Captain Hermann Aldinger on the day of Fieldmarshal Erwin Rommel's death

"The Rommel Papers" (1953)

Pgs. 207-212

October 13, 1944

"On October 13th came a telephone call from headquarters of War District 5 at Stuttgart. Rommel and Aldinger were out and a soldier servant took the call. He was told to inform Fieldmarshal Rommel that General Burgdorf and General Maisel would arrive at Herrlingen next day at noon. When Rommel received the message he said very little. To Aldinger he remarked that the two generals were doubtless coming to talk to him about the invasion or about a new job. For the rest of the day he was unusually silent."

"At noon precisely General Burgdorf arrived with General Maisel and a Major Ehrenberger, another Ordonnanzoffizier. They came in a small green car. The driver wore a black uniform of the S.S. The two generals shook hands with Rommel. Frau (Mrs.) Rommel, Manfred, and Aldinger were introduced. After a moment General Burgdorf said that he wished to speak to the Fieldmarshal (Rommel) alone. Frau Rommel went upstairs to her room. Rommel led Burgdorf into a downstairs room and Maisel followed. As they moved away, Rommel turned to Aldinger to prepare his file of his orders and situation reports issued during the Normandy fighting, for he suspected that he was to be interrogated about the invasion. Aldinger's file was, of course, in order and he remained talking to Major Ehrenberger outside the front door while Manfred went upstairs to continue coloring some maps for his father. It was nearly an hour later that General Maisel came out. He was followed after a minute or two by General Burgdorf. Rommel was not with them. He had gone upstairs to his wife."

"As he was taking leave of his wife, Manfred entered the room cheerfully, to see what had become of his father. The generals were waiting for him. Rommel said good-bye to his son also. Then he turned and went into the room next door. Manfred followed at his heels. Rommel called for his soldier servant and sent him to find Aldinger. To Aldinger he explained what was in store for him. He was now quite calm but Aldinger could hear Frau Rommel sobbing in her room. Aldinger was not disposed to take it like this. "I told him", he said, "that he must at least make an escape. Why could we not try to shoot our way out together ?", asked Aldinger. "We have been in as bad places before and got away." "It's not good, my friend", he said, "this is it ! All the streets are blocked with S.S. cars and the Gestapo are all around the house. We could never get back to the troops. They've taken over the telephone. I cannot even ring up my headquarters." Aldinger said we could at least shoot Burgdorf and Maisel. "No", said Rommel, "they have their orders. I have Manfred and my wife to think of". Then he told me that he had been promised that no harm should come of them if he took the first choice. A pension would be paid. He was to be given a state funeral. He would be buried at home in Herrlingen. "I have spoken to my wife and made up my mind..", he said, "I will never allow myself to be hanged by that man, Hitler !! I planned no murder. I only tried to serve my country, as I have done all my life, but now this is what I must do. In about half an hour there will come a telephone call from Ulm to say that I have had an accident and am dead".

"Having taken his decision, Rommel went upstairs with Manfred and Aldinger. The generals were looking at the garden. They came over to the car and Rommel got in first into the back seat. Burgdorf and Maisel followed him. Major Ehrenberger had already left to make the arrangements."

"Twenty-five minutes later the telephone rang. Aldinger answered it. It was Major Ehrenberger, speaking from Ulm. "Aldinger", he said, "a terrible thing has happened, Fieldmarshal Rommel has had a hemmorhage, a brain storm, in the car !! He is dead !! " Aldinger did not reply. Did you hear what I said", asked Ehrenberger. "Yes", said Aldinger, "I heard." "Then please tell Frau (Mrs.) Rommel that I am coming back to the house at once." Aldinger walked slowly upstairs to Rommel's widow. He had no need to speak.

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