Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl (listen ; 10 May 1890 – 16 October 1946) was a German general 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 charges of conspiracy to commit crimes 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 Nuremberg in 1946.
Alfred Jodl was educated at a military Cadet School in Munich, from which he graduated in 1910. Ferdinand Jodl, who would also become an Army General, 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 again won 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 (Reichswehr). Jodl married twice: in 1913, and (after becoming a widower) in 1944.
Second World War
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 Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW). Jodl acted as a Chief of Staff during the swift invasion 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 concussion from the explosion. Jodl spent most of the war at the Wolf's Lair, Hitler's forward command post in East Prussia.
Following Hitler's suicide on 30 April 1945, Jodl was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross by Admiral Karl Dönitz, Hitler's successor, on 6 May. 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 Dönitz. On 10 May 1945 Jodl was extralegally awarded the oak leaves to the Knight's Cross.
Trial and conviction
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.
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 at Nuremberg Prison on 16 October 1946. Jodl's last words were reportedly "Ich grüße Dich, mein ewiges Deutschland"—"I greet you, my eternal Germany."
His remains, like those of the other nine executed men and Hermann Göring (who had committed suicide prior to his scheduled execution), were cremated at Ostfriedhof and the ashes were scattered in the Wentzbach, a small tributary of 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.
- 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.