Alfred Jodl

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Alfred Jodl
Jodl in 1940
Chief of the Operations Staff
of the Wehrmacht High Command
In office
1 September 1939 – 13 May 1945
DeputyWalter Warlimont
Chief of the Wehrmacht High Command
In office
13 May 1945 – 23 May 1945
Preceded byWilhelm Keitel
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl

(1890-05-10)10 May 1890
Würzburg, Bavaria, German Empire
Died16 October 1946(1946-10-16) (aged 56)
Nuremberg Prison, Nuremberg, Bavaria, Allied-occupied Germany
Cause of deathExecution by hanging
Irma Gräfin von Bullion[1]
(m. 1913; died 1944)
Luise von Benda[2]
(m. 1945)
RelationsFerdinand Jodl (brother)
Military service
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Branch/service Imperial German Army
 German Army
Years of service1910–1945
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Criminal conviction
Criminal statusExecuted
Conviction(s)Conspiracy to commit crimes against peace
Crimes of aggression
War crimes
Crimes against humanity
TrialNuremberg trials
Criminal penaltyDeath

Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl (German: [ˈjoːdl̩] ; 10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946) was a German Generaloberst who served as the Chief of the Operations Staff of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – the German Armed Forces High Command – throughout World War II.

After the war, Jodl was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity at the Allied-organized Nuremberg trials. The principal charges against him related to his signature of the criminal Commando and Commissar Orders. Found guilty on all charges, he was sentenced to death and executed in Nuremberg in 1946.

Early life and career[edit]

Jodl (second from right) as a captain of the Reichswehr, 1926

Alfred Jodl was educated at a military cadet school in Munich, from which he graduated in 1910. Ferdinand Jodl, who would also become an army general, was his younger brother. He was the nephew of philosopher and psychologist Friedrich Jodl at the University of Vienna.[3] Jodl was raised Roman Catholic but rejected the faith later in life.[4]

From 1914 to 1916, he served with a battery unit[further explanation needed] on the Western Front, being awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class for gallantry in November 1914, and for being wounded in action. In 1917, he served briefly on the Eastern Front before returning to the West as a staff officer. In 1918, he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class for gallantry in action. After the defeat of the German Empire in 1918, he continued his career as a professional soldier with the much-reduced German Army (Reichswehr).[5] Jodl married twice: in 1913 and (after becoming a widower) in 1944.[6]

World War II[edit]

(front row, from l. to r.) Reichspressechef Otto Dietrich, Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler, Jodl, and Martin Bormann, at the Führer Headquarters of Felsennest, June 1940

Jodl's appointment as a major in the operations branch of the Truppenamt ('Troop Office') in the Army High Command in the last years of the Weimar Republic put him under the command of General Ludwig Beck.[citation needed] In September 1939, Jodl first met Adolf Hitler. During the build-up to the Second World War, Jodl was nominally assigned as commander of the 44th Division from October 1938 to August 1939 after the Anschluss.

He was chosen by Hitler to be Chief of the Operations Staff of the newly formed Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) on 23 August 1939, just prior to the German invasion of Poland.[7] Jodl acted as chief of staff during the invasion of Denmark and Norway. Following the Fall of France, Jodl was optimistic of Germany's success over Britain, writing on 30 June 1940 that "The final German victory over England is now only a question of time."[8]

Jodl signed the Commissar Order of 6 June 1941 (in which Soviet political commissars were to be shot) and the Commando Order of 28 October 1942 (in which Allied commandos, including properly uniformed soldiers as well as combatants wearing civilian clothes, such as Maquis and partisans, were to be executed immediately without trial if captured behind German lines).

Jodl, seated between Wilhelm Oxenius and Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, signing the German Instrument of Surrender in Reims, 7 May 1945

Jodl spent most of the war at the Wolf's Lair, Hitler's forward command post in East Prussia. On 1 February 1944, he was promoted to the rank of Generaloberst (Colonel general). He was among those slightly injured during the 20 July plot of 1944 against Hitler, during which he suffered a concussion.[9][better source needed]

On 6 May 1945, Jodl was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross by Grand admiral Karl Dönitz, who had succeeded Hitler on 30 April 1945 as head of Germany and its armed forces.[10]

