adenauer gave it his full backing and saw it as key to the future of Germany and Europe.

    Subordinating national interests towards a collective which eventually became the EU was a revolutionary concept. Generals tend as a group to prefer more evolutionary change. Rommel was no Hindenburg in his thinking, but traditionalism is quite hard to remove from the equation when it comes to military men.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a Rommel government would be slower and more cautious in the area of movement toward economic and political conjoining.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  16. manav95 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the recovery is as fast as under Adenauer. Adenauer was persecuted by the Nazis and was a prisoner under them by the time the war ended. He had a stronger rapport with the Allies as an anti-Nazi, anti-Communist, Christian Democrat who would support free market policies in Germany and combat the appeals of Communism to Germans struggling under the occupation. He also had prewar political experience and was one of the few pre-Nazi political figures left in Germany with any clout.

    Rommel, however, had only military experience. He would not have the ability that Adenauer had in uniting Protestants, Catholics, rehabilitated ex-Nazis, and conservatives into a strong political party to guide West Germany out of the Nazi mess. He had been friends with Hitler and other Nazis, and he was a nationalist at his core. He would have been very belligerent towards the Soviets and looking for any opportunity to invade East Germany to unite Germany. He also would have been apathetic towards democracy like Hindenburg was.
     
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  17. wiking Well-Known Member

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    I don't see how the Allies would allow any German military figure, even Rommel, to lead West Germany immediately after WW2. Adenauer is effectively a lock for that position so long as he is alive because of the anti-Nazi, anti-Communist, anti-Prussian position he had, plus his age and stature in German politics. Given Rommel's distaste for politics he'd if anything probably back Adenauer out of fear of the SPD's leadership.
     
  18. jmc247 Well-Known Member

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    The era of generals across the Western world for leaders or wartime leaders like Churchill coming back was the 50s anyway. The goal of the world was to forget about the war and rebuild immediately after along with punishing certain countries. The era of general leaders in the West came in the 50s when the Cold War appeared then went into high gear, a number of civilian leaders ran into big problems and people wanted a stabilizing and unifying force.

    If one want a ‘recruit Rommel’ moment it would be in the 50s or early 60s if West Germany went through some significant political turbulence for some reason. A worse Cold War with a few other European countries going Red like Greece would be the kind additional confluence of events that might spur something along those lines.

    There were supposedly some major figures who wanted to make his son Chancellor in the early 80s which he brushed away.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  19. Lalli Well-Known Member

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    Feb 28, 2010
    I can't see Rommel being chancellor after WW2. Westerners might had respected him but hardly trusted. And Rommel wouldn't had wanted to be chancellor even if Wallies would had offered the office on golden plate. Perhaps his son could have even more succesful political career but there is not way that marhsall Rommel would be chancellor or president of Germany. He disliked politics so that is not possible. No matter want Wallies that or not.
     
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  20. wiking Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, maybe in the 1950s if he got into party politics like Manteuffel, but I doubt Rommel would do that after the Bundeswehr was formed; his heart was with the military and so long as he were allowed he angle for a role there. I don't know if the world would be willing to see that happen, but assuming he was being a good boy and cooperating with the various post-war Wallied projects he could perhaps even be the inspector general at some point.