Reims: France has marked the anniversary of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, which took place in the early hours of the morning 60 years ago in a school used as the supreme allied headquarters.The surrender document was signed by US Lieutenant-General Walter Bedell Smith on behalf of the supreme allied commander, General Dwight Eisenhower; Colonel General Alfred Jodl on behalf of the German high command and Major General Ivan Susloparov of Russia. It was witnessed by French Major General Francois Sevez.
"The Germans were not very happy," Hibbvert said. "Eisenhower didn't take part in the signing. He was watching from somewhere else, waiting."
The Soviets said Susloparov had not been authorized to sign the document. A second act of surrender, significantly the same as the first, was signed the following day by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, General Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, and Colonel General Hans Juergen Stumpff, representing the German army, navy and and air force; and Soviet Marshal Georgi Zhukov for the high command of the Red Army.
British Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder signed on behalf of Eisenhower and the second document was also witnessed by US Air Force General Carl Spaatz and French General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.
In the absence of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who underwent a gall bladder operation in a Paris hospital yesterday, the ceremony was headed by Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.
In a speech read on his behalf, Raffarin emphasised the European dimension of the surrender ceremony.
"From the cataclysm emerged democracy and peace in Europe," he said, recalling that on July 8, 1962, General Charles de Gaulle of France and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of Germany attended mass in Reims cathedral, opening the way to the Franco-German treaty of reconciliation of January 30, 1963.
In what was seen as an appeal to the French to vote in favour of the European constitution in a referendum on May 29, Raffarin said the values and principles of the wartime victors were rooted in the European Union, and it was for new generations "to be worthy today and tomorrow of their heritage".