Press/Journalists

Media Alert
April 18, 2005

Special Display Of V-E Document And Maps For Press Only

WHAT: The only opportunity for the media to see and photograph an original V-E Day "Instrument of Surrender" document in advance of the 60th anniversary of the military surrender of Germany

Photos and film clips of the V-E Day surrender will be available for the media.

WHERE:    Friday, April 22, 2005 at 10 A.M.
WHEN: National Archives Building "Madison Room," 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Media should use Pennsylvania Avenue entrance between 7th and 9th Streets NW.
WHO: Dr. Tim Nenninger, Branch Chief, National Archives Modern Military Records Branch, will give a brief overview and history of the materials on display.

PLEASE NOTE: NO ARTIFICIAL LIGHT MAY BE USED ON THE DOCUMENTS.

A special showing for the media only:

The German Military Surrender document - Signed at Rheims, France, May 7, 1945

This formal document was a purely military surrender aimed at ending the fighting and halting any further bloodshed. Article 4 provided for a more general political surrender that would come later. This instrument of surrender was signed by Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl, on behalf of the German High command, by Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, representing General Eisenhower, and by Maj. Gen. Ivan Sousloparov of the Soviet Union, who was later notified that he had not been authorized to sign. Maj. Gen. François Sevez of France signed as a witness.

The official German surrender document signed at Rheims is preserved by the National Archives among the Instruments of Surrender and Armistice in the official records of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Background

The greatest invasion force in the history of warfare stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-day, June 6, 1944. With the support of 3 allied airborne divisions, a vast armada of more than 5,000 ships brought some 130,000 men ashore that day under fierce enemy fire; hundreds of thousands more followed in the coming months. They came to destroy one of the most monstrous regimes in human history. Under the command of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, these warriors drove across Europe in a campaign of liberation to eliminate Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe. Eisenhower called it "The Great Crusade," and it ended with the total collapse of the Third Reich in Germany on May 7, 1945.

By the time Adolf Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945, it was clear that Germany had lost the war. On May 5, Hitler's chosen successor, Karl Donitz, sent a representative to negotiate a comprehensive military surrender with the Allied command, which was then headquartered in Rheims, France. While the Germans stalled for time to allow as many soldiers and civilians as possible to move west in order to escape the savagery of the Red Army, Eisenhower's patience ran out. Finally, at 2:41 a.m. on May 7, with no remaining options, Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl, representing the German High Command of the armed forces, signed the formal unconditional surrender of all German forces.

On May 8, a nearly identical surrender document was signed in Berlin at the insistence of the Soviet Union, which had not authorized a representative to sign the surrender agreement concluded at Rheims.

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For press information please contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 501-5526.

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