Not My Cup of Tea

Mersa Matrouh & Alamein, Egypt

I understand that a lot of people get pulled into war on one side or the other for geo-political reasons having very little to do with their personalities. They end up fighting for the “wrong” side because it’s the side they identify more strongly with. It doesn’t mean that I can feel great sympathy for Hitler’s famous Field Marshall Rommel. Yes, he fought a “fair” war against Hitler’s explicit orders to, for example, immediately execute all Jewish POWs. I still find it difficult to follow along when the tour guide says that Rommel was a great man.

On our way home from Mersa Matrouh today, we stopped first at the Rommel Museum in Mersa Matrouh itself. The museum has been established in a cave where Rommel had his headquarters for the Battle for Northern Africa, and is filled with personal effects brought to the site by Rommel’s son. The first thing you see when you walk in is a big Nazi flag. I guess I spent too many semesters studying 20th Century German history to take that flag as mere historical fact.

Then we stopped at the Commonwealth Cemetery in Alamein, where the WWII dead of the Commonwealth countries and their allies, including Jordanians and Egyptians, were buried. As mind-boggling as the numbers are of dead and missing from the African Front, I found it hard to register any sort of feeling for the place. Then again, maybe it was just the overbearing heat….

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