- German Instrument of Surrender
The German Instrument of Surrender was the
legal instrumentby which the High Command of the German Armed Forces surrendered simultaneously to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force and to the Soviet High Command at the end of World War II in Europe.
Before the main body of the German military surrendered, there were partial surrenders of components of the German military. The first was the "Instrument of Local Surrender of German and Other Forces Under the Command or Control of the German Commander-In-Chief Southwest" signed on April 29, 1945 at 1400 hours. It was signed in
Caserta, Italy, and the main body of the agreement was effective on April 29, 1945. The appendices were effective May 2, 1945. It was signed for the Germans by Victor van Schweintz, Lieutenant Colonel in the General Staff of Army Group C, for Colonel General von Vietinghoff-Scheel, Commander-in-Chief Southwest and Commander-in-Chief of Army Group C and Eugen Wenner, SS-Sturmbannfuhrer and Major in the Waffen-SS, for SS-Obergruppenfuhrer and General of the Waffen-SS Wolff,Supreme Commander of SS and Police and plenipotentiary General of the German Wehrmacht in Italy. It was signed for the Allies by W. D. Morgan, Lieutenant General, Chief of Staff, for Field Marshal The Honourable Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander, Supreme Allied Commander of the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations. [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/gs9.htm "Instrument of Local Surrender of German and Other Forces Under the Command or Control of the German Commander-In-Chief Southwest"] , April 29, 1945, The Avalon Project, Yale University Law School, © 1996-2007, The Lillian Goldman Law Library in Memory of Sol Goldman.]
In early May
Karl Dönitz, newly elevated to "Reichspräsident" following Hitler's death, dispatched Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg(his replacement as head of the Kriegsmarine) to negotiate a partial surrender with the western allies. Von Friedeburg and Kriegsmarine staff officer Konteradmiral Gerhard Wagner met British Field MarshalBernard Montgomery at the 21st Army Group's temporary tented HQ on Lüneburg Heath. Montgomery demanded that all German forces facing 21AG surrender, and on May 4, 1945 at 1830 hours the "Instrument of Surrender of all German Armed Forces in Holland, in Northwest Germany Including all Islands, and in Denmark" was signed (by Montgomery, von Friedeburg, Wagner, and German officers Kinsel, Poeeck, and Friedel). [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/gs10.htm "Instrument of Surrender of all German Armed Forces in Holland, in Northwest Germany Including all Islands, and in Denmark"] , May 4, 1945, The Avalon Project, Yale University Law School, © 1996-2007, The Lillian Goldman Law Library in Memory of Sol Goldman.] "The Royal Navy and German Naval Disarmament, 1942-1947", Chris Madsen, pub. Taylor & Francis, 1998 ISBN 0714643734]
Alfred Jodlsigning the capitulation papers in Rheims.] The main "Instrument of Surrender" was signed at Rheims, France, at 02:41 hours on 7 May 1945. The signing took place in a red brick schoolhouse that served as the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4497947.stm "I remember the German surrender"] , Kathryn Westcott, BBC News, May 4, 2005.] It was to take effect at 2301 hours Central European time on 8 May, 1945. [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/gs3.htm "Act of Military Surrender Signed at Rheims at 0241 on the 7th day of May, 1945"] , The Avalon Project, Yale University Law School, © 1996-2007, The Lillian Goldman Law Library in Memory of Sol Goldman.]
unconditional surrenderof the German armed forces was signed by "Generaloberst" Alfred Jodl, on behalf of the " Oberkommando der Wehrmacht" (German language: High Command of armed forces) and as the representative for the new Reich President, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. Walter Bedell Smithsigned on behalf of the Western allies, and Ivan Sousloparovon behalf of the Soviets. French general François Sevezsigned as the official witness.
