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Alfred Jodl

German general
The basics
About
Occupation Politician Military personnel
Country Germany Bavaria
Date of birth Würzburg, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany
Date of death Oct 16, 1946 Nuremberg, Middle Franconia, Bavaria, Germany
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Political party Nazi Party
Authority IMDB id BIBSYS id Openlibrary id Library of congress id VIAF id ISNI id
The details
Biography

Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl ( listen ; 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.

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. Jodl was married twice, in 1913, and then in 1944, after becoming a widower.

Second World War

Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender in Reims on 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. 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. 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."

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. 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

General Jodl after his arrest under guard by British troops outside Flensburg 23 May 1945

Jodl was arrested by British troops on 23 May 1945 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."

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.

The body of Jodl after death, 16 October 1946

His wife Luise attached herself to her husband's defence 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 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.

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

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 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. This not guilty declaration was revoked on 3 September 1953, under pressure from the United States, by the Minister of Political Liberation for Bavaria.

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

Decorations

  • Iron Cross (1914) 2nd Class (20 November 1914) & 1st Class (3 May 1918)
  • Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939) 2nd Class (30 September 1939) & 1st Class (23 December 1939)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
    • Knight's Cross on 6 May 1945 as Generaloberst and Chef des Wehrmachtfuhrungsstabes im OKW
    • Oak Leaves on 10 May 1945. The award was unlawfully presented on 10 May 1945.
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