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The instrument of surrender signed at Reims May 7, 1945.
The German Instrument of Surrender was the legal instrument that established the armistice ending World War II in Europe. It was signed by representatives of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the Allied Expeditionary Force and Sovietmarker High Command on May 7 and May 8, 1945. The date is known in the West as Victory in Europe Day.

There were three language versions of the surrender document. The English and Russian versions were the only authoritative ones. The English version was typed by Susan Hibbert.

Surrender ceremony

The Instrument of Surrender was signed at Rheimsmarker, Francemarker, 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). It was to take effect at 2301 hours Central European time on 8 May, 1945.

The unconditional surrender of 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 Smith signed on behalf of the Western allies, and Ivan Susloparov on behalf of the Soviets. French major general François Sevez signed as the official witness.

Although this act of surrender was recognized by all parties as binding, it was nevertheless followed by an act of ratification on May 8, which was agreed at the time of the May 7 signing (see text below). Only during the Cold War was the first surrender in Rheims hushed up or reduced to a preparatory protocol.UNDERTAKING



It is agreed by the German emissaries

undersigned that the following German officers will

arrive at a place and time designated by the Supreme

Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, and the Soviet

High Comand prepared, with plenary powers, to execute

a formal ratification on behalf of the German High

Command of this act of Unconditional Surrender of the

German armed forces.

Chief of the High Command
Commander-in-Chief of the Army
Commander-in-Chief of the Navy
Commander-in-Chief of the Air Forces.



Representing the German High Command

DATED 0241 7th May 1945

Rheims, France

Berlin ceremony

A second Act of Military Surrender was signed shortly after midnight Central European time on May 8 at the seat of the Soviet Military Administration in Berlinmarker-Karlshorstmarker, now the location of the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorstmarker. [105903].

This ratification was a response to both Soviet and British concerns. The Soviets desired a signature in the presence of the Soviet Supreme Commander (Major General Susloparov, who had accepted the May 7 surrender for the Soviets, was only liaison officer at the Western Headquarters). The British wanted the surrender to be signed by the highest military and civilian representatives of the German Reich, in order to avoid a repeat of the "stab in the back" legend which had been cultivated by the Germans after World War I because the armistice had been signed only by a civilian politician and an unknown general. (Jodl, who signed in Rheims, was an officer without the power of command). Since the Dönitz led government based in Flensburg was not recognized , it was agreed to have the May 7 act ratified with the signatures of the commanders in chief of the Wehrmacht, army, air force and marines, who were brought to Karlshorst, the seat of the Soviet Supreme Commander. The representatives of the Western Headquarters, the United Kingdom, France and the United States entered the dining room of the officers' mess in Karlshorst shortly before midnight. The German delegation, which had been flown in from Flensburg to Tempelhof in a U.S. airplane, entered the room shortly after midnight after Marshal Georgy Zhukov, the Soviet representative, had opened the ceremony. The ratification of the German Act of Unconditional Surrender was signed around 00.15 o'clock, after its regulations had already been in effect for over an hour (23:01 Central European Time).


Text of the Instrument of Surrender (Rheims)

Text of the Instrument of Surrender (Berlin)

See also



  1. I remember the German surrender, Kathryn Westcott, BBC News, May 4, 2005.
  2. 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.
  3. Earl F. Ziemke References CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258 last paragraph

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