Alfred Jodl

Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl

General Alfred Jodl
Born (1890-05-10)10 May 1890
Würzburg, Bavaria, German Empire
Died 16 October 1946(1946-10-16) (aged 56)
Nuremberg, Allied-occupied 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)

Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl ( listen ; 10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946) was a German general, who served as the Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), and a war criminal during World War II. He signed the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany for the then President Karl Dönitz in 1945. After the war, Jodl was indicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit crime against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity at the Allied-organised 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 1946.

First World War

Alfred Jodl 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]

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 was married twice, in 1913, and then in 1944, after becoming a widower.[3]

Second World War

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". In September 1939 Jodl first met Adolf Hitler. In the build-up to the Second World War, 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.

Following the Fall of France 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).

Jodl was among those slightly injured during the 20 July plot of 1944 against Hitler. 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 conviction

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 on 16 October 1946.[8] Jodl's last words were reportedly "Ich grüße Dich, mein ewiges Deutschland"—"I greet you, my eternal Germany."[9]

His remains, as those of the other nine executed men and the corpse of Hermann Göring, were cremated at Ostfriedhof (Munich) and the ashes were scattered in the River Isar[10][11][12] 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.

On 28 February 1953, a West German denazification court declared Jodl not guilty of breaking international law.[13] This not guilty declaration was revoked on 3 September 1953, under pressure of the United States of America, by the Minister of Political Liberation for Bavaria.[14]


Portrayal in the media

Alfred Jodl has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions.[17]




    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.
    9. Maser (2005) pp. 349-350
    10. Thomas Darnstädt (2005), "Ein Glücksfall der Geschichte", Der Spiegel, 13 September (14), p. 128
    11. Manvell 2011, p. 393.
    12. Overy 2001, p. 205.
    13. Davidson 1997, p. 363.
    14. Scheurig 1997, p. 428.
    15. 1 2 Thomas 1997, p. 328.
    16. 1 2 Scherzer 2007, p. 146.
    17. "Alfred Jodl (Character)". Retrieved 8 May 2008.
    18. "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. 
    • 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.
    • Maser, Werner. Nürnberg: Tribunal der Sieger [Nuremberg: Trial of Victors]; Albersroda: Edition Antaios; 2005; ISBN 978-3-935063-37-1; (in German)
    • 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. Gehorsam und Verhängnis. Berlin: 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. 

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