Germany surrenders

May 7, 1945 Reims

Hitler commited suicide on 30 April 1945. In the following days, the collapse of Nazi Germany became final. Berlin was occupied by the Soviet army. The Germans controlled only a few separate parts of Germany and the occupied territories. Sections of the German army had already surrendered. The Allies demanded the unconditional surrender of the German army, and the German command had not choice but to agree.

On 7 May 1945, German General Alfred Jodl signed the surrender in the French town of Reims. Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff and a Soviet general signed on behalf of the Allies. The document stated that all German forces would stop fighting on 8 May 1945 at 23:01 hours.

The next day, the Soviet Union indicated that they did not accept surrender. They demanded a separate surrender from Germany to their Red Army. This was signed on 8 May by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in Berlin in the presence of the commander-in-chief of the Soviet army, General Georgi Zhukov. The surrender took effect one day later.

Because of the two different moments of surrender, there are two days on which the German surrender is celebrated. In Western Europe, ‘Victory in Europe Day’ is celebrated on 8 May. Russia celebrates ‘Victory Day’ on 9 May.