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Alfred Jodl
10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946 (aged 56)
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-033-01, Alfred Jodl.jpg
Alfred Jodl
Place of birth Würzburg, Germany
Place of death Nuremberg, Germany
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Wehrmacht
Years of service 1910–1945
Rank Generaloberst
Battles/wars World War I
World War II

Alfred Jodl (10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946) was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel. At Nuremberg he was tried, sentenced to death and hanged as a war criminal.

Contents

Early life

Jodl was born Alfred Josef Ferdinand Baumgärtler in Würzburg, Germany, the son of Officer Alfred Jodl and Therese Baumgärtler, becoming "Alfred Jodl" upon his parents' marriage in 1899. He was educated at Cadet School in Munich, from which he graduated in 1910.

After schooling, Jodl joined the army as an artillery officer. During World War I he served as a battery officer on the Western Front from 1914–1916, twice being wounded. In 1917 Jodl served briefly on the Eastern Front before returning to the west as a staff officer. After the war Jodl remained in the armed forces and joined the Versailles-limited Reichswehr.

Jodl had married Irma Gräfin von Bullion, a woman five years his senior from an aristocratic Swabian family, in September 1913. She died in Königsberg in the spring of 1943 of pneumonia contracted after major spinal surgery. The following November, Jodl married Luise von Benda, a close family friend.

World War II

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", although it was only on September 1939 that Jodl met with Adolf Hitler for the first time. In the build-up to World War II, Jodl was nominally assigned as a Artilleriekommandeur of the 44th Division from October 1938 to August 1939 during the Anschluss, but from then until the end of the war in May 1945 he was Chef des Wehrmachtsführungsstabes (Chief of Operation Staff 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.

During the Battle of Britain Jodl was optimistic of Britain's demise and on June 30, 1940 wrote "The final German victory over England is now only a question of time."[1]


He was injured during the July 20 plot. Due to this, Jodl was awarded the special wounded badge alongside several other leading Nazi figures. He was also rather vocal about his suspicions that others had not endured wounds as strong as his own, often downplaying the effects of the plot on others.

Jodl signed the Commando Order of October 28, 1942 (in which Allied Commandos were not to be treated as POWs) and the Commissar Order of June 6, 1941 (in which Soviet Political Commissioners were to be shot).

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 execution

Colonel General Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender in Reims on 7 May 1945
The body of Alfred Jodl after being hanged, October 16, 1946

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 prisoners were to be summarily executed. 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 and other civilians, to concentration camps. Although he denied his role in the crime, the court sustained his complicity based on the given evidence.

His wife Luise attached herself to her husband's defense team. 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 defense. 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. He was in one instance aided by a GI clerk who chose to give Luise a document showing that the execution of a group of British commandos in Norway had been legitimate. The GI warned Luise that if she didn’t copy it immediately she would never see it again; "... it was being 'filed'."[2] Jodl pleaded not guilty "before God, before history and my people". Found guilty on all four charges, he was hanged (with Keitel, on October 16, 1946)[3] although he had asked the court to be executed by firing squad.

Jodl's last words were reportedly "My greetings to you, my Germany." He was declared dead 18 minutes later.

His remains were cremated at Munich, and his ashes raked out and scattered into the Isar River (effectively an attempt 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). A cenotaph in the family plot in the Fraueninsel Cemetery, in Chiemsee, Germany is dedicated to him.

External links

Portrayal in the media

Alfred Jodl has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions.[4]

Notes

  1. ^ William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, p.758. ISBN 0671728687
  2. ^ Gitta Sereny, Albert Speer His Battle with Truth, p.578. ISBN 0394529154
  3. ^ umkc.edu
  4. ^ "Alfred Jodl (Character)". IMDb.com. http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0042414/. Retrieved 8 May 2008.  
  5. ^ "Letzte Akt, Der (1955)". IMDb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048295/. Retrieved 8 May 2008.  

References

  • HITLER and HIS GENERALS. Military Conferences 1942-1945, Edited by Helmut Heiber and David M. Glantz. (Enigma Books: New York, 2004. ISBN 1-929631-28-6)
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2004). Eichenlaubträger 1940 - 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe II Ihlefeld - Primozic (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 3-932381-21-1.

