Among the highest ranking German soldiers of World War II were particularly well-known and popular , the “Desert Fox” General Marshal Erwin Rommel, and the “Hero of Narvik,” Generaloberst Eduard Dietl. It’s not just their above-average popularity that these two men had in common. Rather, it is not difficult to draw more similar parallels with regard to origin and development. It starts with the fact that both were somewhat equal and were born in the first years of the reign of the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II. Both came from the southern German area, both were “Troopers” and not General Staff members, and both understood how to impress and shape young people as a teacher at officer schools young people and as higher commanders drag their soldiers in seemingly hopeless situations to peak performance. And finally, both of them died as a mid-fifties during the war one not natural death and not even by enemy action: Rommel supported the Nazi seizure of power and Adolf Hitler, although his reluctant stance towards antisemitism, Nazi ideology and level of knowledge of The Holocaust remain a matter of debate among scholars. In 1944, Rommel was implicated in the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler. Due to Rommel’s status as a national hero, Hitler desired to eliminate him quietly instead of immediately executing him, as many other plotters were. Rommel was given a choice between committing suicide, in return for assurances that his reputation would remain intact and that his family would not be persecuted following his death, or facing a trial that would result in his disgrace and execution; he chose the former and committed suicide using a cyanide pill. Rommel was given a state funeral, and it was announced that he had succumbed to his injuries from the strafing of his staff car in Normandy On 23 June 1944, the Ju 52 aircraft carrying Generaloberst Eduard Dietl, General der Infanterie Thomas-Emil von Wickede, age 51, General der Gebirgstruppe Karl Eglseer, age 53, Generalleutnant der Gebirgstruppe Franz Rossi and three other passengers crashed in the vicinity of the small village of Rettenegg, Styria. There were no survivors.
Rommel’s suicide ground monument Dietl’s crash ground monument