THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Germany Surrenders to Allied Forces in France on May 7, 1945

By  //  May 7, 2023

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ABOVE VIDEO: On May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France, ending its role in World War II.

(THIS DAY IN HISTORY) – 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.

General Alfred Jodl, Chief of Staff of the German Army, signed three other surrender documents at the same time, one each for Great Britain, Russia, and France.

Present were representatives of the four Allied Powers – France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States – and the three German officers delegated by German President Karl Doenitz. These were: Gen. Alfred Jodl, who alone had 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. Eisenhower 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 alterations, 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. But the Berlin document had few significant changes from the one signed a day earlier at Reims.