Time and History 1:25 P.M. Field Marshal Rommel Dies

About major and minor historical events around the clock such as the death of Field Marshall Rommel at 1:25 in the afternoon.


1:25 in the Afternoon

Oct. 14, 1944. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was found dead on arrival at Ulm Hospital.

That day at noon Gen. Wilhelm Burgdorf and Gen. Ernst Maisel had arrived at the field marshal's home. An hour later Rommel went upstairs to his wife's room and said to her, "In a quarter of an hour I shall be dead." He explained that Hitler had discovered his part in "Operation Valkyrie," a conspiracy of German army leaders to blow up the Fuhrer. The bomb went off 2 yd. from Hitler, wrecked his headquarters, injured 20 men and killed 4 others--but Hitler miraculously escaped. Rommel had been given a choice--immediate death by poison or a public trial. However, Burgdorf had made it perfectly clear that if Rommel chose a court hearing, reprisals would be taken against his family. However, if Rommel elected suicide his family would receive all pensions due and he would get a full military funeral. (Hitler obviously did not want to admit that Germany's most famous general had plotted against him.)

After giving his wife a brief good-bye, Rommel put on his overcoat and walked to the waiting car. On the drive to Ulm, Burgdorf ordered the car to stop and told Maisel and the SS driver to leave for just a moment. When the two men returned, Rommel was dead, probably from a cyanide pill, which would have killed him almost instantly. At his state funeral three days later, the largest wreath came from Hitler.

Footnote: On July 15 Rommel saw the hopelessness of the Normandy situation and demanded that Hitler negotiate an armistice. Forty-eight hours later two planes with British markings attacked Rommel's car and shot it off the road. The one volley hit the car and knocked Rommel out onto the road. The field marshal lived but suffered a fractured skull, a broken cheekbone, an eye injury, and a concussion of the brain. The curious thing is, according to British records, no RAF plane could have been involved. It is possible that Hitler had been planning Rommel's death for some time.

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