Written by Ivan Edwards
Ever put a quote in your essay without knowing any of the context?
We all have at some point, and it turns out the University of Exeter’s Career Zone are no different, after a recent email blast to students featured an inspirational quote about seizing opportunities – the quotee being a former Nazi general.
A message sent on 4th June featured the quote, “One cannot permit unique opportunities to slip by for the sake of trifles”, attributed to Erwin Rommel and placed on a scenic sunset background, followed by careers information and job openings.
Unfortunately for the Career Zone, Rommel was one of the most famous German commanders of the Second World War. He led the North African campaign of 1941-3 in which the Germans won surprise victories against the allies.
The “trifles” quote came during a dispute with his Italian counterpart Ito Garibaldi, as Rommel argued for an aggressive strategy to take as many Libyan cities as possible. There would be 220,000 British casualties by the end of the North African campaign.
However, Rommel’s commitment to Nazi ideology continues to be debated by historians today. He had served as commander of Hitler’s personal bodyguard and would have been aware of clandestine Nazi missions. However, he died after being accused of involvement in a plot to kill Hitler, when it was clear the War was lost.
A member of the University’s social media team commented on a Facebook post, by a student highlighting who they had quoted. Her response was this: “We have spoken with our careers team. We understand that this quote was chosen from the website Quotefancy and the person who selected it did not recognise the name. We apologise unreservedly and will put processes in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
It is evident that there was no malicious intent in choosing the quote, and this was merely an unfortunate error. With so many aesthetic inspirational quotes (with so many sunsets) floating around on the internet, perhaps it is inevitable that one day you will accidentally pay tribute to some unsavoury character.
More recent emails from the Career Zone have returned to safer ground, with this message from American author Og Mandino: “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.”
And if that doesn’t get you applying for internships, nothing will.