Talk:Unconditional surrender

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Was Iraq a third instance of this doctrine in US history?

Nah, don't think so, really, as the US, probably to allow some face-saving, never required anyone connected with the Saddam government to "officially" declare or sign a surrender. On the other hand, since the government and army were completely smashed, it could be considered to be in that spirit, although not following the doctrine to the letter. Ellsworth 22:34, 11 Sep 2004 (UTC)
See Debellatio --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 21:59, 17 December 2007 (UTC)


This article says that the first instance of the word "unconditional surrender" was during the US Civil War. But on Battle of Saratoga it says that Gates called for unconditional surrender from Burgoyne. Which is correct? →bjornthegreat t|c 16:58, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

Since I have no idea whether the Revolutionary War battle article is correct, I will take the safe course by weaseling this article. One legalistic difference between the battles is that Grant offered unconditional surrender and it was accepted, which was not the case at Saratoga (according to that article). It is also unclear whether the literal phrase "unconditional surrender" was used in the earlier battle or whether its author was merely taking advantage of a modern term.
While I am at it, I have taken the liberty of removing the year-old warning box about merging with another article since no one seems to be interested enough to do it. Hal Jespersen 19:02, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Okay. I've changed it to "most famous use", as that seems a bit more descriptive. →bjornthegreat t|c 23:15, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
"famous" and "notable" without a proper context (e.g., "in the U.S.") are biased. Many people know the formula was used in WWII, yes. But the American Civil War History is not thaugth outside the U.S. and maybe anglophone countries. --euyyn 23:36, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Since the section in question is titled "United States usage" I doubt there can be any confusion. By the way, this is a war that is interesting to a lot of non-English speakers. The article American Civil War is translated into 50 languages on Wikipedia. Hal Jespersen 23:51, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, although it confused me anyways. Being interesting to many non-English speaking people didn't change my point, however. Manga interests many people outside Japan, but that doesn't put manga-related things in the common knowledge. I do know there's a Pokemon called Pikachu which is a yellow electric rat; most people only know there exists something Japanese called Pokemon. If you want to know for sure, travel and ask. --euyyn 12:09, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

It would seem that unconditional surrender would be demanded under three circumstances: (1) that the defeated side (typical rebels) have no legitimacy, (2) that the victors intend to annex the defeated power in whole or in part or establish a puppet state, (3)that the defeated power is so unreliable in meeting treaty obligations that the victor must establish a government of its selection.

The first seems to describe the Confederacy well. Nobody had any cause to believe that a rump Confederate States of America was going to continue after the American Civil War. It also applies to the secession of Biafra from Nigeria; the victors are likely to treat the defeated with considerable leniency on the principle that the voluntary re-assimilation of the rebelling entity is far easier if terms are gentle.

The second better fits the situation in the Republic of Vietnam in the spring of 1975. The objective of the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong was to overthrow the non-communist state and spread the authority of a communist régime throughout Vietnam. As one figure of the surrendering government said, roughly, "We have nothing left to surrender", a fair assessment of the military situation.

The third clearly describes the situation of nazi Germany in its death throes. The nazis had shown themselves unreliable in meeting any obligations by treaty or agreement; they had committed crimes that offended the sensibilities of all of Allied Powers. The nazis could not be trusted even in the most abject forms of vassaldom. But it can be imposed on the principle of annihilation of the defeated cause, as in Cambodia in 1975 after the Khmer Rouge took over.

Leniency is possible in the first and second cases -- but highly unlikely in the third because of the unwillingness to preserve the former political structure and perhaps even culture or economic system of the defeated entity.

--Paul from Michigan 03:39, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Why so much about the states?[edit]

There seems to be a lot of biased info here. It seems to all be centered around the United States? Where there no cases of other countries asking for unconditional surrenders? Also, why does anyone reading this article care about statues? or the history of other Civial War battles? I think some content should be reconsidered for relevance. --DFRussia 06:25, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

The two major uses of the term unconditional surrender were American. Both for the American Civil War and the WWII demand. It is important to distinguish between surrender at discretion which happens all the time, indeed the Japanese WWII habit of fighting on when further resistance will only lead to loss of life is exceptional. However asking a state to surrender unconditionally at the end of a war is unusual (the German state in the end did not surrender only their armies did), and seems to be something that other than with physical debellation is not a common war aim as enemy states usually come to some form of terms as most wars have limited aims. It may have been used by other states but to date no-one had added any to the page. For this reason I am removing the Globalize template. -- PBS (talk) 22:26, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
For the same reasons I am removing the current {{globalize}}. -- PBS (talk) 08:51, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

"Normally a belligerent will only agree to surrender unconditionally if completely incapable of continuing hostilities."[edit]

The above line from the article seems simply false to me. Perhaps a more accurate way of expressing this idea would be to say, "Normally a belligerent will only agree to surrender unconditionally if completely convinced of the impossibility of either victory or improved surrender conditions." Certainly, at the time of Germany's surrender in 1945, it was not only capable of continuing hostilities, but was actively doing so right up until the surrender. The same can be said for Japan (though their surrender was conditional). It was a lack of hope, not a lack of capability, that led to the unconditional surrender. (talk) 14:11, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Whilst this article requires significant improvement, adding original research only adds to the problem. Please provide a source Rotovia (talk) 11:50, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

