German Military Surrender
The outcome of the Second World War was predictable some time before May 1945. The Allies were approaching fast and taking back Nazi-occupied territory; Hitler was dead and the regime’s network of concentration camps was gradually being liberated. German forces had also been surrendering in different parts of Europe: in Berlin on 2 May; in the Netherlands and Denmark on 4 May; and Hermann Göring himself surrendered on 6 May.
Just thirty minutes after the fall of Fortress Breslau, General Alfred Jodl arrived in Reims, France, and offered the surrender of all forces fighting the Western Allies. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, was not satisfied with this arrangement and threatened to break off negotiations unless an unconditional surrender was offered. Jodl relayed this information to Großadmiral Karl Dönitz, whom Hitler had instated as ‘President of Germany’ before he died. Shortly after midnight the following day, Dönitz contacted Jodl to authorise the total surrender of German forces.
The surrender documents were signed by General Jodl at 02:41am on 7 May; the next day, other German officials, such as Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, travelled to Berlin and signed similar documents. News of the end of the war broke on 8 May, and is now known as Victory in Europe (VE) Day.
The Surrender of Nazi Germany
History Learning Site
Photo: General Wilhelm Keitel Signing the Act of Military Surrender (May 8, 1945)
German History in Documents and Images (GHDI)