A signed copy of the Nazi surrender document which ended the Second World War in Europe has gone on sale for $3.25 million (£2.69million).
The agreement, signed on May 7, 1945, in Reims, France was one of five copies of the historical document which brought an end to six years of fighting in Europe.
It was originally owned by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Eisenhower gifted 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 is signed by German General Alfred Jodl, Lt. General Walter Bedell Smith on behalf of the British and Americans, Gen. Ivan Susloparov on behalf of the Soviet Union and Maj.General Francois Sevez for the French
The signing of total surrender by the Germans at Allied Supreme Headquarters, Rheims. General Gustaf Jodl, Nazi Chief of Staff, signs the document in May 1945
Last night rare manuscript dealer Gary Zimet told the MoS: ‘This is one of the most important documents in 20th century history.
‘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 demonstrates that good triumphed over evil in a war which cost 60 million people their lives.’
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 Allied Commander. He would become US President in 1953.
Under the heading ‘Act of Military Surrender’, the two-page typed document begins: ‘We the undersigned, acting by authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command all forces on land, sea, and in the air who are at this date under German control.’
It was signed by German General Alfred Jodl, one of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s top military advisors at 2.41am on May 7th, 1945. Peace in Europe was officially declared the following day, May 8th.
Hitler had committed suicide in a Berlin bunker on April 30th, 1945.
Eisenhower refused to meet with the Nazi delegation until the document was signed.
He then walked into the room and said: ‘You understand the terms of this surrender?’
Eisenhower refused to speak to the German delegation until the surrender document had been signed. It was signed in Reims, in France, in May 1945
President Eisenhower, who commanded the American forces in Europe during WWII, gave the document to a loyal aide, Joseph A. Lamb
Eisenhower (centre) pictured with the British royal family, including Prince Philip (left) and Queen Elizabeth II (right). King Charles is picture with the Princess Royal as children
When General Jodl replied: ‘Yes we do,’ Eisenhower turned and left.
The document was co-signed by Lt. General Walter Bedell Smith on behalf of the British and Americans, Gen. Ivan Susloparov on behalf of the Soviet Union and Maj. General Francois Sevez for the French.
British observers who witnessed the signing included Admiral Sir Harold Burrough, Lt. Gen. Sir Fred Morgan and Air Marshal James M. Robb.
Five copies of the document were signed – with four going to the official archives of Britain, the US, Russia and France.
The fifth copy, a draft, was given to Eisenhower who later gifted it to his ‘right hand man’ and trusted aide Joseph A. Lamb.
In turn, Lamb left it in his Will to a friend, Rolland McNeely, who sold the document in 1986 to a private collector in America for an undisclosed sum.
Mr Zimet, who is selling the document via his website momentsintime.com said: ‘This document has been in a private collection for 36 years until the owner passed away last year (2022). It’s an extraordinary document.’