Eisenhower’s signed copy of the Nazi surrender document that ended World War II up for sale at US auction for $3.2 million

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A signed copy of the Nazi surrender document that ended World War II in Europe has been put up for sale for $3.25m (£2.69m).

The agreement, signed on May 7, 1945 in Reims, France, was one of five copies of the historic document that ended six years of struggle in Europe.

It was originally owned by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Eisenhower gave it to a trusted member of staff who later sold it to a private collector who owned it for 36 years until his death last year.

The document was signed by German General Alfred Jodl, Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith on behalf of the British and Americans, General Ivan Susloparov on behalf of the Soviet Union and Major General Francois Sevez on behalf of the French.

The signing of the total surrender by the Germans at the Allied Supreme Headquarters, Reims.  General Gustaf Jodl, Nazi Chief of Staff, signs the document in May 1945

The signing of the total surrender by the Germans at the Allied Supreme Headquarters, Reims. General Gustaf Jodl, Nazi Chief of Staff, signs the document in May 1945

Last night Gary Zimet, dealer of rare manuscripts, told the MoS: ‘This is one of the most important documents in the history of the 20th century.

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“There are only four other copies and they are in the national archives of Great Britain, the United States, Russia and France.

“This is a unique piece of history and shows that good has triumphed over evil in a war that has cost the lives of 60 million people.”

The document was signed in a classroom of a small schoolhouse in Reims, 90 miles north of Paris, which served as the headquarters of General Eisenhower, then the Supreme Commander of the Allies. He would become president of the United States in 1953.

Under the heading “Act of Military Surrender,” the two-page typed document begins: “We the undersigned, acting on the authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Commander-in-Chief, the Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command to surrender all troops. land, sea and air which are currently under German control.’

It was signed at 2:41 a.m. on May 7, 1945, by German General Alfred Jodl, one of the top military advisers to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. The following day, May 8, peace was officially declared in Europe.

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Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945 in a Berlin bunker.

Eisenhower refused to meet the Nazi delegation until the document was signed.

He then walked into the room and said, “Do you understand the terms of this surrender?”

Eisenhower refused to talk to the German delegation until the surrender document was signed.  It was signed in Reims, in France, in May 1945

Eisenhower refused to talk to the German delegation until the surrender document was signed. It was signed in Reims, in France, in May 1945

President Eisenhower, who commanded American forces in Europe during World War II, gave the document to a loyal aide, Joseph A. Lamb

President Eisenhower, who commanded American forces in Europe during World War II, gave the document to a loyal aide, Joseph A. Lamb

Eisenhower (center) pictured with the British royal family, including Prince Philip (left) and Queen Elizabeth II (right).  King Charles is pictured as a child with the Princess Royal

Eisenhower (center) pictured with the British royal family, including Prince Philip (left) and Queen Elizabeth II (right). King Charles is pictured as a child with the Princess Royal

When General Jodl replied, “Yes, we do,” Eisenhower turned and left.

The document was co-signed by Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith on behalf of the British and Americans, General Ivan Susloparov on behalf of the Soviet Union, and Major General Francois Sevez on behalf of the French.

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British observers who witnessed the signing included Admiral Sir Harold Burrough, Lieutenant General Sir Fred Morgan and Air Marshal James M. Robb.

Five copies of the document were signed – four of which went to the official archives of Britain, the US, Russia and France.

The fifth copy, a draft, was given to Eisenhower, who later gave it to his “right-hand man” and trusted assistant Joseph A. Lamb.

Lamb, in turn, left it in his will to a friend, Rolland McNeely, who sold the document to a private collector in America for an undisclosed sum in 1986.

Mr Zimet, who sells the document through his website timesintime.com, said: ‘This document has been in a private collection for 36 years until the owner passed away last year (2022). It is an extraordinary document.’