Alfred Jodl

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-033-01, Alfred Jodl.jpg
General Alfred Jodl
Born (1890-05-10)10 May 1890
Würzburg, Germany
Died 16 October 1946(1946-10-16) (aged 56)
Nuremberg, Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
Service/branch Wehrmacht
Years of service 1910–45
Rank Generaloberst
  • World War I
  • World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Relations Ferdinand Jodl (brother)
Signature Jodl signature.png

Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl (About this sound listen ; 10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946) was a German soldier who was the Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) during World War II. He signed the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich for the then President Karl Dönitz in 1945. He was executed by the Allied Powers for war crimes in 1946.

Early life and career[edit]

Alfred Jodl was born out of wedlock as Alfred Josef Ferdinand Baumgärtler in Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany. He was the son of Alfred Jodl and Therese Baumgärtler, assuming the surname Jodl upon his parents' marriage in 1899. He was educated at a military Cadet School in Munich, from which he graduated in 1910. Ferdinand Jodl, who also was to become a General in the Army, was his younger brother. The philosopher and psychologist Friedrich Jodl at the University of Vienna was his uncle.[1] After completing his schooling, Jodl joined the German Imperial Army and received an officer's commission into the artillery.

World War I[edit]

From 1914 to 1916 he served with a Battery unit on the Western Front, being awarded the Iron Cross for gallantry in November 1914, and 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 again awarded the Iron Cross 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 in the guise of the Reichswehr.[2]


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 1944 from pneumonia, contracted after major spinal surgery. In November 1944, Jodl married Luise von Benda, a family friend.[3]

World War II[edit]

Alfred Jodl (between Major Wilhelm Oxenius to the left and Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg to the right) signing the German Instrument of Surrender at Reims, France 7 May 1945

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 Republic put him under command of General Ludwig Beck, who recognised Jodl as "a man with a future".[citation needed] In September 1939 Jodl first met Adolf Hitler. 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. Jodl was chosen by Hitler to be Chef des Wehrmachtsführungsstabes (Chief of Operation Staff of the newly formed OKW). Jodl acted as a Chief of Staff during the swift occupation of Denmark and Norway. During the campaign, Hitler interfered only when the German destroyer flotilla was demolished outside Narvik and wanted the German forces there to retreat into Sweden. 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.

During the Battle of Britain Jodl was optimistic of Germany's success over Britain, on 30 June 1940 writing "The final German victory over England is now only a question of time."[4]

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).

He was injured during the 20 July plot of 1944 against Hitler. Because of this, Jodl was awarded the special wound badge alongside several other leading Nazi figures. He was also rather vocal about his suspicions that others had not endured wounds as severe as his own, often downplaying the effects of the plot on others.

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

Trial and execution[edit]

Colonel General Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender in Reims on 7 May 1945
The body of Alfred Jodl after being hanged, 16 October 1946
Cenotaph in the family grave in the Fraueninsel Cemetery, in Chiemsee

Jodl was arrested and transferred to Flensburg POW camp and later put before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials. 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 classes of prisoners of war were to be summarily executed upon capture. When confronted with mass shootings of Soviet POWs in 1941, Jodl claimed the only prisoners shot were "... not those that could not, but those that did not want to walk."[5]

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 concentration camps. Although he denied his role in this activity of the Third Reich's rule, the (disunited) court sustained his complicity based on the evidence it had examined, the French judge, Henri Donnedieu de Vabres dissenting.

His wife Luise attached herself to her husband's defence team.[6] 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.[7]

Jodl pleaded not guilty "before God, before history and my people". Found guilty on all four charges, he was hanged (with Keitel, on 16 October 1946)[8] although he had asked the court, according to military traditions, to be executed by firing squad.

Jodl's last words were reportedly "Ich grüße Dich, mein ewiges Deutschland"—"I greet you, my eternal Germany." He was declared dead 18 minutes later.

Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., a professor of law at the University of Georgia Law School, noted that many of the executed Nazis fell from the gallows with insufficient force to snap their necks, resulting in a death by strangulation, that in some cases lasted several minutes.[9]

His remains were cremated at Munich, and his ashes scattered into the Isar River (effectively an attempt to prevent the establishment of a permanent burial site to those nationalist groups who might seek to congregate there—an example of this being Benito Mussolini's grave in Predappio, Italy). A cenotaph in the family plot in the Fraueninsel Cemetery, in Chiemsee, Germany is dedicated to him.

Attempted post-mortem rehabilitation in Germany[edit]

On 28 February 1953, a West German denazification court declared Jodl not guilty of breaking international law.[10] This "not guilty" declaration was revoked on 3 September 1953 by the Minister of Political Liberation for Bavaria.[11] These contradictory decisions had no impact on Jodl's legal guilt as determined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.[citation needed]


Portrayal in the media[edit]

Alfred Jodl has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions.[16]



  1. ^ The award was unlawfully presented on 10 May 1945. The sequential number "865" was assigned by the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR).[15]


  1. ^ Jodl, Alfred (1946) A Short Historical Consideration of German War Guilt, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume VIII. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 663
  2. ^ Görlitz (1989) p. 155
  3. ^ Görlitz (1989) p. 161
  4. ^ Shirer 1990, p. 758.
  5. ^ Crowe 2013, p. 87.
  6. ^ Jodl case for the defence
  7. ^ Sereny 1995, p. 578.
  8. ^
  9. ^ The Nuremberg Hangings — Not So Smooth Either, 16 January 2007
  10. ^ Davidson 1997, p. 363.
  11. ^ Scheurig 1997, p. 428.
  12. ^ a b c d Thomas 1997, p. 328.
  13. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 201.
  14. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 85.
  15. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 146.
  16. ^ "Alfred Jodl (Character)". Retrieved 8 May 2008. 
  17. ^ "Letzte Akt, Der (1955)". Retrieved 8 May 2008. 


  • Crowe, David M. (2013). Crimes of State Past and Present: Government-Sponsored Atrocities and International Legal Responses. Routledge. ISBN 1317986822.
  • Davidson, Eugene (1997). The Trial of the Germans. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 0-8262-1139-9. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Görlitz, Walter (1989). "Keitel, Jodl and Warlimont", in Hitler's Generals, ed. Correlli Barnett. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  • Heiber, Helmut, and David M. Glantz (eds.) (2004). Hitler and his generals. Military Conferences 1942–1945. New York: Enigma Books. ISBN 1-929631-28-6.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2004). Eichenlaubträger 1940–1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe II Ihlefeld – Primozic (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-21-1.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Scheurig, Bodo (1997). Alfred Jodl. Propyläen. ISBN 3-549-07228-7. 
  • Sereny, Gitta (1995). Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-394-52915-4.
  • Shirer, William (1990). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. ISBN 0-671-72868-7.
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 

External links[edit]