1944: Funeral for hero Rommel

The state funeral of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took place in Ulm, Germany on this day in 1944.

Popularly known as the Desert Fox, he served as field marshal in the Wehrmacht (armed forces) of Nazi Germany during World War II, as well as serving in the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, and the army of Imperial Germany.

In 1944, Rommel was implicated in the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler. Because of Rommel’s status as a national hero, Hitler desired to eliminate him quietly instead of immediately executing him, as many other plotters were.

Rommel was given a choice between committing suicide, in return for assurances that his reputation would remain intact and that his family would not be persecuted following his death, or facing a trial that would result in his disgrace and execution; he chose the former and committed suicide using a cyanide pill.