Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel, the hero of North Africa, fitted perfectly with the cliches of Nazi propaganda. In October 1944, however, Rommel was forced to take his own life, as Hitler was convinced that the 'Desert Fox' was implicated in the July Bomb Plot. Like many of those who surrounded Hitler, Wehrmacht chief of staff Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel was simply too weak to accept where his actions were leading. Instead, he took refuge in obedience without limit.
In January 1943 Friedrich Paulus became the first German field-marshal ever to surrender on the battlefield. Having held Stalingrad for five months against all odds, he defied Hitler and led the remnants of Sixth Army into Russian captivity. He then worked for the Soviets, calling on Germany to surrender. Field-Marshal Erich von Manstein was the architect of the defeat of France in 1940, the greatest triumph in German military history. On military questions Manstein vigorously contradicted the Fuhrer, who suspected his politics and finally dismissed him.
Ernst Udet, the most successful German fighter pilot to survive the First World War, was personally selected by Hitler to build up and equip the Luftwaffe, but all he had ever wanted was to fly. Overwhelmed by his duties, blamed by those around him for German failure in the Battle of Britain and abandoned by his allies, Udet killed himself in November 1941. Finally, no leading figure in Hitler's dictatorship has been surrounded by more mystery than Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of theAbwehr, the Third Reich's foreign intelligence service. Hanged by the SS only days before the war ended, Canaris' last words were: 'I did my duty as a German.'