Manfred Rommel

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Manfred Rommel
Manfred-rommel-2004.jpg
Manfred Rommel in 2004
Lord Mayor of Stuttgart
In office
1974–1996
Preceded by Arnulf Klett
Succeeded by Wolfgang Schuster
Personal details
Born (1928-12-24)24 December 1928
Stuttgart, Weimar Republic, Germany
Died 7 November 2013(2013-11-07) (aged 84)
Stuttgart, Germany
Political party Christian Democratic Union
Spouse(s) Liselotte (1954-2013 his death)
Children Cathrine
Occupation Lawyer

Manfred Rommel CBE (24 December 1928 – 7 November 2013) was a German politician belonging to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who served as Lord Mayor of Stuttgart from 1974 until 1996. He was the only son of Erwin Rommel and his wife Lucia Maria Mollin.

Background and family[edit]

Rommel was born in Stuttgart and entered service as a Luftwaffenhelfer (Air Force assistant) at age 14, serving in an anti-aircraft battery. He considered joining the Waffen SS, but his father opposed it. On 14 October 1944, he was present at his parents’ house when his father was led off and forced to commit suicide for his alleged complicity in the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, which was publicly portrayed by the Nazi leadership as a death resulting from a war injury.[1] In February 1945, Rommel was dismissed from Air Force service and in March 1945 he was conscripted to the paramilitary Reichsarbeitsdienst service. Being in the town of Riedlingen by the end of April, immediately before the French First Army taking over, he deserted. He was taken prisoner of war, disclosed the truth about his father’s death and was interrogated by General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.[2]

In 1947, he took his Abitur while studying in Biberach an der Riß and went on to study law at the University of Tübingen.

He married Liselotte in 1954 and had a daughter named Catherine.[3]

While Oberbürgermeister of Stuttgart, Rommel began a much-publicised friendship with U.S. Army Major General George S. Patton IV, the son of his father's World War II adversary, George S. Patton, who was assigned to the VII Corps headquarters near the city.[4][5] Additionally, he was also friends with David Montgomery, 2nd Viscount Montgomery of Alamein the son of his father's other great adversary, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, a friendship viewed by some as a symbol of British-German reconciliation following the War and West Germany's admission into NATO.[6]

Career[edit]

After a stint working as a lawyer, in 1956, Rommel entered the civil service and later became state secretary in the state government of Baden-Württemberg.

In 1974, Rommel succeeded Arnulf Klett as Oberbürgermeister (equivalent to Mayor) of Stuttgart by winning 58.5% of the votes in the second round of elections, defeating Peter Conradi of the SPD. He was re-elected after the first round of elections in 1982 with 69.8% and in 1990 with 71.7% of the votes. As the mayor of Stuttgart, he was also known for his effort to give the Red Army Faction terrorists who had committed suicide at the Stuttgart-Stammheim prison a proper burial, despite the concern that the graves would become a pilgrimage point for radical leftists.[7]

In a 1996 celebration at the Württemberg State Theatre, Manfred Rommel received the highest German civil distinction, the Bundesverdienstkreuz. In his speech, Helmut Kohl put particular emphasis on the good relations that were kept and built upon between France and Germany during Rommel's tenure as Oberbürgermeister of Stuttgart. A few days after this distinction was given to Rommel, the city of Stuttgart offered him the Honorary Citizen Award.[8] He also risked his popularity when he stood out for the fair treatment of foreign immigrants, who were being drawn to Stuttgart, by its booming economy.[9] As mayor, Rommel also exerted a "tight control over the city's finances, reducing its debt and enabling a radical makeover of the local infrastructure, especially roads and public transport [while working]...to foster Franco- German relations."[9]

Outside politics[edit]

Having retired from politics in 1996, Rommel was still in demand as an author and stirring speaker, despite suffering from Parkinson's disease. He wrote various political and humorous books. He was known for his down-to-earth and often funny sayings and quotations. Occasionally, he wrote articles for the Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Rommel collaborated with Basil Liddell-Hart in the publication of The Rommel Papers, a collection of diaries, letters and notes that his father wrote during and after his military campaigns. He was awarded several foreign awards including the CBE, the French légion d'honneur, the US medal of freedom and the highest grade of the German federal order of merit.[9]

Honours[edit]

Manfred Rommel once wrote about his many honours: "Die Zahl der Titel will nicht enden. Am Grabstein stehet: bitte wenden!" which translates as: "The number of honours seems to be endless. The inscription on my gravestone will read: Please turn over!"[3]

  • Theodor-Heuss-Medaille (1978)
  • Orden des Großoffiziers im Orden von Oranien-Nassau (1982)
  • Ehrensenator der Fachhochschule für Technik Stuttgart (1982)
  • Honorary doctorate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (1983)
  • General Lucius D. Clay-Medaille (1984)
  • President of the Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gesellschaft (1984–1990)
  • Chevalier of the Legion of Honour of the French Republic (1985)
  • Guardian of Jerusalem (1987)
  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1990)
  • Honorary doctorate of the University of Maryland (1992)
  • Honorary citizen of Stuttgart (1996)
  • Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern und Schulterband des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (1996)
  • Honorary doctorate of the University of Wales (1996)
  • Dolf Sternberger-Preis (1998)
  • Honorary citizen of the University of Stuttgart (2005)[10]
  • Verdienstmedaille des Landes Baden-Württemberg
  • Heinz Herbert Karry-Preis
  • Honorary citizen of Cairo[10]

References[edit]


This article incorporates information from the revision as of 20 January 2007 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.