8 May 1945
On the 8 May 1945 the German Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally (German: Bedingungslose Kapitulation der Wehrmacht, which lead to end of World War Two in Europe and the complete termination of National Socialist Germany. The bombed-out country of Germany as a state never surrendered.
On the night of 8 May 1945 representatives of the three armed services of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and the Allied Expeditionary Force came together with the Supreme High Command of the Soviet Red Army in Karlshorst, Berlin, with further French and US representatives signing as witnesses. The physical signing was delayed until nearly 1.00 a.m. on 9 May 1945, Central European Time; and then back-dated to 8 May 1945 to be consistent with the Reims agreement and the public announcements of the surrender already made by Western leaders
Several former Soviet bloc countries including Russia and Belarus, as well as some former Yugoslav countries like Serbia, consider 9 May 1945 as the correct date. The end of all combat actions was specified at 23:01 Central European Time, which was already 9 May 1945 in eastern Europe.
The last Reichspräsident, Großadmiral Karl Dönitz (Sonderbereich Mürwik / Flensburg), was arrested along with his staff on 23 May 1945 contrary to international law.
ACT OF MILITARY SURRENDER
- We the undersigned, acting by authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Supreme High Command of the Red Army all forces on land, at sea, and in the air who are at this date under German control.
- The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 23.01 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945, to remain in all positions occupied at that time and to disarm completely, handing over their weapons and equipment to the local allied commanders or officers designated by Representatives of the Allied Supreme Commands. No ship, vessel, or aircraft is to be scuttled, or any damage done to their hull, machinery or equipment, and also to machines of all kinds, armament, apparatus, and all the technical means of prosecution of war in general.
- The German High Command will at once issue to the appropriate commanders, and ensure the carrying out of any further orders issued by the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and by the Supreme Command of the Red Army.
- This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to GERMANY and the German armed forces as a whole.
- In the event of the German High Command or any of the forces under their control failing to act in accordance with this Act of Surrender, the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and the Supreme High Command of the Red Army will take such punitive or other action as they deem appropriate.
- This Act is drawn up in the English, Russian and German languages. The English and Russian are the only authentic texts.
- Soviet Union: Marshal Georgy Zhukov: on behalf of the Supreme High Command of the Red Army
- United Kingdom: Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur William Tedder, as Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force
- United States: General Carl Spaatz, Commanding United States Strategic Air Forces, as witness
- France: General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Commanding First French Army, as witness
- Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel as the Chief of the General Staff of the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht Heer) and as representative of the German Army
- General-Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg as Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy
- Colonel-General Hans-Jürgen Stumpff as the representative of the German Air Force