The biggest stars of the Second World War would be Erwin Rommel and George Patton. Even though they both earned reputation for their lightening war strategy, they were hardly alike in any other ways. Rommel was from a typical middle-class family in Germany. He believed in his talent, enjoyed attention and had great ambition, but he was also good at self-control and had self-discipline. Rommel was a reliable commander to his subordinates.
Patton, on the other hand, was from a rich American family. He liked showing off and coming across as arrogant. He was indecent and wayward, lied and swore. Easygoing people might not have minded him, but he was not the type of person you would want to trust with your life.
According to American military historian Dennis Showalter, German soldiers believed and still believe Patton is a better general than Rommel, and vice versa. Is it because the grass is always greener on the other side? Considering the military is where patriotism always creeps in no matter where you go, it is unusual that they are thought highly of in each other’s countries.
It is true that they both deployed the lightening war strategy, but their approaches were quite different. Rommel advanced quickly after identifying gaps, leaving the enemy no time to think or act. On the other hand, Patton might be a loud show-off, but he was very sly and careful with his strategies. His strategy often involved deceiving the enemy and having short battles after secretly securing enough firepower.
The difference in their approaches may be a result of different circumstances they were in rather than different strategies. This is probably why they are more respected in each other’s countries. Patton fought in Germany and Europe, Germany, while Rommel fought in France and North Africa. They had to make judgment based on what they were given.
This is exactly why they were envied. The first thing one should do when formulating war tactics is to see things from the enemy’s perspective, and this is incredibly difficult.