Re: History Buffs - Patton vs Rommel
Rommel is one of the most over-rated generals in history (right behind Monty). von Rundstedt was the much better military leader and Germany's best General might have even been Guderian. I think von Rundstedt would have been a worth adversary for Patton, but not Rommel. His leadership in regrouping the retreating German Army in Holland was a brilliant.
Rommel seems to be held in high regard in the west mainly because he happened to be the guy who was in charge in the west and in North Africa. But if you read any German historians, Rommel is widely considered incompetent and one of the worst generals they had in WWII. He was known to cozy up to the press, especially photographers to help build his reputation.
He was notorious for being overly agressive, even reckless, and regularly disobeying orders. He never listened to the experts on logistics, which was probably his downfall in Africa. The other officers hated hated the guy because he was all about himself and he never listened to anyone.
When ordered to stay on the defensive in Africa, he instead went on a major offensive against Britian. While it looked like a brilliant offensive, they failed to take Tobruk and didn't capture anything of real significance (ports). The worst part was this was in early 1941 when the invasion of Russia was coming. Many of the Nazi leaders were irate that he would waste such resources that were going to be used in Barbarossa (telling that in the most critical campaign of the war, Rommel was not included). And while they finally captured Tobruk after 4 tries, his best accomplishment in Africa was probably the retreat.
His lack of communication with other German leaders cost them big time after his victory at Kasserine, which wound up costing them the overall initiative. His lack of concern for logistics left no evacuation route for German troops and they ended up surrendering 200,000 troops in Tunisia.
His vaunted Atlantic Wall held up the Allies for all of a half day. Perhaps his most significant goof was his complete misinterpretation of the conditions with which the Allies would begin their invasion. The fact that at such a critical time, he decided to leave for his wife's birthday was inexcusable. He wasn't there for D-Day. And while I hold that he was not a great general his presence in Normandy might have changed the course of that battle. The Germans suffered from decision paralysis on June6 because no one wanted to make important decisions. Had Rommel been there, the Panzer groups that were close by might have been moved to the Normandy beach area rather than sit quietly by as the Allies established a beach head. I hope his wife had a happy birthday because his presence with her cost the Germans big time. So for the two most significant losses his troops experienced (round 2 of El Alamein and Normandy) he was absent.
Some historians speculate that this is a big reason why his reputation has remained intact over the years. Others have suggested that it was Monty's high praise of Rommel's brilliance in North Africa that built up his reputation to begin with. BUt for whatever reason, he's held in high regard by the west, but is considered a boob by his countrymen. My opinion is that when most British and Americans think of the German Army, Rommel is who they associate with it. And he was never part of the eastern front where Russia experienced its greatest defeats (this is key when it comes to Rommel's reputation). In reality, if you break down his actual military tactics and accomplishment, his record is quite poor. He might be the most famous German milatry personality of the war, but he's not one of the best.
And contrary to the belief of many, Rommel was opposed to the plot to kill Hitler.
So my answer is Patton in a laugher.
Grape works as a soda. Sort of as a gum. I wonder why it doesn't work as a pie. Grape pie? There's no grape pie. - Larry David
Last edited by MWM; 02-10-2007 at 12:12 PM.