This "Instrument of Surrender" applied to all military forces on land, at sea, and in the air who were at that point of time under the control of the "Oberkommando der Wehrmacht" (OKW). Although the military commanders of most German forces obeyed the order to surrender issued by the German Armed Forces High Command not all commanders did so. According to the report of Germany's Deutsche Welle of May 8, 2005, the situation with this first "Instrument of Surrender" was similar to German surrender in the World War 1, where in November of 1918 the surrender treaty was signed by a civilian politician and a relatively unknown general. German Field Marshal Hindenburg could thus declare thereafter that the German army didn't really capitulate, and troops continued fighting. In Reims, the treaty was signed by a mere general, Colonel Alfred Jodl, without the authoritative presence of a commander-in-chief. That wasn't enough for the Allies who still had bitter memories of the signing of the ceasefire at the end of the First World War. The personal signature of the German commander in chief, Field Marshal Keitel, was thus important to the Allies to avoid a repeat of any further such "revolution" and "betrayal" legends. [Deuche Welle, May 8, 2005, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1577141,00.html]
The German Instrument of Surrender used by
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forceat Rheims was modeled on the one used a few days earlier to allow the German forces in Italy to surrender.cite book| url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_index.htm| title=The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946| first=Earl F.| last=Ziemke| publisher=Center of Military History United States Army| location=Washington, D. C.| year=1990| id=Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-619027| pages=256 First Printed 1975-CMH Pub 30-6] They did not use the one which had been drafted for the surrender of Germany by the " European Advisory Commission" (EAC).
This created a legal problem for the Allies, because although the German armed forces had surrendered unconditionally, the "civilian" German government had not been included in the surrender. This was considered a very important issue, given that Hitler had used the surrender of the civilian government, but "not" of the military, in 1918, to create the "stab in the back" argument.cite book| title=The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946| pages=109] The Allies understandably did not want to give any future hostile German regime any kind of legal argument to resurrect an old quarrel. Eventually they decided not to recognise president of Germany
Karl Dönitz, but to sign a four power document instead, creating the Allied Control Council.
The largest contingent not to surrender in accordance with the capitulation treaty were
Army Group Centreunder the command of Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörnerwho had been promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Army on April 30in Hitler's last will and testament. On May 8, Schörner deserted his command and flew to Austria and the Soviet Army sent an overwhelming force against Army Group Centrein the Prague Offensiveforcing all German units in Army Group Centre to capitulate by May 11[Earl F. Ziemke, "Battle for Berlin: end of the Third Reich", p. 134. In: A.J.P Taylor: "The Second World War", p. 223.] (Soviet troops entered Prague on 9 May). Pursuant to this "Instrument of Surrender", the German High Command issued orders to all forces under its command to cease active operations at exactly 23:01 hours Central European Timeof May 8 1945. [As it was summer, this was probably 0001, 9 Maylocal German summer time.fact|date=March 2007 During the summers of World War II, Britain was on British Double Summer Timewhich meant that the country was ahead of CET time by one hour. This means that the surrender time in the UK was "effective from 0001 hours on 9 May". [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/apr45.html RAF Site Diary 7/8 May] ] Thus, this "Instrument of Surrender" legalized unconditional surrender of all armed forces under the German High Command, officially ending combatin Europe.
Soviet Union's only representative in Rheims was General Ivan Susloparov, the Military Liaison Mission Commander. General Susloparov's scope of authority was not entirely clear, and he had no means of immediate contact with the Kremlin, but nevertheless decided to risk signing for the Soviet side. However, he noted that it could be replaced with a new version in the future. [Article 4 of the Rheims surrender document stated that "This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to GERMANY and the German armed forces as a whole."] Stalinwas indeed displeased by these events. He believed that the German surrender should have been accepted only by the envoy of the USSR Supreme command, and insisted the Rheims protocol be considered preliminary, with the main ceremony to be held in Berlin, where Marshal Zhukov was at the time. [Memoirs of Georgy Zhukov p.??]
