Some visitors landing in the German city of Stuttgart may soon feel slightly uncomfortable, as authorities plan to rename the local airport after Manfred Rommel, the son of Nazi general Erwin “Desert Fox” Rommel.
Manfred Rommel served as the mayor of Stuttgart for 22 years. He died last November at the age of 84.
The decision to rename the airport was met with a barrage of criticism both in Germany and abroad, with many expressing fear that the site will be mistakenly associated with Rommel’s father.
Erwin Rommel, who is most famously known for commanding the Afrika Korps in the Wehrmacht’s North African campaign during World War II, is regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most skilled tacticians.
During the war, his corps managed to advance all the way up to Egypt, only several hundred miles from the pyramids. It was finally blocked by Allied forces in El Alamein.
In 1944, following his involvement in a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Rommel was forced to commit suicide. His son Manfred was 15 at the time.
Stuttgart’s current mayor, Fritz Kuhn, defended the decision to rename the airport.
He described Manfred Rommel as someone who stood “more than anyone else, for tolerance, reconciliation and an open world,” according to the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten.
“His liberal stance was always paired with his efforts to build bridges out into the world,” he added.
“It is these international works that convinced us to name the airport after him.”
Stuttgart authorities attempted to quell the controversy.
They said they would probably name the airport “Manfred Rommel” or “Mayor Rommel” in order to avoid unnecessary confusion.