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The failed plot of 20 July
Following the failed “20 July Plot” to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb in 1944, a ruthless hunt began for the people involved. Brutal interrogations quickly expanded the dragnet to thousands of people. Around 7000 people were arrested and interrogated. Almost 5000 died in the process, either by execution or during the interrogation. Hitler demanded there would be no mercy for the guilty and that they would be “hanged like cattle”. Many people involved decide to take fate into their own hands, rather then wait for the brutal methods of the Gestapo.
Involvement of Rommel
Multiple confessions also pointed to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, one of Hitler’s most loyal Generals. Some sources claimed that he knew about the plot, others claimed he was even a co-conspirator.
In September 1944 Hitler received a memo of Martin Bormann, summing up all the accounts that pointed into Rommel’s direction. Knowing that the plot came even from members of his inner circle, Hitler took no risk and had Rommel placed under arrest at his home where he was recovering from near fatal injuries to his head. Earlier that year on July 17th, Rommel’s car had been strafed by a Spitfire in France.
Well aware of the fact that Rommel was a national hero, Hitler realized that a public show trail would not be the best approach in this case and decided to give Rommel the option of suicide to save himself and his family a terrible fate. On 14 October 1944, two Generals came to pick up Rommel at his home. Rommel put on his Africa Korps jacket, said farewell to his wife Lucie-Maria and his son Manfred, got into the car with the men and drove off. The car stopped along a quiet country road a few kilometers from his home in Herrlingen. He took a cyanide pill and died sitting in the car. Today the spot is marked by this memorial. Rommel’s grave is located nearby in Herrlingen, Blaustein, Germany.
The translated epitaph on the hatch reads:
Here, on 14.10.1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was forced into suicide! He took the poisoned cup and sacrificed himself, to save the lives of his family from Hitler’s henchmen.
Visit Erwin Rommel Suicide Memorial in Blaustein, Germany
You can find the Rommel Memorial Stone located along the Helfensteinweg about halfway. The path is not accessible by car, so you’ll have to travel by bike or foot. That isn’t a problem though, because the surroundings are beautiful here.