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"Drive to Nowhere: The Myth of the Afrika Korps, 1941-43" Topic

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774 hits since 21 Mar 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2020 10:40 p.m. PST

"There is no more evocative phrase to emerge from World War II than Afrika Korps. The name conjures up a unique theater of war, a hauntingly beautiful empty quarter where armies could roam free, liberated from towns and hills, choke points and blocking positions, and especially those pesky civilians. It calls forth a war of near-absolute mobility, where tanks could operate very much like ships at sea, "sailing" where they wished, setting out on bold voyages hundreds of miles into the deep desert, then looping around the enemy flank and emerging like pirates of old to deal devastating blows to an unsuspecting foe. Finally, it implies a bold hero, in this case Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, a noble commander who fought the good fight, who hated Hitler and everything he stood for, and who couldn't have been farther away from our stereotyped image of the Nazi fanatic. Everything about him attracts us--the manly poses, the out-of-central-casting good looks, even the goggles perched just so. Placing Rommel and his elite Afrika Korps to the fore allows us to view the desert war as a clean fight against a morally worthy opponent. It was war, yes, but almost uniquely in World War II, it was a "war without hate."…"
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stecal Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2020 5:46 a.m. PST

interesting read

Skeets Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2020 7:40 a.m. PST

The image was also helped due to the fact that there was no SS in North Afrika and Rommel has his own "press corps".

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2020 8:21 a.m. PST

Agree with Skeets. If the SS would have been there would have been just like any other theater..

Legion 422 Mar 2020 9:02 a.m. PST

Yes, very interesting. The WWII NA Campaign is one of my favorite areas of study.

No SS in North Afrika … Yes Rommel wanted none to be in the DAK.

SS fought in North Africa? the answer is no. Rommel wanted to keep the Waffen-SS out of North Africa. Although some Enitzgruppen commandos (part of the Greater SS or the Allegmeine-SS) worked in Tunisia and in Libya and rounded up Jews to be sent back to Europe for extermination.

But …

The Nazis established seventeen (17) slave labor camps were located in North Africa: three in Morocco, three in Algeria, seven in Tunisia and four in Libya.
Jews were interned in the slave labor camp at Hadjerat-M'Guil, in North Africa. Some of the 170 prisoners were tortured and murdered. Other internees worked on the Trans-Sahara railway.

Also …

There was a small SS/SD Einsatzkommando Tunis to control the French police and to eliminate spy networks, black marketeers, etc.

So …

donlowry22 Mar 2020 9:05 a.m. PST

who hated Hitler and everything he stood for

Whatever gave them that idea?

Blutarski22 Mar 2020 10:19 a.m. PST

Hi L4,
Did Rommel have command authority/responsibility over any of that?


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Mar 2020 3:25 p.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile)


4th Cuirassier23 Mar 2020 2:40 a.m. PST


Read on. "It's an attractive image all around, and it is unfortunate that practically all of it is false."

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2020 3:03 a.m. PST

I thought this very well thought out and written.

In truth it is more a critique of Rommel's leadership (even then only as a senior Army level commander) than of the Afrika Korps itself. Most authors will concede that the German infantryman, almost anywhere, was second to none in WWII. Lots of reasons for the superiority, most of them thoroughly unpleasant and the very reason our ancestors fought, but man for man, they were good at what they did.

Legion 423 Mar 2020 8:25 a.m. PST

Did Rommel have command authority/responsibility over any of that?
AFAIK no he had nothing to do with any of that. He was more concerned with fighting a war. Than generally wasting assets to run concentration camps, using troops, weapons, railroad, trucks, etc. That could have been much better used on fighting.

None the less, the horrible history of the German atrocities with the camps, slave labor, etc., etc., will haunt humanity for a very long time. There is nothing anyone can say to justify, excuse, etc. all those hellish actions the Germans under Nazi rule committed.

Most authors will concede that the German infantryman, almost anywhere, was second to none in WWII
I agree especially in the early years of the war. And the DAK was just a good example of that.

Of course part of their early successes was not only their high quality of their Infantry. But they mastered combined arms warfare, where at the same time the other forces they encountered were still "learning". Even if the understood it, they couldn't execute it in the field like the Germans. Until later in the war … After suffering many losses before that.

The German Infantry, Panzers, FA and CAS working together revolutionized warfare. And some of that combined arms doctrine is still generally used today. By many armies in many situations.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2020 12:21 p.m. PST

Glad you like it too my good friend!. (smile)


Blutarski23 Mar 2020 1:27 p.m. PST

With all due respect paid to the performance of the German soldier in battle, it should be pointed out that the majority of the Axis manpower as well as a very substantial share of the tanks, artillery and aircraft in the Libyan campaign were Italian.

I find this "Rommel was overrated" story line very difficult to swallow. Overrated compared to what?


Marcus Brutus Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2020 8:04 p.m. PST

We had a similar discussion several months back.

TMP link

I am not going to go over the material again. The above article is full of half truths and misrepresentations and distorts Rommel's record in France and North Africa.

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