By Erin Blakemore Published May 6, 2020
Why Germany surrendered twice in World War II
Haunted by the ghosts of WWI and an uncertain Communist future, Allied forces decided to cover all their bases.
On May 7, 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allies in Reims, France, ending World War II and the Third Reich.
Or did it happen on May 9 in Berlin instead?
Both are true. Due to warring ideologies, tussles between the Soviet Union and its allies, and the legacy of the First World War, Germany actually surrendered twice.
As an Allied victory looked more and more certain in 1944 and 1945, the United States, U.S.S.R., France, and the United Kingdom bounced around ideas on the terms of a German surrender. But it was still unclear how the military or political surrender signing would be orchestrated by the time Adolf Hitler died by suicide in a Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945, and his dictatorship reached a bloody end.
Hitler had designated Karl Dönitz, a naval admiral and ardent Nazi, as his successor in the event of his death. Dönitz was doomed not to rule a new Germany, but rather to orchestrate its dissolution. He quickly deputized Alfred Jodl, chief of the operations staff of the Armed Forces High Command, to negotiate the surrender of all German forces with General Dwight D. Eisenhower.