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

My greetings to you, my Germany.

Alfred Jodl (May 10, 1890October 16, 1946) was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel. At the Nuremberg trials, he was found guilty on all four charges and was sentenced to death by hanging, although he had asked the court to be executed by firing squad.

Sourced

  • My greetings to you, my Germany.
    • Last words, 10/16/46. Quoted in "The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness World War II" - Page 566 - by Jon E. Lewis - History - 2002
Death - by hanging! - that, at least, I did not deserve. The death part - all right, somebody has to stand for the responsibility. But that - that I did not deserve!
  • Death - by hanging! - that, at least, I did not deserve. The death part - all right, somebody has to stand for the responsibility. But that - that I did not deserve!
    • To Dr. G. M. Gilbert, after receiving the death sentence and getting annoyed more at the method of execution, hanging. Quoted in "Nuremberg Diary" by G. M. Gilbert - History - 1995
  • Ah, you come to see the others but rarely to see me.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 17, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Yes, I'm very normal, everything is okay, I won't become a psychiatric case.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 17, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • In view of the vast size of the occupied areas in the East the forces available for establishing security in these areas will be sufficient only if all resistance is punished not by legal prosecution of the guilty but by the spreading of such terror by the occupying power as is appropriate to eradicate every inclination to resist among the population. The competent commanders must find the means of keeping order not by demanding more security forces but by applying suitable Draconian methods.
    • July 23, 1941 order issued to the German Army. Quoted in "The Nuremberg Trial and International Law" - Page 163 - by George Ginsburgs - Law - 1990
The Pact of Munich is signed. Czechoslovakia as a power is out. The genius of the Führer and his determination not to shun even a world war have again won victory without the use of force.
  • The Pact of Munich is signed. Czechoslovakia as a power is out. The genius of the Führer and his determination not to shun even a world war have again won victory without the use of force. The hope remains that the incredulous, the weak and the doubters have been converted and will remain that way.
    • Munich Conference, September 29, 1938. Quoted in "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany" - Page 422 - by William Lawrence Shirer - Germany - 1990
  • My most profound confidence is however based upon the fact that at the head of Germany there stands a man by his entire development, his desires, and striving can only have been destined by fate to lead our people into a brighter future.
    • November 7, 1943 speech to Gauleiters in Munich. Quoted in "The Trial of the Germans" by Eugene Davidson - History - 1997
  • It is tragic that the Fuehrer should have the whole nation behind him with the single exception of the Army generals. In my opinion it is only by action that they can now atone for their faults of lack of character and discipline.
    • August 10, 1938. Quoted in "The Trial of the Germans" - Page 347 - by Eugene Davidson - History - 1997
  • To this very day, I do not know what he (Hitler) thought or knew or really wanted. I only knew my own thoughts and suspicions.
    • 1946. Quoted in "The Journal of Historical Review: IHR" by Institute for Historical Review - History - 1980 - Page 413
  • But then I ask myself, I have never truly known the man whose flank I have lead one difficult and ascetic life for. Perhaps he has played with my idealism, taking advantage for dark scopes that he has held hidden within himself. How can I expect to know a man who has never opened his heart to me? Till now I do not know what he really thought, knew or wanted. I was alone with my thoughts and my suspicions. And now, the veil that covered this statue has fallen to the ground and instead of an art work, a monster has revealed itself. Now we leave to the historians of the future the task of discussing if that statue was therefore a sin from the beginning, or was changed because of the circumstances. I continue to make the same error: I try to think back to his humble origins. But then I remember how many sons of these people have sealed their history with his name.
    • About Hitler, Nuremberg Trial, March 10, 1946. Quoted in "Hitler: The Man and the Military Leader" by Percy Ernst Schramm

About Jodl

  • Jodl was someone who acted against better knowledge and conscience and did what Hitler told him.
  • Jodl, betrayer of the traditions of his profession, led the Wehrmacht in violating its own code of military honor in order to carry out the barbarous aims of Nazi policy.

External links

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