Alfred Jodl

Alfred Jodl : Nazi Germany

Alfred Jodl was born in Wuerzburg, Germany, on 10th May, 1890. He attended cadet school and 1910 joined a field military regiment in the German Army.

Soon after the outbreak of the First World War Jodl suffered a severe thigh wound. He recovered and saw further action on the Western Front and the Eastern Front. Disillusioned by Germany's defeat he considered leaving the army and becoming a doctor.

In 1935 Jodl was promoted to the rank of general major. After the Anschluss he was sent to Vienna as head of the 44th Artillery Command. He returned to Germany and in September he took part in the invasion of Poland.

A strong supporter of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), Jodl worked closely with Adolf Hitler and in October, 1939, was appointed chief of operations. In January, 1944, Jodl was promoted to the rank of Generaloberst.

Jodl came close to be killed when the bomb exploded in the July Plot. He recovered and in May, 1945, signed the unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies. Soon afterwards he was arrested and charged with war crimes.

At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Jodl was charged of approving orders that violated the rules of war. Alfred Jodl was found guilty and hanged on 16th October, 1946.

Primary Sources

(1) Alfred Jodl, diary entry (10th August, 1938)

It is tragic that the Fuehrer should have the whole nation behind him with the single exception of the Army generals. In my opinion it is only by action that they can now atone for their faults of lack of character and discipline. It is the same problem as in 1914. There is only one undisciplined element in the Army - the generals, and in the last analysis this comes from the fact that they are arragant. They have neither confidence not discipline because they cannot recognize the Fuehrer's genius.

(2) Alfred Jodl was present during the Munich Conference (29th September, 1938)

The Pact of Munich is signed. Czechoslovakia as a power is out. The genius of the Führer and his determination not to shun even a world war have again won victory without the use of force. The hope remains that the incredulous, the weak and the doubters have been converted and will remain that way.

(3) Alfred Jodl, order issued to the German Army (23rd July, 1941)

In view of the vast size of the occupied areas in the East the forces available for establishing security in these areas will be sufficient only if al resistance is punished not by legal prosecution of the guilty but by the spreading of such terror by the occupying power as is appropriate to eradicate every inclination to resist among the population. The competent commanders must find the means of keeping order not by demanding more security forces but by applying suitable Draconian methods.

(4) Alfred Jodl, speech to Gauleiters in Munich (7th November, 1943)

My most profound confidence is however based upon the fact that at the head of Germany there stands a man by his entire development, his desires, and striving can only have been destined by fate to lead our people into a brighter future. In defiance of all views to the contrary I must here testify that he is the soul not only of the political but also of the military conduct of the war and that the force of his willpower and the creative riches of his thought animate and hold together the whole of the German Armed Forces, with respect to strategy, organization and munitions of war.

(5) Guenther Blumentritt was interviewed by Basil Liddell Hart about Operation Barbarossa in his book The Other Side of the Hill (1948)

The failure of Field-Marshal List in the Low Caucasus not only led to his dismissal, but to a serious personal crisis in Hitler's headquarters late in September, 1942. Sometime earlier List had received the order to push on over the Low Caucasus towards the Black Sea, using all suitable routes. When he did not succeed in reaching his goal. Hitler once more became utterly impatient and sent Jodi to List's headquarters. On his return Jodi reported to Hitler that List had acted exactly in conformity to Hitler's orders, but that the Russian resistance was equally strong everywhere, supported by a most difficult terrain. Hitler, however, kept on reproaching List with having split up his forces instead of breaking through with concentrated power, while Jodi pointed to the fact that Hitler by his own orders had induced List to advance on a widely stretched front.

This argument of Jodl's was followed by an unusual outburst of Hitler's. He was so taken aback by the recital of his own previous orders - which he now denied - that Jodi, and Keitel with him, fell in disgrace for a long time to come. Further consequences were that Hitler completely changed his daily customs. From that time on he stayed away from the common meals which he had taken twice a day with his entourage. Henceforth he hardly left his hut in daytime, not even for the daily reports on the military situation, which from now on had to be delivered to him in his own hut in the presence of a narrowly restricted circle. He refused ostentatiously to shake hands with any general of the O.K.W., and gave orders that Jodi was to be replaced by another officer.