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Alfred Jodl (10 May 1890 ‚Äď 16 October 1946) was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel. At Nurembergmarker he was tried, sentenced to death and hanged as a war criminal.

Early life

Jodl was born Alfred Josef Ferdinand Baumg√§rtler in W√ľrzburgmarker, Germanymarker, the son of Officer Alfred Jodl and Therese Baumg√§rtler, becoming "Alfred Jodl" upon his parents' marriage in 1899. He was educated at Cadet School in Munichmarker, from which he graduated in 1910.

After schooling, Jodl joined the army as an artillery officer. During World War I he served as a battery officer on the Western Front from 1914‚Äď1916, twice being wounded. In 1917 Jodl served briefly on the Eastern Front before returning to the west as a staff officer. After the war Jodl remained in the armed forces and joined the Versailles-limited Reichswehr.

Jodl had married Irma Gräfin von Bullion, a woman five years his senior from an aristocratic Swabian family, in September 1913. She died in Königsberg in the spring of 1943 of pneumonia contracted after major spinal surgery. The following November, Jodl married Luise von Benda, a close family friend.

World War II

Jodl's appointment as a major in the operations branch of the Truppenamt in the Army High Command in the last days of the Weimar Republicmarker put him under command of General Ludwig Beck, who recognised Jodl as "a man with a future", although it was only on September 1939 that Jodl met with Adolf Hitler for the first time. In the build-up to World War II, Jodl was nominally assigned as a Artilleriekommandeur of the 44th Division from October 1938 to August 1939 during the Anschluss, but from then until the end of the war in May 1945 he was Chef des Wehrmachtsf√ľhrungsstabes (Chief of Operation Staff OKW).Jodl acted as a Chief of Staff during the swift occupation of Denmarkmarker and Norwaymarker. During the campaign, Hitler interfered only when the German destroyer flotilla was demolished outside Narvikmarker and wanted the German forces there to retreat into Swedenmarker. Jodl successfully thwarted Hitler's orders.

Jodl disagreed with Hitler for the second time during the summer offensive of 1942. Hitler dispatched Jodl to the Caucasus to visit Field-Marshal Wilhelm List to find out why the oil fields had not been captured. Jodl returned only to corroborate List's reports that the troops were at their last gasp.

He was injured during the July 20 plot. Due to this, Jodl was awarded the special wounded badge alongside several other leading Nazi figures. He was also rather vocal about his suspicions that others had not endured wounds as strong as his own, often downplaying the effects of the plot on others.

Jodl signed the Commando Order of October 28, 1942 (in which Allied Commandos were not to be treated as POWs) and the Commissar Order of June 6, 1941 (in which Soviet Political Commissioners were to be shot).

At the end of World War II in Europe, Jodl signed the instruments of unconditional surrender on 7 May 1945 in Reimsmarker as the representative of Karl Dönitz.

Trial and execution

Colonel General Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender in Reims on 7 May 1945
The body of Alfred Jodl after being hanged, October 16, 1946
Jodl was arrested and transferred to Flensburgmarker POW camp and later put before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trialsmarker. Jodl was accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. The principal charges against him related to his signature of the Commando Order and the Commissar Order, both of which ordered that certain prisoners were to be summarily executed. Additional charges at his trial included unlawful deportation and abetting execution. Presented as evidence was his signature on an order that transferred Danish citizens, including Jews and other civilians, to concentration camps. Although he denied his role in the crime, the court sustained his complicity based on the given evidence.

His wife Luise attached herself to her husband's defence team. Subsequently interviewed by Gitta Sereny, researching her biography of Albert Speer, Luise alleged that in many instances the Allied prosecution made charges against Jodl based on documents that they refused to share with the defense. Jodl nevertheless proved that some of the charges made against him were untrue, such as the charge that he had helped Hitler gain control of Germany in 1933. He was in one instance aided by a GI clerk who chose to give Luise a document showing that the execution of a group of British commandos in Norwaymarker had been legitimate. The GI warned Luise that if she didn’t copy it immediately she would never see it again; "... it was being 'filed'."Jodl pleaded not guilty "before God, before history and my people". Found guilty on all four charges, he was hanged (with Keitel, on October 16, 1946) although he had asked the court to be executed by firing squad.

Jodl's last words were reportedly "My greetings to you, my Germany." He was declared dead 18 minutes later.

His remains were cremated at Munichmarker, and his ashes raked out and scattered into the Isarmarker River (effectively an attempt to prevent the establishment of a permanent burial site to those nationalist groups who might seek to congregate there‚ÄĒan example of this being Benito Mussolini's grave in Predappiomarker, Italymarker). A cenotaphmarker in the family plot in the Fraueninsel Cemetery, in Chiemseemarker, Germanymarker is dedicated to him.

External links

Portrayal in the media

Alfred Jodl has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions.


  1. Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer His Battle with Truth, p.578. ISBN 0394529154


  • HITLER and HIS GENERALS. Military Conferences 1942-1945, Edited by Helmut Heiber and David M. Glantz. (Enigma Books: New York, 2004. ISBN 1-929631-28-6)
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2004). Eichenlaubtr√§ger 1940 - 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe II Ihlefeld - Primozic (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le M√©rite. ISBN 3-932381-21-1.

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