Surrender of Germany (1945)

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Citation: Act of Military Surrender (Reims) 1944; Records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; Record Group 218; National Archives.
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This instrument of surrender was signed on May 7, 1945, at Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters in Reims by Gen. Alfred Jodl, Chief of Staff of the German Army. At the same time, he signed three other surrender documents, one each for Great Britain, Russia, and France.

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The unconditional surrender of the German Third Reich was signed in the early morning hours of Monday, May 7, 1945 at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) at Reims in northeastern France. Present were representatives of the four Allied Powers—France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States—and the three Germany officers delegated by German President Karl Doenitz—Gen. Alfred Jodl, who had alone been authorized to sign the surrender document; Maj. Wilhelm Oxenius, an aide to Jodl; and Adm. Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, one of the German chief negotiators. Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, SHAEF chief of staff, led the Allied delegation as the representative of General Eisenhower, who had refused to meet with the Germans until the surrender had been accomplished. Other American officers present were Maj. Gen. Harold R. Bull and Gen. Carl Spaatz.

After the signing of the Reims accord, Soviet chief of staff Gen. Alexei Antonov expressed concern to SHAEF that the continued fighting in the east between Germany and the Soviet Union made the Reims surrender look like a separate peace. The Soviet command wanted the Act of Military Surrender, with certain additions and alternations, to be signed at Berlin. To the Soviets, the documents signed at Berlin on May 8, 1945, represented the official, legal surrender of the Third Reich. The Berlin document had few significant changes from the one signed a day earlier at Reims.

For more information, see Milestone Documents in the National Archives, “Germany Surrenders” (Washington: National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1989), pp. 5–6, 8–9.

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