TEL AVIV (Jun. 16)
Manfred Rommel, son of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox” of World War II, whose Afrika Corps once posed a threat to the Jewish community in Palestine, was designated “Guardian of Jerusalem” at a ceremony at City Hall in the capital Sunday. The 58 year-old Manfred Rommel, Mayor of Stuttgart, West Germany, is on his third visit to Israel. Honored for his activities on behalf of cultural institutions in Jerusalem, he is the 17th foreigner to be made a “Guardian of Jerusalem” and the second West German so designated. The first was publisher Axel Springer.
“If the Afrika Corps had succeeded in taking the Suez Canal, it would have been very difficult for this country and the Jewish population,” Rommel said, adding, “the majority of Germans know today that it was much better to lose the war than to win it with Hitler.”
Rommel’s famous father, regarded by military historians as perhaps the most brilliant general on either side during the war, was forced to take his own life after he was implicated in the German officers’ plot to kill Hitler in 1944.
North African Jews believe it was Rommel who prevented the “Final Solution” from being carried out against them when German might dominated North Africa from Egypt to Morocco.
Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem noted that if the German army had been able to invade Palestine, the fate of the population would not have been in Rommel’s hands.