I wasn't aware that the talk page requires citations. I was just pointing out an (unsourced) factual error in the main article. If someone will fix it (with sources, if you insist, though it seems to me to be a point of logical fact), then the article will have been improved. (talk) 12:00, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Criticism of use in World War II[edit]

I think the the comments on Unconditional Surrender are wrong. Churchill supported it and had discussed it with the British War Cabinet. I have read that the Soviet's supported it as well. See: The Soviets in particular were always worried that the Allies would cut a separate deal with the Germans. This call committed the West to the total defeat of Germany and not separate deals. In addition, by not going for Unconditional Surrender in WWI, the allies had created the conditions for WWII. They did not want to repeat this mistake — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:54, 29 July 2016 (UTC)

This section seems to rather miss the boat by focusing on its application in Europe. The majority of criticism I've ever read of the notion has to do with its effect in the Pacific, where the Japanese were interested in a negotiated settlement from the time of Tojo's fall or so, but balked at unconditional surrender. john k (talk) 01:13, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

American insistence on unconditional surrender lengthened the wars in Europe and the Pacific, and caused millions of deaths. Rather more than the Holocaust, I suspect. So who was the greater war criminal, Roosevelt or Hitler? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:35, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

I would like to know how would have looked such "conditional surrender" of Nazi Germany... Uncondititional surrender maybe prolonged the war, but it was still better than any possible outcome of negotiated peace:
1) Open negotiations with Nazi Germany would have highly probably destroyed coalition of US/UK and Soviet Union - separate peace of western Allies with Germany was real nightmare for soviet leaders in 1942/1943. Such peace would have been favourable to Germany (remember most of Europe was still occupied and only Soviet Union had enough power to annihilate German war-machine). So peace good only for Nazis, not for Allies.
2) Assuming Hitler was overthrown and new regime offers peace - that would have been catastrophe for allied war effort and also for Europe itself. New "Dolchstoßlegende" would have opened patch to another war in the not so distant future.
3) My last point returns to my original question: "I would like to know how would have looked such "conditional surrender" of Nazi Germany." What conditions would have been acceptable by any German government? Sudetes as part of Reich? Or even Bohemia and Moravia? What about Poland?
As you see, unconditional surrender was not that bad idea.--Pavlor (talk) 22:03, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

The Allies tried "conditional" German surrender at the end of the First World War in 1918 (i.e. the armistice). You see where that got them. During the Second World War, there was strong popular sentiment, particularly in the United States, to end it once and for all.John Paul Parks (talk) 20:26, 6 December 2014 (UTC)

In addition to claims that are almost certainly wrong on at least one point regarding the Allied position on unconditional surrender, there are also sentences that contradict each other. The following sentence appears in the second paragraph of the World War II section: "Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin disapproved of the demand for unconditional surrender, as did most senior U.S. officials." No citation is provided to back this statement. I suspect it is because one couldn't be found as the claim being made is likely wrong. The following sentences appear a couple of paragraphs later: "It has also been argued that without the demand for unconditional surrender Central Europe might not have fallen behind the Iron Curtain. 'It was a policy that THE SOVIET UNION ACCEPTED WITH ALACRITY, probably because a completely destroyed Germany would facilitate Russia's postwar expansion program'"(emphasis mine). The contradiction contained within those quotes is clearly obvious. Either the Soviets(represented in the person of Joseph Stalin)accepted the policy with "alacrity", or the Soviets disapproved of it. This quote is also taken from the same section: "One reason for the policy was that the Allies wished to avoid a repetition of the stab-in-the-back myth that arose in Germany after World War I, which attributed Germany's loss to betrayal by Jews, Bolsheviks and Socialists." This sentence seems to stating that the Allies(this would include Stalin and Churchill)supported the policy, if only to avoid what happened at the end of World War I. This very point about World War I was made by an above commenter. I am going to remove the unsourced claim that Stalin and Churchill disapproved of Roosevelt's call for unconditional surrender. (talk) 08:37, 7 November 2016 (UTC)

I would also like to add that claims, put forth by another commenter, strongly implying Roosevelt is the "greater war criminal than Hitler" because he insisted on unconditional surrender are idiotic in the extreme. The Germans(and Japanese) could have, you know, surrendered unconditionally at any time. The notion that Roosevelt somehow forced them to continue fighting a war THAT HITLER STARTED is just plain stupid, to put it mildly. The implication that Roosevelt was the "greater war criminal" because he refused to allow conditions to be set or dictated by those who had started the war in the first place is, again, just plain stupid. I'll also point out that Harry Truman was President of the United States when Germany and Japan finally surrendered. He could have withdrawn Roosevelt's demands for unconditional surrender anytime he wanted. However, this point is rendered irrelevant by the sheer silliness of the question asked by the above commenter. Individuals who wish to defend Adolf Hitler by comparing him favorably to Roosevelt would probably find a more receptive audience over at the Stormfront website. (talk) 09:03, 7 November 2016 (UTC)


I am removing the reference to Roosevelt from the See Also section, it it too specific. Bazuz (talk) 08:49, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

In the section on the Second World War, I have removed the claim that FDR made an error concerning Grant's name. While it is true that Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant, he was known as Ulysses S. Grant from his early days as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy, and it was by that name he was known during the Civil War and as President of the United States.

John Paul Parks (talk) 20:29, 6 December 2014 (UTC)