Following regional surrenders of German forces in Europe, Jodl was sent by Dönitz to respond to the demand for "immediate, simultaneous and unconditional surrender on all fronts."[11] Jodl signed the German Instrument of Surrender on 7 May 1945 in Reims on behalf of the OKW.[12] The surrender to all the Allies was concluded on 8 May in Berlin. On 13 May, on the arrest of Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, Jodl succeeded him as Chief of OKW.[13]

Trial and conviction[edit]

Jodl being arrested by British troops on 23 May 1945, near Flensburg

Jodl was arrested, along with the rest of the Flensburg Government of Dönitz, by British troops on 23 May 1945 and transferred to Camp Ashcan and later put before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg trials. He 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 classes of prisoners of war were to be summarily executed upon capture. When confronted with the 1941 mass shootings of Soviet POWs, Jodl claimed the only prisoners shot were "not those that could not, but those that did not want to walk".[14]

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, to Nazi concentration camps. Although he denied his role in this activity of the regime, the court sustained his complicity based on the evidence it had examined, with the French judge, Henri Donnedieu de Vabres, dissenting.

Jodl's body after his execution, 16 October 1946

His wife Luise attached herself to her husband's defence team.[15][better source needed] 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 defence. 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.[16]

Jodl pleaded not guilty "before God, before history and my people". Found guilty on all four charges, he was hanged at Nuremberg Prison on 16 October 1946.[17][better source needed] Jodl's last words were reportedly "I salute you, my eternal Germany" ("Ich grüße Dich, mein ewiges Deutschland").[18]

His remains, like those of the other nine executed men and Hermann Göring (who had killed himself prior to his scheduled execution), were cremated at Ostfriedhof and the ashes were scattered in the Wenzbach, a small tributary of the River Isar[19][20][21] to prevent the establishment of a permanent burial site which might be enshrined by Neo-Nazis. A cross commemorating him was later added to the family grave on the Frauenchiemsee in Bavaria. In 2018, the local council ordered the cross to be removed;[22] however, in March 2019, a Munich Court upheld Jodl's relatives' right to maintain the family grave, while noting the family's willingness to remove his name.[23][24]

Posthumous legal action[edit]

On 28 February 1953, after his widow Luise sued to reclaim her pension and his estate, a West German denazification court posthumously declared Jodl not guilty of breaking international law, based on Henri Donnedieu de Vabres's 1949 disapproval of Jodl's conviction.[25][26] This not guilty declaration was revoked by the Minister of Political Liberation for Bavaria on 3 September 1953, following objections from the United States; the consequences of the acquittal on Jodl's estate were, however, maintained.[27]



  1. ^ Tofahrn 2008, pp. 129–130.
  2. ^ O'Keeffe 2013, p. 172.
  3. ^ Jodl 1946, p. 663.
  4. ^ Railton, Nicholas M. "Henry Gerecke and the Saints of Nuremberg." Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte, vol. 13, no. 1, 2000, pp. 112–137. JSTOR 43750887. Accessed 8 Feb. 2021.
  5. ^ Görlitz 1989, p. 155.
  6. ^ Görlitz 1989, p. 161.
  7. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica.
  8. ^ Shirer 1990, p. 758.
  9. ^ Spartacus Educational.
  10. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 146.
  11. ^ Kershaw, Ian (2012). The End; Germany 1944–45. Penguin. p. 370
  12. ^ Shepherd 2016, p. 519.
  13. ^ "After the Battle: The Flensburg Government" (PDF). Battle of Britain International Ltd. 2005. p. 11. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  14. ^ Crowe 2013, p. 87.
  15. ^ 2011.
  16. ^ Sereny 1995, p. 578.
  17. ^ UMKC.
  18. ^ Maser 2005, pp. 349–350.
  19. ^ Darnstädt 2005, p. 128.
  20. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 2011, p. 393.
  21. ^ Overy 2001, p. 205.
  22. ^ Passauer Neue Pressee 2018.
  23. ^ Der Spiegel 2019.
  24. ^ Bayerische Staatkanzlei 2019, § 40.
  25. ^ Buchheim & Futselaar 2014, p. 53.
  26. ^ Davidson 1997, p. 363.
  27. ^ Scheurig 1997, p. 428.
  28. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 328.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Chief of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
13 May 1945 – 23 May 1945
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Chief of the OKH General Staff
13 May 1945 – 23 May 1945