Manfred Rommel, who passed away in 2013, was the general’s only child and was a teenager at home in Herrlingen, Germany when he witnessed the phone call alerting his father that the Normandy invasion was underway.
Erwin Rommel had taken a trip from his headquarters in Normandy, France to be with his wife and Manfred’s mother, on her 50th birthday, which was June 6, 1944. Rommel was responsible for the defense of Western France from an Allied invasion.
Later, young Manfred Rommel also witnessed his father being escorted away from his home by German soldiers, the end result being his father’s forced suicide for his alleged role in the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler.
The documentary, narrated by General David Petraeus, tells the story of what it was like to be the son of German’s most famous WWII soldier. Manfred Rommel also shares his own personal memories of his father, D-Day’s impact on the general and the day his father was forced to take his own life.
The Full Story:
From the NY Times:
Manfred Rommel was his only child. He was 15 when he said goodbye to his father, then watched as two German generals ushered him into a car. The generals had given the field marshal a choice: commit suicide or face a rigged trial on charges of conspiring to kill Hitler. If he chose the trial, they said, they could not promise that his family would be safe.
Field Marshal Rommel was guilty of supporting a plot to kill Hitler, who he had decided was leading Germany to disaster. Within minutes, he bit into a cyanide pill and quickly died. It was Oct. 14, 1944.
Manfred went on to become the three-term mayor of Stuttgart, in southwestern Germany. He became a liberal voice in postwar West Germany, supporting the rights of immigrants, backing civil liberties and strengthening the city’s Jewish population.