Alternative – 70th Anniversary of D-Day
June 6, 2014
Eleven days after the D-Day landing on June 6, 1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was driven to Adolf Hitler’s headquarters.
By Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Hitler either didn’t believe what was happening, or he didn’t understand the implications. I was determined to explain matters face to face. So was Field Marshal Rundstedt. We repeatedly urged Hitler to meet us. Eventually, he agreed. I was not informed until three a.m. on June seventeenth. At nine o’clock that morning I arrived at headquarters northwest of Paris, near Soissons, where a cold man waited for us. After shaking hands Hitler sat on a stool. Pallid and bent, he looked like a cadaver.
“Mein Fuehrer,” I said. “The enemy has poured several hundred thousand men into his beachhead the last ten days.”
“That’s outrageous,” he said. “You generals have undermined me again. You’ve ruined everything. The Atlantic Wall should have been impenetrable. I need better commanders.”
“You need to acknowledge the situation,” I said, standing over the stool. Rundstedt was nearby. “The enemy has overwhelming superiority in the air.”
“I’ll soon wipe his planes from the skies with my new jets, the only operational jets in the history of the world.”
“Even if this is possible, it won’t diminish the enemy’s vast superiority in manpower and ships and supplies. Our capabilities, by comparison, are very modest and completely inadequate.”
“My V-1’s are ready. Attacks have already started. London’s going to be annihilated by flying bombs. Then Britain will beg for peace.”
“If these flying bombs really are revolutionary, then they must be turned against the invasion beaches,” I said. “If it’s technically impossible to send them such a short distance, then they must be fired at the invasion ports in England.”
“I expect that kind of small-mindedness from the military. Obviously, a miracle weapon can only be used for political purposes. That means attacking London.”
At this moment, as usual, it was we who were being attacked, so we descended deep into Hitler’s bombproof bunker. He spent far too much time inside, too well protected from the outside.
“Mein Fuehrer,” I said, “Field Marshal Rundstedt supports me fully.”
Rundstedt sternly nodded.
“I have the professional responsibility to tell you that our defenses in the West are certain to collapse,” I said. “Furthermore, the Russians are continuing to advance in the East. Our defenses in Italy are also in trouble. And our cities and factories are every day hammered from the air. We’re being destroyed, Mein Fuehrer. You must make peace.”
“Don’t concern yourself with the future of the war. Take care of your own invasion front.”
After this Rundstedt and I were invited to dine with the Fuehrer. While he gobbled a horde of medications deployed around his plate, two SS officers tasted his food. When he saw they weren’t going to die, the Fuehrer began to eat.