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 Lieutenant) November 08, 2014

When the German General, Erwin Rommel, landed in Libya during the Second World War he found a strange land almost devoid of life. The majority of the population lived in small towns along the coast where the land was green and rich but where just a few miles inland, the burning desert reigned supreme. The vast open space meant that civilians were largely out of the crossfire and that the battle could be fought “cleanly” (a veritable oxymoron) between professional armies, who to their credit avoided the senseless butchery that marked the other campaigns of the war. Rommel would call this period of his military life, krieg ohne hasse, or “War without Hate,” a period in which he as a soldier conducted a proper war, on purely military terms, on lines of mutual respect.

The high point of Rommel’s North African career revolved around the seaside town of Tobruk, the second city of Eastern Libya’s Cyrenaica province. After the failure of the Italians in 1940 to reach their dream of a new Roman Empire in the Mediterranean, Hitler was forced to send German troops to salvage Axis pride. Rommel’s orders were simple – recapture Cyrenaica and rout the British. The campaign soon captured the imagination of the world, as did the dashing Rommel who became a household name in Germany, England and most of the western world. Tobruk itself became a place of myth, as stories of its cavalierly heroic Allied garrison gained momentum. The myth eventually lost some of its sheen. But the methods that finally overcame the city and ousted the British from Libya would go on to inspire Coalition tactics in the invasion of Iraq during Operation “Desert Storm” half a century later... (see more at:


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