Alfred Jodl

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Alfred Jodl
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-033-01, Alfred Jodl.jpg
Born (1890-05-10)10 May 1890
Würzburg, German Empire
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Nuremberg, Allied-occupied Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Wehrmacht
Years of service 1910–45
Rank Generaloberst
Battles/wars World War I

World War II:

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Relations Ferdinand Jodl (brother)
Signature Jodl signature.png

Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl (<phonos file="De-Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl.oga">listen</phonos>; 10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946) was a German general and war criminal during World War II, who served as the Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht).

After the war, Jodl was indicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit crime against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity at the Allied-organised Nuremberg Trials. The principal charges against him related to his signature of the criminal Commando and Commissar Orders. Found guilty on all charges, he was sentenced to death and executed in 1946.

First World War

Alfred Jodl was educated at a military Cadet School in Munich, from which he graduated in 1910. Ferdinand Jodl, who also was to become a General in the Army, was his younger brother. The philosopher and psychologist Friedrich Jodl at the University of Vienna was his uncle.[1]

From 1914 to 1916 he served with a Battery unit on the Western Front, being awarded the Iron Cross for gallantry in November 1914, and being wounded in action. In 1917 he served briefly on the Eastern Front before returning to the West as a Staff Officer. In 1918 he was again awarded the Iron Cross for gallantry in action. After the defeat of the German Empire in 1918, he continued his career as a professional soldier with the much reduced German Army in the guise of the Reichswehr.[2] Jodl was married twice, in 1913, and then in 1944, after becoming a widower.[3]

Second World War

Jodl, between Major Wilhelm Oxenius (left) and Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg (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.[citation needed] In September 1939 Jodl first met Adolf Hitler. In the build-up to the Second World War, Jodl was nominally assigned as a commander of the 44th Division from October 1938 to August 1939 during the Anschluss. Jodl was chosen by Hitler to be Chief of Operation Staff of the newly formed OKW. Jodl acted as a Chief of Staff during the swift occupation of Denmark and Norway.[citation needed] Following the Fall of France Jodl was optimistic of Germany's success over Britain, on 30 June 1940 writing "The final German victory over England is now only a question of time."[4]

Jodl signed the Commissar Order of 6 June 1941 (in which Soviet political commissars were to be shot) and the Commando Order of 28 October 1942 (in which Allied commandos, including properly uniformed soldiers as well as combatants wearing civilian clothes, such as Maquis and partisans, were to be executed immediately without trial if captured behind German lines).

Jodl was among those slightly injured during the 20 July plot of 1944 against Hitler where he suffered a head concussion by the explosion planned by Claus von Stauffenberg. 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 conviction

Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender in Reims on 7 May 1945

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 classes of prisoners of war were to be summarily executed upon capture. When confronted with mass shootings of Soviet POWs in 1941, Jodl claimed the only prisoners shot were "not those that could not, but those that did not want to walk."[5]

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, to concentration camps. Although he denied his role in this activity of the Third Reich's rule, the court sustained his complicity based on the evidence it had examined with the French judge, Henri Donnedieu de Vabres, dissenting.

His wife Luise attached herself to her husband's defence team.[6] 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 defence. 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.[7]

The body of Jodl after death, 16 October 1946

Jodl pleaded not guilty "before God, before history and my people". Found guilty on all four charges, he was hanged on 16 October 1946.[8] Jodl's last words were reportedly "Ich grüße Dich, mein ewiges Deutschland"—"I greet you, my eternal Germany."[9]

His remains, as those of the other nine executed men and the corpse of Hermann Göring, were cremated at Ostfriedhof (Munich) and the ashes were scattered in the River Isar[10][11][12] to prevent the establishment of a permanent burial site which might be enshrined by nationalist groups.

On 28 February 1953, a West German denazification court declared Jodl not guilty of breaking international law.[13] This not guilty declaration was revoked on 3 September 1953, under pressure from the United States, by the Minister of Political Liberation for Bavaria.[14]



Cenotaph in the family grave in the Fraueninsel Cemetery, in Chiemsee


  1. Jodl, Alfred (1946) A Short Historical Consideration of German War Guilt, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume VIII. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 663
  2. Görlitz (1989) p. 155
  3. Görlitz (1989) p. 161
  4. Shirer 1990, p. 758.
  5. Crowe 2013, p. 87.
  6. Jodl case for the defence
  7. Sereny 1995, p. 578.
  9. Maser (2005) pp. 349-350
  10. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  11. Manvell 2011, p. 393.
  12. Overy 2001, p. 205.
  13. Davidson 1997, p. 363.
  14. Scheurig 1997, p. 428.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Thomas 1997, p. 328.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Scherzer 2007, p. 146.


External links

  • Alfred Jodl—United States Holocaust Memorial Museum