Germany tries to emulate the US and France by naming its airports after esteemed politicians. Berlin has already called its yet-to-be-opened new airport Willy Brandt, after the former Chancellor. Now Stuttgart wants to follow suit and call its airport “Rommel”.
Not surprisingly the idea has created a stir. For Stuttgart residents, the name Rommel is synonymous with the city’s late mayor, Manfred Rommel, the son of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox” of Second World War fame.
Manfred was renowned throughout Germany for his liberal views. “He stood for reconciliation,” is how Stuttgart’s current mayor, Fritz Kuhn, described him.
Civic leaders voted to name the airport “Rommel” but they have been deluged with complaints from objectors who fear that most foreigners will think of the field marshal when they hear the name. “I would be utterly ashamed to visit friends in Israel with the name Rommel on my suitcase tag,” wrote one.
Field Marshal Rommel was forced to commit suicide by the Nazis, who suspected him of plotting to assassinate Hitler. He is considered by many to have been one of the few “decent” Nazi generals. But new evidence suggests he committed war crimes. Stuttgart will decide in June whether to go ahead with the name.