Another Act of Military Surrender was signed, shortly before midnight, on
May 8[Earl F. Ziemke References [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_ch15.htm#b3 CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed] Page 258 last paragraph] in the outskirts of Berlin, Germany, at the insistence of the Soviets. The signing ceremony took place in a villa in an eastern suburb of Berlincalled Karlshorst, where the German Russian Museumis located today. [http://www.museum-karlshorst.de/] The representatives of the USSR, the United Kingdom, France and the United States arrived shortly before midnight. After Zhukov opened the ceremony, the German command representatives headed by Wilhelm Keitelwere invited into the room, where they signed the final German Act of Unconditional Surrender entering into force at 23:01 Central European Time.
Soviet Union: Marshal Georgy Zhukovon behalf of the Supreme High Command of the Red Army
United Kingdom: Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, Marshal of the Royal Air ForceArthur William Tedder
United States: General Carl Spaatz, Commanding United States Strategic Air Forces
France: General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Commanding First French Army
Hans-Georg von Friedeburgas Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine
Hans-Jürgen Stumpffas the representative of the Luftwaffe
** Field Marshal
Wilhelm Keitelas the Chief of Staff of the "Oberkommando der Wehrmacht"
Soviet Union did not allow the participation of
Karl Dönitzcontinued to act as head of state, but his Flensburg government(so-called because it was based at Flensburgand controlled only a small area around the town) was not recognised by the Allied powers and was dissolved when its members were captured and arrested by British forces on May 23, 1945at Flensburg. The Allies had a problem, because they realised that although the German armed forces had surrendered unconditionally, the civilian German government had in fact not, SHAEFhaving failed to use the document created by the " European Advisory Commission" (EAC). This was considered a very important issue, because just as the civilian, but not military, surrender in 1918 had been used to create the " stab in the back" myth that Hitler exploited, the Allies did not want to give a future hostile German regime a legal argument to resurrect an old quarrel. Eventually they decided not to recognise Dönitz's Government and to sign a four-power document instead, creating the Allied Control Councilwhich included the following:
:The Governments of the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom, and the Provisional Government of the French Republic, hereby assume supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German Government, the High Command and any state, municipal, or local government or authority. The assumption, for the purposes stated above, of the said authority and powers does not effect the annexation of Germany. [US Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1520.] [ [http://images.library.wisc.edu/History/EFacs/GerRecon/BackgrndDocs/M/0027.jpgA scanned image of the relevant page of the agreement] ] [Earl F. Ziemke References [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_ch15.htm#b3 CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed] Page 263 first paragraph. The verb "effect" is misquoted here as "affect"; see the previous footnote for a scan showing the correct wording.]
5 July 1945the four-powers signed the document in Berlin and the " de facto" became the " de jure". [Earl F. Ziemke References [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_ch15.htm#b3 CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed] Page 263] This imposition was in line with Article 4 of the Instrument of Surrender that had been included so that the EAC document, or something similar, could be imposed on the Germans after the military surrender. Article 4 stated that "This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to Germany and the German armed forces as a whole." [Earl F. Ziemke References [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_ch15.htm#b3 CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed] Page 258]
In July/August 1945 the Allied leaders planned the new postwar German government, changed territory boundaries, ordered German demilitarization (de-industrialisation),
denazificationand settlements of war reparationsat the Potsdam Conference.
End of World War II in Europe
Paris Peace Treaties, 1947, formally established peace between the World War II Allies and the nations of Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Finland
Japanese Instrument of Surrender
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
* Earl F. Ziemke " [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_index.htm#contents The U.S. Army in the occupation of Germany 1944-1946] " Cenrer of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D. C., 1990, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-619027
* The Memoirs of Georgy Zhukov. [http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/zhukov1/22.html Chapter 22: Unconditional Surrender of Nazi Germany] ru icon
* [http://www.historicaldocuments.com/GermanySurrender.htm History Documents: "Surrender of Germany (1945)"] (photos, refs)
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