Friday, 8 May 2015

Military History Photo Friday: The Last Nazi Government Surrenders

Happy VE Day! On this day in 1945, the last organized Nazi forces surrendered to the Allies.

The process actually began on May 4, when the Flensburg government, the successor government appointed by Hitler in his last will and testament shortly before shooting himself on April 30, surrendered to the British. They had controlled Denmark, Netherlands, and northwestern Germany.

This photo shows British officers leading away three of its leaders. President Karl Dönitz (center, in long, dark coat) is followed by Albert Speer (bareheaded) and Alfred Jodl. They prolonged surrender negotiations as long as they could to help surviving German forces flee west so they could surrender to the Allies instead of the Soviets. After what the Nazis had done to Russia in the past few years, they didn't want to end up at the mercy of the Russians.

Soon the Allies told them to stop stalling, and in the early hours of May 7, Dönitz made the announcement, "All forces under German control to cease active operations at 23:01 hours Central European Time on 8 May 1945."

Dönitz spent ten years in prison for war crimes and then lived a quiet life in Germany until his death in 1980.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sure the Russians snagged quite a few though.

D.G. Hudson said...

A powerful moment in history captured by photography! So many changes followed that benign looking photograph. So little time that man spent in jail though, when one considers the crimes committed. War is always more expensive than the cost extracted once it's over.

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