Alfred Jodl, the man who signed the unconditional surrender of Germany in the Second World War, was born in Würzburg, Germany, on 10th May, 1890. In 1910 Jodl joined the German Army. In the early days of the First World War Jodl was badly wounded. He recovered and went back to the front (fronts, actually, since Jodl took part in both Eastern and Western frontlines).
When World War I was over, Jodl considered leaving the army, certainly disappointed with the german defeat. Jodl changed his mind about becoming a doctor and stayed in the military life. Alfred Jodl was promoted to the rank of Oberst and later on he was appointed Artillery Commander ("Artillerie Kommandeur") of the 44th Division in Vienna, just after the Anschluss (the union between Germany and Austria).
Jodl was a very supportive and well-related member of the National Socialist German Workers Party
(a.k.a. German Nazi Party
) and worked closely with Adolf Hitler
himself. In 1939 Jodl was appointed Chief of Operation Staff of the High Command of the Armed Forces ("Chef des Wehrmachtsfuhrungstabes in Oberkommndo der Wehrmacht
") in which he was subordinated to the Chief of the OKW Wilhelm Keitel
, and then, in 1940, he was promoted again, now to the rank
of General der Artillerie.
In 1944 Jodl was once again promoted to Generaloberst and was almost killed at the July Plot
(the attempt to kill Adolf Hitler). After recovering and after Hitler's suicide
, Jodl signed the surrender to the Allied Forces
. Afterwards Jodl was arrest
ed and charged of war crimes
and crimes against humanity
. The London Charter
(the document made by the Allies to define such crimes) defined those crimes as "murder
, ill treatment or deportation to slave labor
or for any other purpose of civilian population or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners-of-war
or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages or devastation not justified by military necessity" and "murder, extermination
, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Military Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated" respectively. This is most likely regarding the orders approved by Jodl to evacuate the people of a district in Norway
and burn their houses, to kill enemy civilians guilty of offenses against German troops
and to kill enemy troops even if they were wounded or attempting to surrender, among others.
Jodl was found guilty by the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and hanged on 16th October, 1946.
The Jewish Virtual Library - http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Holocaust/Jodl.html
CourtTV.com Casefiles - http://www.courttv.com/casefiles/nuremberg/
Derechos.org (London Charter transcript) - http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/nuremberg/judgment/ncharter.html