Sunday, June 03, 2012

Part I : A collector ? Me ? Yes, indeed...

I’ve already written upon my interest on History and I mentioned this military man too. 

I am talking about German Feldmarschall Erwin Rommel. I really can’t remember the exact moment when I started to be interested into his career and life, but it’s been quite for a few decades. What I do remember is the speech from my grandfathers, uncles and cousins who fought during the WWII and we were rather appreciative of him.  Their positive attitudes toward a German General made me want to know more about him and his book on military strategy pleased me at once. This is the first book I read from him : “Infantry attacks”. It was so remarkable and fascinating. I asked for more information and my grandparents taught me a few facts, bought me books and I started to learn more about him.

Then, when I was 14, I became more interested into the WWII and specifically on the IIIe Reich. It is not a nasty curiosity or even erroneous convictions, but it is just that I wanted to know the facts and how this situation happened. Since I’ve been 10, I’ve wanted to be a forensic to “explain death to the living ones”.  So, I wanted to know any detail of this period to understand (or try to) how humans can be as mean and inhuman as some had been.

I’ve read books, seen films, documents and TV reports, heard stories from soldiers (French, English and German) and even met a few. I just wanted to know more about their reasoning. I read the basic books on IIIe Reich, forbidden books included. I am not supposed to list some here and I won’t because I don’t want this blog to serve as springboard to certain ideologies.

But I read them all to make an opinion.

I think that whenever you want to know and understand a History fact you ought to read any version of it.
Anyhow, the more I learnt about Rommel, the more interested I was. The fact is that I was buying many books and without notice it I’ve kind of started a collection. I have more than 150 books based on, related to or from Rommel. I own first editions, second hand book and mainly hard covers. I just think that this collection is one of the most surprising I’ve made. I also have some original photos, and objects. Most of them I’ve been bought in bookshops or from Internet. Some had been given to me after a soldier’s death. I met him twice and he wanted me to get his military papers and photos. I was quite sorry for his family but they didn’t want the souvenirs anymore. So, I kept them.

As for Rommel, my grandmother (mom’s side) saw him a couple of times in 1944 before the D Day while he inspected the defense lines on the Channel French coasts. She was living in the “forbidden” area close to Mers Les Bains (Somme). I guess that many times people told me that he had an aura. His soldiers were appreciative of him, but his enemies too. A British soldier told me that he was respected on the battlefield because he was along with his men and never ran back toward the enemies. It is most likely why I like this character.

I based my final dissertation on him and the analysis of his Infantry book. The fact that I am interested into Rommel doesn’t mean that I agree with the actions he did or the speeches he said. It is just that inquisitiveness about a part of History.