After the 1943 defeat of the Afrikorps in North Africa, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was recalled to Europe to oversee the defense of the Atlantic coast.

One of Germany’s most successful and popular generals, Rommel soon began to harbor doubts about Adolf Hitler’s reasons for initiating the war and his leadership capabilities in a possible negotiation for peace. After the successful Allied Normandy invasion and subsequent advance across France, Rommel was certain Germany would lose the war.

In June 1944, apparently unaware of an assassination plot against Hitler, Rommel discussed possible surrender with several military men who were subsequently involved in the July assassination attempt. When his communication with the conspirators was revealed, suggesting possible complicity in the plot, he was given the option of suicide instead of a public trial which would taint his reputation and possibly harm his family.

On the October 14, 1944, Erwin Rommel took his own life by biting into a cyanide capsule. He was subsequently given a full military burial.