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We had an interesting disucssion on this in the Anzac Clan (and I had it with a friend not on LO), and I was wondering the thoughts of the people on the Enhanced Forum.
I personally think he was bad man, and that he should not be hailed as a good person. In short, I think he was evil (not Hilter scale evil), but evil none the less.
How about you?
I believe he was just doing his job. He was a carrer soldier, doing what he liked. He wasn't a member of the Nazi party, he was a member of the army (which despite popular beleif, are two competly different things).On the battlefield he always showed compassion, never killed POW's in cold blood. He was a ruthless tactician sure, but it didn't mean he was evil.
He was in the wrong place, in the wrong time, fighting for the wrong side.
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It takes a special kind of man to be evil, undoubtedly Hitler was one such man, as were a number of his most trusted "henchmen", but I'm not sure you could classify Rommel as one of those men. He did not experiment on prisoners, he did not actively commit genoside, all he did was lead the armoured divisions of the army. However, I do not doubt that he knew of some of the vile things that were happening; the problem with taking that line further, is that I don't know what his response to that was. There is a good chance afterall, that he had an "official" reponse to the horrors, and then a private response; these could have been the same, or they could have been different responses.
I like to believe the best of people, I know it's kind of naive, so I hope that he was disgusted by what his fellow countrymen were doing. But at the same time, I can understand why he wouldn't do anything to risk his own life and career. All I can say about Rommel, is that he was a man on the losing side of a war, who did what he could for his country without damning his soul or sanity. Sometimes, that is all you can ask of a person.
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Well lets put it like this.
He Definetly knew what the nazis where doing. the kind of person that helps them further this, Turns a blind eye, and ignores this is just helping the evil be done.
in my eyes he was evil.
I feel that the question isn't really an issue. I don't think that he was a particularly evil man (sure, he was worse then some), but he was one thing: an incredibly skilled tank commander. The situation is analogous to the Civil War's Bedford Forest, possibly America's best cavalry commander, who later went on to found the KKK.
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Hmm. I tend to agree with the "evil" camp, not that I really believe in evil as an objective force. I think Bonjordo makes a good point.
I read something last year by Hannah Arendt, a famous Jewish post-war historian called "the banality of evil." It is her commentary on the Nuremburg trials and is quite an important work in terms of the world's response to the NAZIs. Arendt puts forward the idea that evil is not what people think it is. It is not a bunch of people in a room going "gentlemen... to evil." It is the inability of the average person to resist following orders, even if they seem wrong.
The vast majority of people, no matter how much they protest it (and there have been psychological tests done to support this) will perform an evil act if they percieve that an authority figure has told them to do it, and that they will not be held personally responsible. So to Arendt, the face of evil is not tyranny, but bureaucracy. Hitler would have achieved nothing if there had not been layers of bureaucrats (and soldiers) in between to blandly and casually follow his orders.
Arendt's idea is the antithesis of the "I was only following orders" defence. Many people would say that Hitler was the "real" murderer and the guys who flicked the switches in the camps were just doing their job. Arendt says that Hitler is merely the catalyst and the guys who flicked the switches are the real murderers.
I agree with her and I fail to see why Rommel's skill as a general or his apparently honourable behaviour excuse him from this. Many people want Rommel to not be evil as they feel conflicted. How can a skilled and honourable soldier (the sort of person we are taught to idolize) also be a hated criminal?
Because of the banality of evil.
Good post robotnik.
I will qoute something, shabbily...
"for evil to succeed, all it takes is for good men to look away."
Note, thats off the top of my head, trying to remember the where its from and how its phrased.
Yes, well done Robotnik. Good Post.
I too remember that quote Jordo, although the orignal escapes me, your version still captures the essence.
This is from a WD (its appropriate)
"It is said that his good service to the Emperor should now be rendered nothing by an act of comtemptible treachery. Better he had died at his first action"
What this means in context:
"Rommell, although he may have been honourable, and possesed extraordinary military skill they mean nothing becasue he fought for an evil regime. It would have been better if he had died as a child or in his first action, rather than live to help the Nazis. "
Compared to many of the German generals, Rommel was a good man. He respected the Geneva convention when it came to prisoners, and treated his opponent's accordingly.
What perhaps prevented him from being as bad as many (For there are worse), was that the campaign that made his name - North Africa, was free of the savagery seen in Europe. It was a campaign fought across desert with little or no chance of causing significant damage to the civilian population of the countries they fought through.
You will also note that the SS never went to Africa, Rommel was never required to get into the ideological madness that consumed the eastern front vs the russians. North Africa was considered a "War without hate" (Read the book "El Alamein - War without hate" It's good).
Was he a good man? Possibly not. He fought more for a resurgent german militarism than he did nazism, although the two went hand in hand. Was he an evil man? He was respected as a man and soldier by his opponents and men alike - and many german general's were deeper in Hitler's pocket than Rommel ever was.
Were the allies right to utterly devastate German cities? Possibly not. Everyone lost in WWII, and both sides committed acts that could be considered distasteful. I don't think any of us can truly appreciate either total war or the desperation that forced people into the hands of the fascists in the first place.
Having an army and not owning a rulebook is like owning a car with no steering wheel.Originally Posted by amishcellphone
I think we are missing a very big point here. Every one is talking about him turning a blind eye the fact was that he didn’t.
We all have to remember Rommel was one of the men who took part in the attempted assassination of Hitler during the war and he paid for it with his life. He in the end committed suicide in order to stop Hitler hurting his family and that alone re-deems him in my opinion.
The man was a hero. He fought for Germany, not for Hitler or his nazi's, but for the nation. He followed to rules of war and did his best, even with Hitler wanting him to hold till the last man, to save his men. He helped make north Africa the most honourable theatre in the whole war.
rommel had served with the German army long before Hitler had come to power back in 1917 and was keeping German interests at heart just like any other countryman would. he was a soldier doing the job he had always done just under a different command.
Last edited by Arklite; December 17th, 2005 at 13:07.
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[16:19] <@Alzer> Arky's right though
[16:20] <@Kaiser-> I know he is.
[16:20] <@Kaiser-> He usually is.
[16:20] <@Kaiser-> Sometimes it's intentional.
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